My Labrador started urinating in the house

Q: I have a black lab, who is about ten years old. He has always had a problem with urinating in the house when there is a thunderstorm. Recently he has begun to urinate in the house on other occasions. For instance, he knows that he is not allowed on our sofa. However, the other day he jumped on the sofa and urinated on it (when he was not in our presence). I believe he did it out of anger because my wife didn’t take him for a morning run. (I had already run him about an hour earlier.) We keep him caged during a work day to control the thunderstorm problem. However, he has free run of the house at other times. I would appreciate any advice you have on how we can control his urination problems. The only solution I can come up with is to put him in his cage whenever we are not there.

A: Nervous urination is a behavioral problem, best approached through training and obedience. Understanding he urinates when frightened, you may try to condition him to loud noises. You can also designate a location, accessible at all times, at which it is OK to urinate. You will need to train him to use this area. If he does become frightened, he may be able to make it to the safe spot. Incontinence is a physical problem, more common in puppies and older dogs. Special medications, such as phenylpropanolamine, can be given orally to increase bladder sphincter control. If he tends to leak urine during the day, you may give him a pill or two before you leave for work in the morning. Your veterinarian can help you find the best medication and dosage for your dog.

Bladder stones

Q: I have a seven year old mixed female dog. She has been urinating a lot, we took her to the vet. He felt around and said she has bladder stones. He told us our only option would be to have surgery. Approximate cost is between $800 and $1000, which we do not have. Are there any other options that we might have? I don’t want to lose her.

A: Bladder stones can have many origins, including diet, bladder infections, or bladder cancer. It is important to find and eliminate the cause, to prevent further stone formation. Prescription diets and urinary acidifiers are available to dissolve some types of stones. Although these do work, many months may pass before completion. During this time you run the risk of serious complications, including urethral blockage, and bladder wall damage. Surgery is the fastest, most direct, and most effective means of removing bladder stones. You may wish to consult another veterinarian in your area for a comparative price quote. In addition to the surgery, your dog may need antibiotics, x-rays and blood tests. Be sure to be clear on what all is included in the price quote.

I found blood in the cat box

Q: While cleaning out the litter box I found some blood. Should I call the now, or wait to see if I see more? I have two cats so I don’t know which one it is.

A: Blood in the stool of cats and dogs can be caused by rectal irritation, parasites, anal glands, or infections. Blood in the urine of cats and dogs can be caused by bladder stones, cancers, urethritis, bladder infections or urinary sand. If you only see a small amount of blood once, and your cats seem fine, then you don’t need to worry. If the blood continues, worsens, becomes associated with mucus or foul odor, or if your pets act sick, stop eating, or strain to urinate or defecate, then you should arrange for a visit from your veterinarian immediately.

Kidney infections

Q: I have a ten year old dog that has a near fatal case of E-coli infection in her kidneys. This dog is in a fenced yard but in contact with cats. Where would she likely have contracted this infection?

A: Sorry to hear of your dog’s illness. I wish her a speedy recovery. E. coli is a germ naturally found in the digestive system, in the feces and around the anus of dogs. She likely introduced the germ into her urinary system by licking back and forth between her vulva and anus. The E. coli bacteria likely caused a urethritis, then cystitis (a bladder infection) before migrating to the kidney. Bladder infections, if left untreated, can easily progress to the more severe kidney infections.

What else can I use besides phenylpropanolamine for my incontinent Shepherd?

Q: I have a seven year old female spayed German shepherd, approximately 95 lbs. She has had urinary incontinence since 1 1/2 years old. She will also have uncontrolled urination (dribbling) while at rest. She is not aware that she is urinating as it leaks all over, soaking her. She was started on DES 1mg, but it had no effect, then was put on Phenylpropanolamine 50mg, 1 tablet three times a day. This medication worked up until recently, but now she is having more frequent episodes with this problem. We have now been using Bethanechol, 25 mg, 1/4 tablet 3 times a day, for about 1 month, but it does not seem to have improved the problem. We have had lab work and a urinalysis done recently and both returned normal results. Do you have any suggestions or any information for us?

A: Incontinence is most common in older, spayed dogs. It is caused by a failure of the urethral sphincter muscle to properly close the urine flow. It is unusual for a seven year old to be incontinent, so you may wish to pursue the problem diagnostically with you veterinarian, before trying sphincter control medications. Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is a common, over the counter medication, found in diet pills, and decongestant tablets. Prolonged or high dose usage can cause dry sinuses, leading to nose bleeds, and weight loss. The nerves and muscles this medication was acting upon may have built up temporary resistance. I recommend trying this medication again after a two to three month break. Also, PPA works only for a brief few hours after ingestion, so it often works best dosing a critical times of the day, rather than a routine of every eight hours. You should work closely with your veterinarian for dosing assistance, however at 50 mg, most shepherds are able to take higher amounts. PPA is a very safe medicine, and much preferred over Estrogen for urinary control problems. You may be able to approach the problem behaviorally, by training her to go outside frequently, or give her urinary pads to use.

Why does my Cattle Dog leak urine after surgery?

Q: I own a seven-year-old Australian Cattle Dog. She was spayed at the age of six months. She started leaking urine two days after surgery. My vet put her on Amfed which helped for awhile, but it caused her to almost quit eating. I was told Amfed depresses the appetite. Her leaking is getting worse especially after trail riding with my horse and during hot weather. HELP!!!!! What can I do?

A: Urinary incontinence has many causes, with just as many solutions. Be sure to have your veterinarian investigate the cause of the problem. Don’t just blame it on the spay surgery. If urethral sphincter strength has reduced, several medications are available for her doctor to prescribe. They are generally safe, with few side effects, one being reduced appetite. You and your doctor may decide to use a different medication, or to rotate medications. Phenylpropanolamine is a common choice of veterinarians. Ask your veterinarian if you can increase the dose or frequency. The appetite suppression often occurs for only 30 minutes to one hour after medicating, whereas the sphincter control improves for hours. Therefore, medicate several hours prior to meals. You may be able to approach the problem behaviorally, by training her to go outside frequently, or give her urinary pads to use.

Should my puppy really be urinating this frequently?

Q: We just got a Lab puppy about a month ago, he is about 16 weeks old and he is urinating rather often. We take him outside and almost immediately he has to go outside again. Is this behavior typical of puppies, or could there be something more serious wrong with him? Thank you for your help.

A: Frequent urination is not uncommon for puppies. Be thankful he makes it outside to perform his duties! If he seems to strain to urinate, lick his urethra often, have a strange odor to the urine, or you see blood in the urine, then you should mention this to your veterinarian on one of his puppy check-ups. In warm weather, a dog drinks more water to keep cool, and urinates more often.

What can I do for my incontinent terrier?

Q: My dog Scotty is a 10 year old West Highland White Terrier. For the past couple of years he has been having problems with urinating in his bed. At first it only happened when there was a thunderstorm or when he didn’t want to be put in his crate. We thought it was rebellion. Then it started happening all the time. Recently he has recovered from a bladder infection. He was urinating all over the place repeatedly. We thought the two problems were related. The infection cleared up with antibiotics, but the bed-wetting didn’t. Do you have any idea what it could be? Thank you very much.

A: Incontinence in your dog may have many possible causes. Bladder infections are often recurrent, and he may have the problem again, even recently following a previous infection. The previous infection may have cause bladder sphincter or urethral damage which may take a long time to heal. He may have some residual urethral irritation. He may have become accustomed to urinating in his bed, and even though the infection may be gone, he doesn’t realize it is wrong to urinate in bed. Many other possibilities exist, including hereditary problems common to Scottish Terriers, bladder stones, tumors, behavioral problems, etc. I recommend you go back to your veterinarian for further investigation.

My puppy dribbles urine. Is this normal?

Q: I have a nine month old dog that is not house broken. We cannot let him roam the house while we are at work because he will urinate. He learned to lift his leg, so his crate is nice and dry, but my floor is nice and wet. The vet said a dog should be able to hold it for 12 hrs. max if they have to. But this dog won’t. We do let our two cats roam around, but we cannot trust our dog. Any suggestions? I don’t know how much longer I can continue cleaning. When he was younger he didn’t have a problem. Now that he’s been neutered he just doesn’t hold it. An infection has already been ruled out. Any advice would be appreciated.

A: First, investigate and rule out all non-behavioral causes, such as bladder stones, bladder sand, excessive water consumption, or congenital urinary tract deformities, in addition to the infection you already mentioned. You may want to contract with a professional housecall dog trainer to help you with training. Training is gradual, so don’t jump immediately to a 12 hour period and get mad if accidents are made. You want 99% to your attention towards your dog to be positive, so make it easy for him to do things right at first. Reward with praise, love and affection. For instance, let him roam the kitchen for five minutes, then praise him for not urinating. Then take him outside, and reward him when he urinates outside. Gradually increase the time inside. You may use newspaper on the floor to symbolize the area that is OK to urinate upon. At first, 100% of the floor is newspaper; he can’t go wrong. Reduce the area covered as he learns. Punishment should be mildly stern verbal communication only, and is only effective immediately when mistakes are made. Coming home and finding puddles doesn’t warrant scolding unless you see him have the accidents.

Diet for kidney disease

Q: My dog is 13 years old and needs a dog food low in protein, phosphours and sodium because of kidney disease. Can you recommend a brand name for me?

A: The kidneys are responsible for cleansing the blood of waste products. It accomplishes this by filtering all materials from the water in the blood, then reabsorbing the useful and needed molecules. Protein molecules are large, and difficult for the kidney to handle, especially in a diseased condition. Phosphorus and sodium are ions which are carefully regulated by the kidney. The more ions, the harder a kidney has to work, and diseased kidneys need to rest to repair their problem. Diets lower in protein, phosphorus and sodium reduce the labor load on a kidney.

Protein is necessary for many of the body’s normal functions, including growth and repair of muscles, skin and organs. A diet too low in protein, or with an imbalance of amino acids which make up protein, is unhealthy and will cause the dog to weaken and loose weight. Sodium and phosphorus are also necessary for normal body function, and must be included in a dog’s normal diet, even with kidney disease. Therefore, a balanced diet with as low as possible protein, phosphorus and sodium still maintaining the body’s minimum requirements is the best diet for a dog with kidney disease. With such a fine line keeping these nutrients as low as possible for the kidneys, but still providing sufficient nutrition, a scientifically formulated, professionally produced product is preferred over homemade diets.

The government issues guidelines and regulates the minimum contents of commercial dog foods available over the counter at pet shops. Only prescription diets can offer the lower protein, sodium and phosphorus especially made for dogs with kidney disease. Hills makes K/D diet and Purina makes CNM Kidney diet. Both are excellent choices for dogs with renal failure or other kidney disease. Both are available only from veterinarians, for they are prescription diets. It is necessary to have a proper diagnosis and prescription for these diets because healthy dogs may have problems if fed a kidney disease diet when they have healthy kidneys.