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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A wee problem

I have a border collie spayed bitch who is approximately 13 years old (she is a rescue dog so we are unsure exactly). Recently she has started leaving small damp patches occasionally while she is sleeping. She does not know she is doing this and is not asking to go outside. She has no discomfort going outside when she wants to. The vet did a range of blood tests earlier this year (for an unrelated problem) and nothing was flagged up. This seems to be becoming more frequent (2-3 days a month as opposed to once every 2-3 months last year). I'm aware that vets often prescribe either Propalin or Incurin for urinary incontinence when it gets to be a problem, but wondered if anyone has any alternative remedies that may be tried? We haven't seen any increase in water intake.
She is currently taking carprofen, glucosamine and cod liver oil for her arthritis.
Kathryn Cowin

Alison Logan, vet, advises:
Both my Border Collies, mother Nan and daughter Judy, developed urinary incontinence later in life, interestingly round about the thirteen years old mark. I confess that it actually took me some time to appreciate that Nan was leaking whilst asleep because the Vetbed on which she slept was so efficient at soaking up the urine!
This was back in the early 1990’s, when treatment options were limited. Vivitonin (Intervet) had recently appeared and helping urinary incontinence was mentioned as a potential beneficial side-effect. I often call it ‘the geriatric pep pill’ and it certainly stopped first Nan and then Judy from having urinary incontinence, as well as improving their general demeanour.
They each lived on into their sixteenth year with dignity.

Nick Thompson, holistic vet advises:
Causticum 30 or 200c is the first homeopathic remedy to think of when dealing with mild incontinence in spayed bitches. It sounds like you've gone through diagnostic options with your vet. Well done. It can be a bit dangerous to just try remedies willy-nilly as leaking in older dogs can be signs of kidney disease, cystitis, Cushing's disease or diabetes, for example.
Causticum would be dosed twice daily for five days, then daily for 10 days to assess response. After this, dose minimally as necessary. The other two remedies I use in this situation as first prescriptions would commonly include: Pulsatilla (involuntary urination during sleep) and Kreosotum (leaking during deep sleep) dosed similarly.
I like using acupuncture in these cases. It's quick, easy and very effective, often. To find a veterinary acupuncturist near you check out the website for the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists (
Once or twice I've seen bitches who are otherwise okay getting leaky after severe exercise. Severe exercise for a 13-year-old collie is very different from that for a three-year-old, so you have to take this into account. I've also got an older bitch on my books who leaks when she is given a certain type of doggie treat (junk food - grrr). It's worth taking an open look to see if there is any association with food or exercise or any other predisposing factors, however weird or inexplicable they may seem.

1 comment:

  1. Christine Bailey26 May 2009 at 03:48

    Hi Kathryn

    A remedy that I had success with is a product by Phytopet called "Dry", which pretty much says it all really! It's a combination of herbs supplied as a liquid, which you add to a little hot water and then into the food. Certainly worth a try as a first port of call as it doesn't cost a lot either. It's available from as well as other sites I'm sure.

    There are various homoeopathic remedies that could help, I understand Causticum is one, also my holistic vet advised that a course of specialised acupuncture might do the trick if all else failed.

    If the Dry does not help, I would ask your vet for a referral to a holistic/homoeopathic vet as I'm sure this problem can be helped without recourse to drugs - although, to be fair, a lot of elderly bitches seem to be fine on long-term Propalin/Incurin.

    If you want to have a chat, give me a call or email me at Dogs Today.