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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18168
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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my dog , Meg a 14.5yr old Golden Retriever has been having

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my dog , Meg a 14.5yr old Golden Retriever has been having problems holding in faeces when she walks , she has bad cataracts an hips an regulary falls because of her hips , im dreading going to the vets with her, is it time for me to lose her ???
Hello, I am very sorry to hear about Meg's fecal incontinence, cataracts, weakness in the rear and bad hips.
There are a few things that may be causing her fecal incontinence.
The first would be spinal arthritis which can cause inflammation of the spinal nerves that control urine and stool continence. These dogs have obvious spinal arthritis on radiographs and are painful upon examination. They may respond to anti-inflammatories (steroids or nonsteroidals like Deramaxx or Rimadyl), pain medications like Tramadol as well as omega 3's and glucosamine/chondroitin supplements like Dasuquin or Cosequin DS. I know that she is already taking Metacam but you might discuss trying a different anti-inflammatory with your veterinarian to see if it is more helpful.
The second condition that could cause incontinence would be a degenerative myelopathy. This is a degenerative condition affecting the nerves of the spinal cord, it starts in the back legs and ascends eventually affecting nerves to the bladder and rectum which leads to loss of continence. These dogs aren't painful. They are incoordinated in the rear because they have lost the ability to feel where their rear legs are and place them properly. They become incontinent because they can not feel the stool building up and because their anal sphincter becomes loose. Unfortunately we do not have any good therapies for this condition. Radiographs look normal and diagnosis is by an MRI of the spinal nerves.
The other disease process would be lumbosacral stenosis and instability. This is an instability between the sacrum (pelvis) and the lumbar spine. It leads to inflammation and scar tissue and places pressure on the spinal cord leading to loss of function in his rear legs and stool and urine incontinence. These dogs are painful and should respond at least somewhat to steroids or anti-inflammatories. Diagnosis is by an MRI of the area. Treatment is surgery but once fecal and urine incontinence occur we cannot always reverse the damage done to nerves. Definitely worth trying though.
Unusual causes can also be a spinal cord tumor or a mass of the vertebrae or supporting tissues.
A bacterial infection of the bones of the spine that spreads from a urinary tract infection or a puncture wound is another possibilty, but those dogs are running a fever and are extremely painful and feel horrible.
In order to help Meg we really need to know why she is the way she is. I know that you are dreading a veterinary examination because you are worried about what they may find and that they may recommend euthanasia, but it is the only way to figure out what is going on with her and see if we can help her further.
An examination and radiographs of her spine are a great place to start.
At that point your veterinarian can prescribe a higher dose of or a different anti-inflammatory and pain medication if needed.
In the meantime it may help to increase the amount of fiber in her food to help her feel and be more aware of her stools. You can add 2 to 3 tablespoons of canned pumpkin or Metamucil to her meals to increase fiber. Make sure to get her outdoors frequently to pass stools as well so her colon is less likely to overfill causing stools to just drop out.
It may also help to add an omega 3 fatty acid (like 3V Caps or Derm Caps) to the glucosamine/chondroitin product (examples are Dasuquin or Cosequin) that you are using. These work synergistically and improve cartilage health and joint fluid quality and quantity as well as reducing inflammation. They can take several weeks to see full improvement but some dogs do very well with them added. They are available over the counter.
Another option is a product called Duralactin. This is an anti-inflammatory product derived from milk proteins and it also has omega 3 fatty acids incorporated into it which can be very helpful. See this link for further information:
Other alternative therapies such as cold laser, acupuncture or chiropractic may be of help as well if her problem is arthritis related.
If we cannot get her comfortable no matter what we do, or help her with her incontinence then you may need to consider humane euthanasia, but I wouldn't give up on her yet until we know why she is the way she is and seeing if we can help her.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
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