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Monday, April 22, 2013

Fecal Incontinence and Your Dog

Suddenly your beloved pet companion leaves "surprises" in the most inappropriate places such as the the living room, kitchen or closet . . . what may be happening is a condition known as Fecal Incontinence.
Medically referred to as fecal incontinence, is a condition in which the dog is losing its ability to control its bowel movements. This condition is distressing for both the dog and the pet parent. Typical causes of fecal incontinence include injury to the spine or tail, anal gland diseases, intestinal disorders and aging. Fecal incontinence seems to afflict senior and geriatric dogs more than young ones. Typical symptoms of fecal incontinence may include scooting on the floor which may indicate a condition involving the anal sacs or anal glands; defecating inside the home or inappropriate places; a bloated abdomen; a tenderness or aversion to being touched near tail; or a loss of tone and voluntary movement of the tail.

Many causes may contribute to fecal incontinence. Certain diseases may reduce the capacity or capability of the rectum to function normally. The external anal sphincter may have been anatomically disrupted. Nerves may have been damaged or destroyed. A spinal cord disease, neural disorder and even hip dysplasia may be culprits in disabling the sphincter's ability to function properly. Anal sacs may have become infected or abscessed. The anal reflex is absent or weakened. Intestinal parasites or perianal fistula may be present. Certain prescription medications or an improper diet, an even canine senility may be contributing factors. A gastrointestinal disease may increase the urge to defecate and is not necessarily an indication of fecal incontinence. Gastrointestinal disease may often cause weight loss, vomiting, spasms of the urogenital diaphragm and a desire to evacuate the bowel or bladder.

A medical evaluation by your veterinarian is necessary to determine the baseline cause of the fecal incontinence. If you have a feeling about the possible cause of your pet’s fecal incontinence, be sure to provide this information to your veterinarian. Provide a history of the symptoms and incidents that may have precipitated this condition to your veterinarian. The more you as a pet parent can tell your doctor the better your doctor can find a direction for the underlying cause of the symptoms to treat your dog quickly and effectively. Generally during a normal wellness physical examination, your veterinarian will go over your dog's physiology thoroughly, paying attention to the muscles of the anus and sphincter. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, T4 for thyroid, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and a fecal analysis. If an infection or parasite is present, it will most likely turn up through one of these diagnostic methods. Always ask for copies of all the laboratory reports that are conducted on your dog. You have paid for them and they are yours and you may need them in the future should you change veterinarians or in an emergency. A great veterinarian will take into consideration the importance of a natural diet, additional supplements as well as suggesting the value of the less costly Titer Tests rather than routine vaccinations with aging dogs. The lack of supporting evidence for any health condition may lead your veterinarian to determine the cause for the fecal incontinence as behavioral. Ask your veterinarian on how to proceed with a behavioral retraining program or get a second opinion.

A great veterinarian will value your input and philosophy on your pet’s care and will respect your position. Try to have a continuum of care with a veterinarian. Seek the "ole fashioned" veterinary office where your dog sees the same doctor, and to quote the old “Cheers” television program . . . “where everyone knows your dog’s name”.
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