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Pastern Problems and Submissive Urination in Dogs

Posted on: August 19th, 2011 by

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question comes from Kimberly. She writes “What recommendations would you have to correct a puppy who is down in his pastures? What supplements are beneficial?”

I think you actually mean ‘pasterns’. ‘Down in the pasterns’ is a term for a flat-footed, hyperextension of the joint. It’s common in larger breed puppies and it typically results from the bones, the tendons and the ligaments growing at different rates.

It used to be thought back in the old days that we would supplement calcium and limit exercise in these guys. We actually found that that’s wrong. Calcium supplementation in large breed growing dogs can be dangerous. We definitely don’t recommend that you do that. It’s actually thought that letting these guys get extra exercise on sure footing – grass, carpeting and that kind of thing – can really be beneficial for them.

If you do have a large breed puppy, it may benefit from a large breed puppy food, something that’s a little bit more energy-restricted. Most puppies will outgrow it usually within about two to four weeks. If it’s quite serious, I would recommend that you see your veterinarian.

The last question comes from May who says “My dog has an issue with submissive urination. When we arrive home we have to completely ignore her or she’ll get so excited she’ll accidentally pee. The same thing happens when strangers come over. She’s four years old. Is she ever going to outgrow this?”

This is really common in puppies, like little kids that get really excited, and puppies commonly outgrow it. If you have an adult dog that’s doing this, there is a possibility that it’s because of her nature and because of her being slightly anxious about this, it may not be something she outgrows.

I think your idea about completely ignoring her until the excitement of you coming home subsides is a great idea. If you can get strangers or people coming over to your house on-board with that, too, and let them to know to just ignore her for five or ten minutes until everything settles down, in that way you can avoid it.

Try not to discipline dogs that are submissively urinating. They typically don’t really know that they’re doing it and it can make the problem worse because it usually stems from anxiety.
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