A 15 year old girl with weakening back legs and bowel incontinence... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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A 15 year old girl with weakening back legs and bowel incontinence...

My girl, Maggie, is 15 years and 10 months old (I feel that, at this age, every day should be counted!), and has been in overall great shape all her life. But, it seems like her age is finally catching up to her. A little over two years ago she started to lose a good amount of her hearing. She can still hear if you yell to (at) her or whistle loudly, but won't hear a thing if you speak at a regular volume. That was not too big a deal and was easy for both of us to adjust too. But, over the last year and a half she started to have bowel accidents in the house and there were clear signs her rear end was getting weaker. What started as an accident every few days has progressed to at least one accident almost every day. Occasionally we'll get a couple days without one, but that's now the exception, not the norm. Many times, she'll have an accident while lying down, without even realizing it. She has been to the vet, but there was nothing specific diagnosed. It seems she is simply getting old and losing muscle mass in her back and hind end and just losing control of her bowels. There has also been a noticeable loss of strength in her back legs over the last 6 months. It's been a slow decline overt he last couple years, but it's seemed to speed up considerably lately. We have mostly hard wood floors, so I've done what I can to help with a few throw rugs and some grippy booties, which look pretty silly, but do help.

So, I guess my question for all of you is - given what I've described, do you have any thoughts / suggestions on ways I can help her with these issues? The accidents in the house are really starting to wear on my wife and me. It's heartbreaking to see her going through this. I think the hardest part is that she is all there mentally and does not appear to be in any pain. So, I can't and won't even entertain the idea of putting her down at this point - although I know that decision will be coming sooner rather than later. She has given us a great 13 1/2 years (since we adopted her), and I'll do everything I can to take care of her until the end.
We have tried a few different supplements, without any real success. Right now, all she is taking is glucosamine pills that he has taken since she was 4 years old. No other medications at all.

I do realize I am just trying to fight father time, but you seem like a very knowledgeable group, and I'm hoping you have some advice for someone dealing with their first senior dog. Thank you all in advance.

Ps. Everyone loves pictures, so here is one of Maggie and me.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 04:19 PM
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Wow, sounds like Maggie has a wonderful home, with caring loving parents who truly want the best for her! I am sorry, I have no advice, but just cherish every day you have with Maggie. Lovely picture

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 04:25 PM
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My dog has urinary incontinence, which is not "quite" bowels, but similar IMO. The vet prescribed Stilboestrol. I give her half a tablet (tablets are 1mg) every two-three weeks, after an initial one tablet per day for a week "booster period." This completely eliminated the problem, and meds are quite cheap. Ask your/other vet(s) about this.

Last edited by yuriy; 10-09-2015 at 04:29 PM.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 04:31 PM
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Maggie is absolutely gorgeous!! You both look so happy in that pic.
You and your wife are so fortunate to have had her for such a long time.
Her long life is certainly a testament to the great love and care that she has known as a member of your family.

I understand how you are feeling right now.
We adopted our GSD Jake when he was about 2 and we were lucky to have him for 11 years.
He has been on my mind all day today. I even wrote about him in a couple of previous threads. Now here I am doing it again.

All I can say is that I know your sadness and I understand.
And one more thing, I don't think I've ever seen a prettier GSD.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 04:31 PM
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She's beautiful and looks youthful. What about dog diapers?
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-09-2015, 09:21 PM
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Lucky is 13 and has really weak back legs a lot of issues with his spine . He cant feel when he has to go till he starts. We watch for his tail to start lifting and rush to get him out. We keep on non carpeted surfaces if possible and he needs out by 7:30 am every morning. we also try to feed by like 6:00PM every night. Still has accidents but it seems to happen now that he has the weakened rear area.

Maggie is beautiful and I truly understand fighting time.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-10-2015, 10:17 PM
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Maggie is such pretty old girl, she looks great for her age. She's just a little older than my senior GSD Shasta who is 15 years 8 months old. I've been having similar issues with Shasta, the weak hind end, and more frequent accidents in the house. I recently put in a dog door and ramp for her so she can get outside to do her business anytime during the day. It has definitely prevented a bunch of accidents already. The dog door may also help you especially if Maggie is alone at all during the day. The hardwood floors are rough on them, I've got a bunch of cheap area rugs everywhere too, the bigger they are, the less chance she slips and can't get up. I've also noticed that most of the time when Shasta has an accident in the house, it's usually because of a change in her routine. If she eats at the same time every day, then usually she will have to use the bathroom at the same times also, pay attention to those times and try not to let her back in until she's done her business. It's hard watching them go downhill but we are very lucky to have our dogs live so long.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 09:19 AM
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Our Shane is 14 and occasionally has accidents in the house. Because of his kidney issues, he needs water available throughout the day...we do pull it at around 9 when we know he will be in bed @10ish...we let him out around 4 (someone in the house is up) and I'm a night owl so if his water is out after 10p, I take him for a walk around 11 or 12. If your beautiful girl (which she is!!) has no issue with water availability at night, you may want to restrict or monitor water consumption throughout the day. She really is lovely :-)

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-11-2015, 09:54 AM
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She is stunning, really. What a lucky family.. for her to have you both to love her and for you both to have her loyalty and love as well.

Have you thought about doggy diapers? and maybe a rear harness if her rear end is giving out?

Also, my parents use Proin 75 for their 13 year old for her incontinence. Ask the vet about it, as I'm not sure if it can help with bowel incontinence.

Cherish the time with her.. sending some snuggles, her way!

v/r,

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-12-2015, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the comments and suggestions.

In response to some posts:

We did actually try the Estrogen pills last December, with good initial results. She went 2-3 weeks without any accidents in the house. Then, my family went on vacation for a week, and when we got back, the accidents started again. A few months later I even tried restarting the pills with the "booster period" and then the weekly pill with almost no noticeable results.

Regarding a doggy door... That's not an option for us. I can't install one in a glass slider that leads to the yard.

To Daisy&Luck'ysMom - it's the same with Maggie. She doesn't know she has to go until she's starting to. I watch for the tail lifting to, and then try to race to the back door. Also, many times I'll find a trail of poop leading to the back door. She's trying to get there, but just can't make it.

Also, we've spoken to the vet about any possible medications (Estrogen, Proin, etc.), but it seems they are all for urinary incontinence. There just isn't much available to help with fecal incontinence. I suppose the doggy diapers would help, but I think it might just be easier to clean it off of the floor!
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