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GRACIEMAEhey 141Gracie Mae is a diaper dog for life. 


When she was first turned over to rescue she went through all the normal vetting and even went to see specialists. We were told she was born with a birth defect that even surgery would not be able to correct. There were questions concerning if she could even be able to live a normal life. Who on earth would want to adopt a dog that dribbled and pooped all over the house all of the time? Foster families are hard enough to find for healthy dogs. Our house already had been set up for sick and senior dogs. We could at least establish if she would remain healthy and later look for a foster home or forever home.  So we checked into diapers.  Several years have gone by and Gracie Mae is still a diaper dog.  We adopted her since we were getting used to changing diapers every three or four hours. Now Gracie also tells us when she needs them changed.  We knew when we took her in this would be a lifelong condition. She might live to be 13 or 15 years old. Little feisty Gracie has blessed our life with the youthful nature that a young dog has. Gracie is only 3 now.


What do you do if your Boston leaks urine or cannot control his bowels?
This nasty smelly condition may not be your dog's fault at all. So what can a pet owner do?   This could be a health issue called incontinence. Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. Fecal incontinence is the inability of a dog or cat to control his bowels.


LEAKYSORRYWhat is Urinary Incontinence? (We do have a habit of using the big words don't we!)
Involuntary passage of urine normally occurs while your pet is asleep or resting. When she stands, you may notice urine leakage. It can be just a small wet spot, or it can be a good-sized puddle.

It's important to understand that your pet is not intentionally leaking urine. She has no control over what's happening. It's not a behavioral problem; it's a medical issue. Trying to correct or punish your pet is a really bad idea. It's very important to treat urine dribbling as a medical problem requiring a medical diagnosis, rather than as a behavioral problem.

There are many causes for urine leaking:

including trauma to the central nervous system, damage to the pudendal nerve (the nerve that works the neck of the bladder), diseases of the bladder, kidney, or adrenal glands (for instance, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, or diabetes), as well as bladder stones, birth defects and urethral obstruction. Other known causes of urine dribbling are age-related incontinence, a hormone imbalance, and feline leukemia. Hormone-induced urinary incontinence is extremely common in spayed female dogs and somewhat less common in neutered male dogs. These are typically very healthy, vibrant pets that just happen to dribble urine anywhere from multiple times a day to just once or twice a year. ¹

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While there are commonly prescribed drugs for urinary incontinence:
Be sure and ask your vet to investigate the cause of the urine dribbling before placing them on these drugs.  They may assume that it must be hormone-induced. There are other reasons that need to be looked at and may be found that have a disease cause. i.e. Urinary crystals or bladder stones, Cushing's disease, diabetes or kidney disease.

The cause of your pet's urinary incontinence should always dictate what treatment she receives. If there's an underlying disease process or structural abnormality causing the problem, it might be corrected through medical or surgical management.

There are herbal remedies, including corn silk, lemon balm and horse tail. There are some great nutraceuticals specifically formulated to help with incontinence. Frequently acupuncture can be used to stimulate the pudendal nerve. And chiropractic can do a great job keeping the central nervous system working appropriately.

Dogs with urinary incontinence that can't be completely resolved can be fitted with belly bands, doggy bloomers or panties with absorbent pads. You can even use human disposable diapers, and just cut a hole out for the tail if that arrangement fits your pet's body shape. Just remember that urine is caustic and should not remain on your pet's skin for very long. It's important if you use diapers to change them regularly and disinfect your pet's skin.  Scalded areas are usually treated topically with anti-inflammatory salves that also contain antibiotics. Baby wipes can be used to keep the skin clean. Use only those lotions that will not be a problem if the dog licks and ingests them. Never use anything with zinc, such as diaper rash ointment, which can be toxic if ingested.

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With Gracie Mae we use human diapers size 4 and put them on backwards so that the tapes are on her back. By covering the diaper with a doggie diaper cover and sometimes adding a homemade elastic suspenders, they stay on pretty well.  It has been easier for us since she doesn't have a tail, but cutting a hole in each diaper may help those who have dogs with tails.



Fecal Incontinence
Fecal incontinence is almost always due to the colon and brain not communicating effectively. The nerves that control the colon are supposed to send a message to the brain when it's time to go outside. If there's a problem with the lower back – for example, degenerative myelopathy, peripheral myopathy, arthritis, muscle weakness, atrophy, a spinal tumor, or a condition such as myasthenia gravis – the communication pathway is compromised, and the animal isn't aware nature is calling.


This is the type of condition that our Gracie Mae has, which in her case effects both her peeing and pooping control. Although she has learned to "feel" she is unable to control the processes. She has taught me what certain grunting sounds mean and we try to be responsive in letting her go outside like a normal dog. However by the time she tells us, the process has either been completed or already in progress.  But she tries, that is what is important.

In older pets, the anal sphincter can lose its ability to hold in feces efficiently.FEMALEINCONTINENCEPANTS

Parasites can also contribute to fecal incontinence. If you have a pet that has diarrhea for an extended period of time, there can be damage to the muscles of the rectum, which can lead to the problem as well.

Other causes of fecal incontinence can include an abscess or infection of the anal glands, a dietary issue, medications or a perianal fistula.

Owners of pets with fecal incontinence might find accidents around the house. Or the pet could inadvertently pass feces when he uses his abdominal muscles to go from a lying position to a standing position, or when he jumps up on the couch or in similar situations requiring use of the abdominal muscles.

MALEBELLYBANDYour dog or cat may also poop while walking without knowing she's doing it. It can also happen during sleep. Excessive gas and swelling of the abdomen are common in cases of fecal incontinence. To find the underlying cause of your pet's fecal incontinence, your vet will want to do a complete blood profile – including a chemistry profile, CBC, urinalysis and a fecal analysis – to check for the presence of an infection or parasites. Sometimes, additional diagnostics such as X-rays may be required to check for spinal arthritis or a bone tumor.

Things you might also try:
Try altering diet. Feed low-residue diets or foods such as cottage cheese, rice or tofu. Feed your dog on a regular schedule.


Problems resulting from urinary incontinence
Dogs suffering from urinary incontinence have some common secondary problems. They have a much higher incidence of bladder infections. It is believed that with the more lax opening to the bladder, the easier it is for bacteria to migrate up the urethra and colonize the bladder. These dogs may need to be on antibiotics until the incontinence is dealt with.

You might want to read more on this subject:

Belly Bands for Incontinent Issues for Senior Bostons 

What are Belly Bands, What are their uses? 

Urinary Incontinence in Dogs

The causes of urinary incontinence