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Dear Dr. Fox: Our dog, Ellie, is an 11-year-old English setter rescue who we have had for about three years. About six months ago, she began to have fecal incontinence.
We have a doggy door and she goes in and out many times a day, but she seems to have no awareness that she is defecating. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed as having arthritis of the spine.
Our vet said there isn’t much that can be done for the incontinence but said we could try giving her Proin (used for urinary incontinence) to see if it would help at all. This seemed to offer no relief, so we discontinued it. We have been giving her Pepto Bismol to make the stools firmer and easier to pick up, but that seems to not work any more.
Do you have any other suggestions? Other than this problem, she is an active, happy girl. She survived a double mastectomy two years ago.
— J.C., Florissant, Mo.
Dear J.C.: Old dogs have this condition quite frequently, and it takes some patience and forbearance to be on the alert to get the dog outdoors in anticipation of the next evacuation.
Keeping the stools firm for easier indoor pick-up is best accomplished with 1 teaspoon of soaked psyllium husks (not the seeds) per 40 pounds of body weight every day, mixed in with the dog’s regular food.
Regular massage along the back and around the abdomen also may be helpful.
There are disposable doggy diapers that may make life easier for you and be quite comfortable for your old dog to wear.
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