Nighttime Nightmares: When Dog Diapers Don’t Work

Nighttime Nightmares: When Dog Diapers Fail

Nighttime Nightmares: When Dog Diapers FailWhat do you do when dog diapers fail your dog with fecal incontinence?

I recently received a comment from a concerned dog mom who was asking this same question.

Instead of replying to her directly in the comments section, I asked if it was okay to share her situation in a post where other pet parents of incontinent dogs could see it. She graciously agreed.

So, today I want to talk a little bit about what you can do when dog diapers don’t work for your dog.

When Dog Diapers Fail

Dog mom “B” wrote:

My pup is 15 and has dementia and nighttime poop is a nightly occurrence (it’s 3 am after cleaning up a nightmarish scene for the last hour). She is in diapers but they fall off of her because she is so skinny now and poop just falls out of them and she paces back and forth tracking it everywhere- so crating her just increases the chance she steps in it but then having access to a room is also a nightmare to clean. I’m at a loss of what to do with her.

I KNOW that a lot of dog parents out there can empathize, no one likes to clean up accidents, let alone in the middle of the night when you’re tired and facing a poop covered carpet, dog, and dog bed. But what are you supposed to do when dog diapers don’t stay on your dog?

Try New Diaper Options

Dog Diapers

One option is to try new diapers. In my canine fecal incontinence survival guide post I shared the brand of diapers that we used with Jet.

Keep in mind that these diapers aren’t going to work for everyone, Jet was around 65lb. right before he passed and the XS adult diapers were only just staying on because he had lost weight from his original 80lbs.

So what do you want to look for in diapers for your dog?

  • Forget dog diapers and shop human pull-up style diapers. Human diapers are better designed to hold poop and pull-up style diapers work with the shape of your dog’s hind legs where tab-style diapers don’t.
  • Measure your dog’s waist where the diaper top will sit, this will give you an idea of the size you need. You want to go through infant/child sizes and when those no longer fit your dog, go to special needs diapers in youth sizes or XS adult sizes.
  • Don’t opt to save money and go with generic brands or cheaper brands, you NEED quality in this case. If you are strapped for funds, try shopping eBay, we found many great deals on Jet’s diapers there.

Secure That Diaper Well

Depending on how much your dog moves throughout the night and the fit of the diaper you are using, you may want to consider different options to do this.



Disposable pull-ups can work if your pup just doesn’t move much in their sleep. Goodnites brand was best for Jet, UnderJams ripped FREQUENTLY. We used size XL and just pulled a pair up over his overnight diaper. The added layer helped to keep his overnight diaper in place and you just have to cut a small hole for the tail.

Diaper Covers

Dog Diaper Cover

If your dog isn’t extremely mobile or just doesn’t move much during the night but their diaper still leaks overnight look into reusable snap diapers like these from Charlie Banana. Measure your dog’s waist just as you did with their diapers and make sure that the fit is right, if not, check out other reusable snap diapers (there are plenty to choose from).

Place this snap cover over your dog’s overnight diaper making sure that the elastic around the legs is snug but not tight. This gives a more secure layer over their overnight diaper and added elasticity around the legs to keep everything in one place overnight. Just remember to cut a hole for the tail!

Reusable covers are best because they save you SO MUCH money. Grab a pack of six or seven so that you aren’t having to run your washer daily (make sure to rinse used diaper covers though!)

There are velcro alternatives – we used one for a while – but they quickly become useless as the velcro gets filled with dog hair. When this happens you will hear your dog’s “diaper cover” coming off in the night and that’s never a good thing!

Industrial Strength Diaper Security

Dog Diaper Cover

If you have a dog that is particularly squirmy overnight, you want to look into a more “heavy duty” solution for keeping their diaper in place.

For these dogs the “diaper” or “pull-up” style cover isn’t going to work, you want to look into what they call “diaper wraps”. These fit OVER your dog’s overnight diaper and hold everything firmly in place overnight.

There are a few different brands of diaper wraps and we never used one with Jet so I can’t say whether one is better than another. Surgi Snuggly and DOGonGEAR both seem to be popular options.

These “wraps” look like bodysuits and work by keeping the diaper “anchored” in place much like a onesie would do for an infant. As with diaper covers, I’d suggest investing in a couple of these so they can be laundered without running your washer too often.

My one concern with the wrap style of diaper cover is overheating, so make sure to keep an eye on your pup for any signs of overheating due to the full coverage of this wrap style.

Dog Suspenders

Dog Suspenders

It’s a ridiculous term, but dog suspenders offer similar “holding capacity” to the diaper wraps above, but allow a little more breathability.

There are a few different designs for this type of product and since we never used any of them I can’t tell you whether one works more efficiently than another.

I am somewhat hesitant about the design of these for the same reason that you would be hesitant to allow a child to sleep in something similar – choking.

Other Notes For When Dog Diapers Fail:

In addition to the items above, here are some do’s and don’t’s for caring for your dog with fecal incontinence…


Do this when diapering your incontinent dog

  • Cover your dog’s bed with a waterproof backed picnic blanket to prevent any moisture seeping through to their bed.
  • Invest in cheap blankets to throw over the picnic blanket so bedding can easily be changed or if a “bad accident” happens, you can simply throw these away. You can usually find cheap options at Walmart, K-Mart, and in the Target dollar bin section. We preferred the “velvet” or “micro plush” variety since fleece isn’t as comfortable and gives off a LOT of static.
  • Consider crating in combination with diapers if your pup tries to wander around at night. Diapers and diaper covers will keep messes contained while crating will keep your dog safe.
  • Improvise and experiment. We went through a lot of “inventions” trying to find a good combination of containment for Jet’s diapering, don’t be afraid to play inventor so long as you aren’t putting your dog in danger or hurting them in any way.
  • Develop a “system” for when accidents do happen. If you use cheap blankets this can be as simple and cleaning up the mess with bath tissue, whipping off the blanket and throwing it in the washer, and putting a new blanket down. If you have a partner who can help with this it will take a lot of the stress out of accidents that do happen. For example, Jet’s daddy would always take care of Jet while I cleaned up the messes or if Jet needed a bath, I would bathe him while Jet’s daddy did the bed cleanup.
  • Keep baby wipes on hand for diaper changes and clean up after accidents. Dye-free and fragrance-free are best.
  • If you don’t already have a handheld showerhead that allows you to pull the showerhead from the wall, invest in one, it makes clean-up fast and easy.
  • Take diapers off when outdoors or on a tile surface that can easily be cleaned by using scissors to cut the side seams. Unlike human babies, your dog is not going to lie on their back and hold still while you take off a diaper, this means you WILL end up with diaper contents on the floor – don’t let it be your carpet.
  • Use a diaper genie and store it outside to keep odor to a minimum.
  • Keep a feeding/treat routine so that you can better predict your dog’s bowel habits.


Don't do this when diapering your incontinent dog

  • Don’t use a crate alone to contain messes. Without “local containment” (ie: something covering your dog’s bottom) you’re still going to end up facing a dog poop disaster.
  • Don’t use “tab style” diapers made for humans, they pull too tightly around your dog’s legs and can cause complications and discomfort.
  • Don’t get angry with your pup, they can’t help what’s happening to them and anger is going to solve nothing.

Questions or comments? Drop a comment below!

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