As pets age, there are many conditions or diseases that can become more common, such as arthritis or kidney disease. One issue that can become particularly frustrating for owners and place a strain on the human pet bond is incontinence, either urinary or fecal. Incontinence is the lack of voluntary control resulting in inappropriate passage of urine or feces. In addition to having to clean up after your pet repeatedly, it can also cause discomfort for the pet from a skin infection caused by prolonged exposure to urine or feces. It’s important that if you believe your pet is becoming incontinent to recognize the signs and to proceed with a full exam in order to verify that there is not another medical issue occurring.
Urinary incontinence is a bit more common than fecal incontinence, and is more prevalent in older spayed female dogs. Often, owners will report that there is a puddle of urine under where their pet was sleeping, or perhaps they have noticed dribbling of urine without the pet aware that it was occurring. The main point is that the pet does not seem aware of the urination and therefore are not posturing as they normally would. Some causes of urinary incontinence include neurologic conditions, urinary sphincter incompetence, and anatomic abnormalities. A basic workup includes a full physical exam, urinalysis with a possible culture and sensitivity, and basic blood work. The basic workup is important to also rule-out other differential diagnoses that may mimic incontinence, such as a urinary tract infection, prostatic disease, and endocrine disease. Urinary tract infections, for example, may seem like incontinence because the pet is urinating in the house, when really they are only doing that because a urinary tract infection causes a pet to urinate more frequently. Once other conditions are ruled out, there are medications available that may control the symptoms of urinary incontinence. Frequent rechecks may be needed initially to find the right medication or dose and to continue to monitor for side effects or other medical conditions.
Fecal incontinence can be equally frustrating. Again the patient will not be aware that they are defecating and therefore will not posture as normal, often defecating while sleeping or walking. Causes can be neurologic (spinal cord trauma or compression from injury, intervertebral disc disease, or neoplasia) or non-neurologic (trauma to the anal sphincter, previous surgery, or perianal fistula). Just like urinary incontinence, a basic workup including an exam, a fecal test, and blood work is imperative to address the pets overall health and rule-out other underlying medical conditions. Other diseases that may mask incontinence or alter the severity include arthritis or diarrhea. Fecal incontinence, depending on the cause, can be trickier than urinary incontinence to treat. Occasionally changes in diet can be made or motility modifying drugs can help control the incontinence. However, sometimes there is not much that can be done to completely resolve the problem. That’s why I recommend to move it into legal council, this website will help you.
Overall, regardless of whether your pet is urinating or defecating inappropriately, a full physical exam and diagnostic tests are extremely useful to rule-out other conditions and to get your pet started on appropriate treatment. Incontinence can surely put a damper on your relationship with your pet, so don’t delay in getting your pet checked out!