Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Urinary Incontinence in JRT's

Urinary Incontinence in JRT's most commonly presents with involuntary or uncontrollable leakage of urine from the bladder.  In many cases, you will also notice your JRT licking the area of the leakage more often than usual.

Jack Russell Terrier:

Most JRT’s owners associate urinary incontinence with the natural progression of age.  Although that is one factor of its development, it is not the only one.  It is possible that the underlying cause may not be age at all, and for this reason it is highly advised if you suspect incontinence that you have your JRT examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

Let's play! Scout - Jack Russell Terrier:

For the most part, the symptoms of urinary incontinence are pretty much the same from breed to breed.  Although the underlying causes may differ, the symptoms usually do not.  These may include:
·         Urine leakage—aka involuntary peeing
·         Wet fur on the lower abdominal area, or between the rear legs
·         Wet spots appearing on your JRT’s bedding or in their sleeping area
·         Urinary tract infections—or UTI’s
·         Inflammation of the skin around the genitals
·         Increased licking in and the around the area of the leakage

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Jack Russells looking out the window:

First and foremost, before assuming incontinence, it is best to consider other possible causes.
  • Submissive Urination—many young JRT’s suffer from this condition when they feel threatened or are fearful.  The good news is that in most cases, this condition is outgrown.
  • Territory Marking—if your JRT is an unneutered male, it may be a simple case of them marking their territory, a normal yet irritating habit.
  •  Potty Training—finally, it may just be a process of reinforcing the potty training, plain and simple. With older JRT’s, age may come into play, and they may actually forget their training. 
Once you have ruled out the above conditions being the underlying cause of the incontinence, then you may look at the main causes of urinary incontinence in JRT’s
  • UTI—Urinary Tract Infection or bladder infection
                        With the use of urinalysis, your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the presence of a 
UTI or bladder infection.  Incontinence from a UTI or bladder infection is a common occurrence in your female JRT’s.  After confirming the infection your veterinarian will most probably choose to prescribe a one to three week round of antibiotics, developed to specifically target this type of infection treatment.  Although incontinence due to bladder infection may begin to show a significant improvement just a few days after initial treatment, it is imperative that you finish out the round of medication anyways.
  •  A weak bladder sphincter—most common in older, spayed females
The most common factors that bring on this condition are age, obesity, and the reduction of sensitivity in the neurological receptors in the sphincter itself.  Low levels of hormones, mainly estrogen, in spayed females is suspected to bring on this condition.  One in five JRT’s will suffer from this condition that can effectively be treated with medication.
  •  Excessive water consumption
Simply put, your JRT drinks and drinks and then drinks some more.  All this drinking is filling the bladder too full, and then it has to go somewhere.  But, also keep in mind that there may be an underlying condition to why your JRT is drinking so much.  That condition could include:  diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, Cushing’s disease, diabetes insipidus, or again a bladder infection.  It is very important that you have your JRT examined by your veterinarian in order to rule out these possible conditions.
  • Spinal cord disease
With this one, the condition is usually in the lower lumbar region and this may include protruding discs.  If discs are the culprit, then surgery may be necessary. 

Secondary problems with Urinary Incontinence

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JRT’s that suffer from urinary incontinence may also suffer from secondary conditions in conjunction with the primary condition as well.  These may include:

  •     Bladder infections--a JRT who suffers from urinary incontinence may also suffer from an increase in bladder infections.  With the sphincter muscle being more lax bacteria has a better chance of migrating into the bladder and causing infection to set up.  Until your JRT’s incontinence is under control, they may need to be on a maintenance program of antibiotics.

  • Urine scalding--urine is a very caustic substance, and when it comes in consistent contact with the skin, it will set up irritation and swelling.  This is usually treated with a topical solution that both heals with antibiotics and contains an anti-inflammatory for discomfort.
  • Non-responsive to medication--some JRT’s just do not respond well to the medication for incontinence.  If this is the case, then the use of doggie diapers or bloomers may be a very viable option for you.  The diapers/bloomers will provide a sanitary option, as they soak up the urine, while at the same time keeping it from irritating your JRT’s skin.
Treatments for Urinary Incontinence

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If you suspect incontinence in your JRT, get with your veterinarian.  Through a series of examinations and testing’s he will be able to track down the underlying cause, and make a diagnosis that will best benefit you and your JRT. 

The good news is that, more often than not, the treatment of urinary incontinence in JRT’s is quite simple and low cost. 
  •  Phenylpropanolamine (PPA)—this is a decongestant that is used for the treatment of urinary incontinence.   Used most commonly in both male and female JRT’s, this medication helps in the strengthening and tightening of the sphincter muscle. 
  •  Diethylstilbestrol (DES)—an estrogen supplement commonly used in spayed females for control of urinary incontinence. 
  • Testosterone—monthly injections of testosterone are used for neutered males with hormonally-induced incontinence.  It is wise to note that this type of treatment may cause increased urine marking and aggressive behavior. 
  • Collagen—a new surgery involving collagen injections now available is a viable option when other options for treatment of incontinence are ineffective. 
  •  Natural Treatments—herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, homeopathic remedies, along with a homemade diet have shown positive results in some cases of treating urinary incontinence. 
Urinary incontinence in your JRT, with proper diagnosis, can be treated.  No longer to only be written off as a result of age, there are alternatives to help your JRT and to make both your lives more comfortable and enjoyable

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