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Dealing with incontinence: thorough testing is the first step.

QUESTION

I enjoy reading your column. Over the years your dad's articles were very helpful in caring for my dogs but this is the first time I have contacted you and hope you can help me out with my current situation.

My English springer spaniel is a 7-year-old male and he has been urinating in his sleep. Initially the amount of urine was small and several days passed between incidents. I took him to my vet and he was treated for a urinary tract infection (UTI) with antibiotics, which took care of the problem for about eight weeks.

He then had another incident, nothing for eight days, then two more incidents on consecutive nights. This brings us to the present. Also, the volume of urine has increased with the second bout. My research tells me UTIs are not common in males.

Here is some more background. I live in east-central Minnesota and hunt my spaniel on upland birds. He also gets a fair amount of lake time at the cabin during the summer. He is not a kennel dog and spends most of his time indoors. Other than urinating in his sleep he seems healthy, is active and has a good appetite.

Any suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated.--G

ANSWER

The fact that the symptoms were resolved following the use of antibiotics suggests bacterial infection is a part of the accidents at home. Simple bladder infections can be complicated by diabetes, bladder stones, prostate problems, cancers, structural abnormalities, resistant bacteria and other less common problems. These complications allow the infection to return or possibly never be resolved completely during the initial treatment.

The first and most valuable thing we can do is a urinalysis. You may bring a sample in that you collect at home in a clean plastic container or the nurses at the clinic could help collect a sample at the clinic. Male dogs are always willing to go one more time, especially when away from home. This type of urine sample is described as a "free catch" and can be affected by contamination at the end of the prepuce.

A more accurate sample can be collected by doing a cystocentesis. The doctor uses a needle and syringe to collect a sterile sample of urine directly from the bladder for testing. A urinalysis (UA) gives a huge amount of information for very little money compared to many other diagnostic tests we have.

The UA can give information about bacterial infections of the bladder, diabetes, many kidney problems, prostate problems, cancer, and bladder and kidney stones. The UA is a great guide as to what testing may need to be done next.

The next most valuable thing we can do is a good physical exam. This should include a prostate exam, especially in an intact male dog. Urinary tract infections are less common in male dogs than female dogs. Uncomplicated infections of the bladder can be fairly easily treated in either sex.

The major problem with intact males is the prostate. When the prostate becomes enlarged, inflamed and infected, it becomes very hard to resolve the infection. Very strong antibiotics must be used to get effective drug levels into the prostate.

Many times castration is needed to decrease the hormonal influence on the prostate and allow it to shrink. Often this is the only way to completely resolve chronic bacterial prostatitis. This chronic infection is what can cause repeated bladder infections in intact male dogs.

The infection within the prostate continually seeds down the bladder with bacteria. Eventually the body's defenses can't keep up and a full blown bladder infection occurs again. This acute infection causes more obvious symptoms for the dog rather than the chronic bacterial prostatitis smoldering under the surface for long periods of time.

Get a urinalysis and physical exam done and be sure to have the urine sample rechecked at the end of the antibiotics.

By John Holcomb, DVM

Contact Dr.Holcomb with your questions at ccac@qwestoffice.net.
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Title Annotation:Veterinary Clinic
Author:Holcomb, John
Publication:Gun Dog
Date:Mar 1, 2014
Words:666
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