Older Pet Health – Incontinence and Weight Loss

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

The first question comes from Amy. She asks, “Is there anything that can be done for older dogs that start having accidents during the night? We’ve been letting our dog sleep with us for 11 years and now we keep waking up to accidents. We’re unaware that she needs to be let out because she’s doing this in her sleep.”

This is a great question and there are some things that you can do. There are three things that come to mind that can cause this. First is that older dogs, especially females, can start to lose some of the tone in their urethra. This can cause them, without knowing it, to void their urine while they’re sleeping. There are some drugs that can be taken to help treat and prevent this but you would need to see your veterinarian for it.

In addition to that, urinary tract infections and some things that can sometimes make older dogs drink more water and therefore have more urine in their bladder can possibly cause this. I would say a great place to start would be to take your older pet to the veterinarian, have them look at a urine sample, and they can help you go from there.

The next question comes from Cindy. She says, “What do I do when my older cat is slowly losing weight for no known reason? How much does she have to lose before I get concerned about things like fatty liver? In her case, they ran blood tests and everything was fine. Changing her food is difficult as she free-feeds dry food and the other cat is overweight. Neither cat likes canned food.”

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This is really common in old cats. They tend to start to lose some weight. Generally, it’s related to an underlying problem. I can’t comment on the blood work that was done beforehand, but make sure that your older cat is tested for thyroid disease and that a really good screening panel is done.

In older cats, there are three things that come to mind for me as specific diseases that can cause weight loss; an overactive thyroid, diabetes, and kidney disease, although there are other things that can do this, too. Make sure that the blood work that they’re running screens for these diseases. If you’re still unhappy, you can consider going to another veterinarian and getting another opinion, or you can go back to your veterinarian and tell them that your pet is still losing weight and see what tests can be done to make sure they recognize any underlying cause.

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