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A Sad Epidemic for Dogs & a Happy Cure
June 26, 2022 at 4:34 p.m.
A Sad Epidemic for Dogs & a Happy Cure
Aladar is a wonderful dog who has been healthy and delightful for all his almost 15 years—quite an achievement for a large dog. We have felt we earned this with our years of answering the phone "Animal Hospital" while caring for various pets with cancer, thyroid disease, liver disease, and diabetes. Until just recently, we were convinced our good karma had come to roost.
What happened to unsettle this happy situation is that part of canine aging often includes fecal incontinence—which usually is accompanied by weakness in the back legs.
Over the course of the last year, we've seen our perfectly trained and obedient dog have a few “accidents" that became, a couple of weeks ago, daily accidents—and by that, I mean once in 24 hours—often during the night.
We tried everything including numerous pre-bed chances outdoors, no food after his last feeding at 3 pm, and anything else that came to our sleep deprived minds.
Finally—rather than put him to sleep, I rigged up the covered back deck with a comfy couch, lights, a radio, and dog toys. Then, I slept out there with Aladar...even though he wasn't insisting on it. But, hey, he's been in our bedroom for years, and we well know that dogs do best with their "pack"—us—and feel punished when excluded from the family sleeping area.
After one night of that, we again made an appointment for euthanasia but had a chat with the vet first. He said there was no cure for old age fecal incontinence, but that extra fiber might help OR a low residue/high digestibility diet might help.
We had a few days till the appointment so we got the fiber and...wow, that did not work for our dog at all. Feeling dejected, it took me another day or so to even look up the low residue/digestible diet.
I found one that was home cooked so I didn't even have to go buy more dog food for a pet I was about to euthanize. The diet includes 50 to 60 percent protein (beef, chicken, lamb, eggs—gentle stuff, no dairy) and brown rice, pasta, or oatmeal, everything cooked including some low fiber vegetables like potatoes (no skins), green beans, carrots, summer squash, and zucchini, bananas or cantaloupe if your dog likes those. Some olive oil was also recommended.
And here it is...the amazing punchline...ONE MEAL like that and Aladar's poops began to go back to normal in appearance. There were no more accidents in the house—yes, we still make sure to give him plenty of outside time after eating and until he goes, but he has even returned to being able to make it to his old potty place at the far side of the yard.
The low residue, highly digestible diet means our healthy dog doesn't have to be put to sleep because of uncontrolled fecal incontinence that was making our lives too hard.
As I share this story, I hear over and over again that this has happened to most people who have dogs, or to pet owners they know.
Please share this information. We know that some dogs might do better with high fiber, but for us it was the low fiber, high digestible foods that have worked like a charm. Either way, a change in diet is not much to do for a dog that is still healthy. It's an aging issue most of us in our "third age" can appreciate!
Ariele Huff, a Seattle girl from birth to 69, now an Aberdeen “girl.” She has written Writing Corner and collected poems for Poetry Corner for Northwest Prime Time for the last 22 years, as well as gathering stories to be shared in this website segment. If you have a good story to share, please connect with Ariele at firstname.lastname@example.org..
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