Urinary Incontinence in Dogs
In a healthy dog that does not have bladder issues, urine voiding is controlled by a muscular band of tissue that is located at the bladder base. This band works like a valve that is controlled consciously by the dog to hold in urine when needed and release urine when needed.
When house trained a dog is taught how to properly and voluntarily control their bladder for timely voiding. Hormones also play a large role in how well a dog is able to control their bladder.
The hormone estrogen in female dogs is highly important as it has a huge effect on the strength of the muscles that allow urine to escape the bladder. In male dogs, the hormone that plays the same role is called testosterone.
When these hormones are decreased due to natural causes or otherwise, incontinence becomes an issue. Incontinence is the inability to consciously control the bladder resulting in involuntary leakage of urine.
Sometimes urinary incontinence is minor without only small quantities of urine escaping and causing a ‘dribble’ of urine here and there. In other cases, urinary incontinence is significantly worse and large amounts of urine escape the bladder, causing a much bigger mess.
Urinary incontinence most commonly happens in older dogs, who’s hormone levels have decreased due to age or other health issues. However, older dogs that have been spayed or neutered seem to have more issues with incontinence.
This is due to the fact that the organs responsible for producing the important hormones are removed during the procedure. In female dogs the organ removed is the ovaries while in male dogs the testicle are removed.
It is rare, but urinary incontinence can effect younger dogs as a result of congenital anatomic abnormalities.
What is Proin?
It is a drug that is used for dogs as a supplement for helping to control urinary incontinence and the resulting bladder leakage.
The drug helps with bladder control by working to tighten the muscles in the bladder that control leakage.
At one time it was a human drug that was marketed for use as a diet drug by the name of Dexatrim. It was pulled from use, however, after the side effects it was associated with were deemed too dangerous.
The most common side effect found with the use of Dexatrim was that strokes.
It was found, through various studies, that this side effect only presented itself in humans and never occurred in dogs. As a result, the drug was approved and released for use in dogs with bladder control issues.
When considering the use of Proin in your dog, be sure to first consult with your vet and make sure that other issues are not also present.
For example, if such issues as a bladder infection or kidney infection are also present, it is recommended that your search out an alternative method for dealing with bladder issues as something other than Proin is likely to be much more beneficial for your dog.
It is also important to be aware of that fact that even though it may help control urinary incontinence, it has not, as of yet, been shown to cure the issue.
Most dogs that benefit from the use of Proin without any significant side effects, usually end up needing to use the drug for the rest of their lives. In some cases, however, a certain dog may be able to continue to see successful results over time with a decreased dosage of the drug.
It is also highly important to be thorough and clear with your vet on any other medications or therapies that your dog may be taking as it can be contraindicated to use Dexatrim with other medications. This especially important if your dog has had more than one veterinarian. Don’t assume that the notes are complete or up-to-date.
It should never be used alongside MAOIs (examples include Preventic Collar and selegiline), or with epinephrine or ephedrine. It is also possible that it could react with antidepressants, digoxin, aspirin, NSAIDs, and Rimadyl.
In addition to violent reactions, sometimes these medications simply cause a reduction in the efficiency of incontinence drugs, causing you to think it isn’t working.
Discuss alternative therapies and options with your vet if your dog has diabetes, thyroid or glaucoma issues or high blood pressure. Also be sure to discuss any former allergies to any of the ingredients used in the medication.
Proin is available in several different dosage sizes and is usually prescribed based on the weight of the dog needing the medication. Tablets come in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg doses and are available in chewable form. It is also available in the form of oral drops.
Always follow the dosage instructions that are prescribed by your vet. Generally, doses are prescribed at 0.8 mg for every pound and are given every 12 hours with food. Your vet should always be consulted before any decrease or increase in dosage.
If you happen to miss a dose, give the missed dose on the same day as soon as you remember it. However, if you don’t remember until the next day, then skip the missed dose and continue on with the next dose. Be sure to never double dose your dog with Proin.
As with any patient and any medication taken, there are always risks of side effects.
Some dogs are fortunate to escape with little to no side effects and are able to stay on Proin for extensive amounts of time. As mentioned above, some dogs even stay on it for the rest of their lives to manage their symptoms.
However, other less fortunate dogs will suffer some if not many side effects. It really cannot be known how the dog will react to the drug until it is tried out.
Sometimes side effects are mild and intermittent or short-lived and other times they are drastic and can require that all dosing of the drug be stopped immediately.
Before considering Proin for your dog be sure to get well acquainted with the possible side effects and feel free to discuss them with your vet and get answers for any questions that you might have.
In order to avoid potentially devastating or even fatal side effects, be sure that you follow the dosing recommendations very careful to avoid overdosing and causing harm to your dog. Mismanaging your dog’s dosage could lead to such reactions as coma, seizures or other issues that could prove to be potentially fatal.
Risks and side effects that are associated with the use of Proin in dogs include allergic reactions such as hives and swelling of the face, lips or tongue. Fever and abnormal behaviors like unusual or excessive aggressiveness, restlessness, hyperactivity or irritability could also occur during use.
Should you note that your dog is experiencing an increase in heart rate or blood pressure or has seemed to lose their appetite and refuses to eat, contact your vet and seek emergency care. Lastly, another common side effect associated with Proin is lethargy.
Sometimes a dog’s diet can have a significant effect on urinary incontinence issues. Even if these issues are mostly due to having been spayed or neutered or to old age, a change in diet along with treatment can help to mitigate the problem.
There are also times when short-term urinary incontinence can be due to the formation of struvite crystals in the urine. This leads to the formation of bladder stones which can develop into a chronic issue if not handled and treatment immediately.
Diets that are high in protein or certain things like ash or mineral content can increase these formations and lead to acute urinary incontinence.
Switching your dog’s food out to a pure, high-quality dog food with low protein content and without mineral and ash can help clear up urinary issues for some dogs. This is possibly a good starting point for finding out whether your dog has acute urinary incontinence that can be easily treated with proper diet changes or if they are going to need meds and long-term treatment for managing symptoms.
Alternatives to Proin
For dogs that are unable to take or continue on Proin due to allergic reactions, side effects, other health issues or other meds that are already being used there are multiple other options that are available for treating urinary incontinence.
There are various herbs that are used to help strengthen the smooth muscle tissues like those in the urethral sphincter.
Natural formulas and products with various different combinations of these herbs can usually be found at natural health food stores. These herbs include raspberry leaf, marshmallow, horsetail, yarrow, uva ursi, and plantain.
Natural health food stores generally have pet health sections where you can find these remedies. You can also ask questions and discuss the effectiveness of any of the options with staff if they are available.
Another option is to book a consultation with a veterinarian and specializes in holistic medicines and alternatives or even a certified herbalist. These can help you to put together a customized formula or regiment geared specifically toward your dog and whatever needs they have.
If the primary cause of the urinary incontinence is hormone imbalance, there are herbs such as oatstraw and wild yam that contain estrogenic compounds for supplementing hormone levels in a female.
Likewise, herbs such as saw palmetto can help to support and stimulate natural hormone production in male dogs with urinary incontinence.
Certain traditional Chinese medicines are also believed by many to be highly effective for urinary incontinence issues.
Holistic veterinarians may suggest trying remedies such as Rehmannia Eight and Rehmannia Six for helping to regulate and control excessive and involuntary bladder leakage. These formulas consist primarily of Chinese foxglove along with a variety of other herbs like water plantain, peony, and yam.
There are also other remedies that are designed specifically for promoting urinary health. Remedies such as causticum and pulsatilla help to strengthen urethral sphincter muscles that have weakened with old age. Equisteum and Ferrum phosphoricum target poor bladder control that is a result of a recent urinary tract infection.
There are multiple other medications, some of which do not require a prescription from your vet, that is used for treating urinary incontinence. Some of these that can be found include HomeoPet Leaks No More and Primor.