As many dog parents can attest, messes are a part of life. This is especially true with old age, as our best friends grow up and meet different challenges — like being unable to control when they go to the bathroom. But, like adult diapers for humans, belly bands can come in handy for our furry family members who might need help in that department or those who might be indoors for long periods.
But what exactly are belly bands, and how do you use them to ensure the utmost comfort and cleanliness for our precious pups? We checked in with Dr. Emily Singler, VMD and Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, to find out more.
“Belly bands are bands of fabric that fasten around the abdomen,” Dr. Singler says, noting that it covers male dogs’ genitals, while female bands also have strips that go between their hind legs and back up to the top of the band. “They contain dogs’ urine that aren’t completely potty trained and in dogs that have some urinary incontinence,” she adds, pointing out that they can also sometimes be used for female dogs that are in heat to prevent messes in the house.
Not all belly bands are the same, either. Some bands are elastic — some aren’t — and they come in different sizes. Dr. Singler notes that they can also differ in terms of the fabric they're made of and whether they’re meant to hold a sanitary pad layer against the skin. Choosing a belly band that fits your dog correctly and doesn't put pressure on their stomach or rub or irritate the skin is essential.
Although sensible and handy, belly bands should only be used in certain situations when other options don’t exist. “Belly bands should only be used in situations where a dog can’t control their bladder or for a dog in heat who's actively bleeding,” Dr. Singler says. For some dogs, belly bands can help pets roam freely at home without being confined all the time due to worries about urine soiling the house.
Whenever the occasion calls for it, Dr. Singler says belly bands should only be on your pup for short periods, ideally with a disposable absorbent pad that sits up against the skin and prevents urine or blood from having prolonged skin contact.
It’s also important to change your dog’s belly band every time it gets wet or soiled and removed as soon as it’s not needed — this includes when your pup is outside or when you're home and can monitor them for signs they need to go out. “The belly band should be checked frequently throughout the day, at least every 4 hours when possible,” Dr. Singler explains. “The absorbent pad should be changed frequently, and the whole band should be changed out at least daily and washed.”
Additionally, if your best friend’s skin does get wet or soiled, be sure and clean and dry the area as soon as possible to prevent skin irritation.
Belly bands are primarily a tool to help incontinence and aren’t a viable option for potty training.
“For dogs still potty training, the presence of a belly band may discourage a dog from urinating since dogs don't really like urinating into a belly band,” Dr. Singler shares. “Belly bands shouldn’t be used as an alternative for complete potty training. Once a dog is potty trained, belly bands shouldn't be necessary.”
That’s why belly bands are primarily used for older dogs who tend to develop issues with incontinence. Similarly, for dogs in heat, Dr. Singler adds that you should remove their belly band once any bleeding has stopped.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash