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Connor & Katie March 6th, 2014 04:33 PM

14 year old lab having trouble controlling bowel movements
My 14 year old lab Connor is showing signs of his age- he sleeps a lot more, he's mostly deaf, his sight is starting to decline (but he's nowhere near blind), he's got weakness in his hips, he's lost some muscle tone, but he still loves attention, loves to hang out in the yard with us, loves to eat, etc. So I feel like he's mostly in decent shape for a 14 year old lab.

My one concern is his bowel movements. Over the last year he has progressively seemed to lose more and more of his house training skills. Sometimes he's obviously trying to make it to the door and just doesn't get there in time, other times it seems like he poops in his sleep, and sometimes, we let him outside, he does a lap around the yard just sniffing and walking around, comes inside and 5 minutes later, poops on the floor. He's also had issues with loose stools a few times over the last year, which seems to make control harder for him.

He's been to 3 different vets at least 5 times (maybe 6) in the last year. None of them have found anything wrong with him at all. Fecal samples are negative, blood work is all normal (including "senior blood panel"). He's had a couple of anti-diarrheal meds & herbs to help with the loose stools, they all seem to help a bit when he gets loose stools, but not with the control issue.

After some reading & research, I'm concerned that he may be having some cognitive dysfunction. In his prime, he NEVER had accidents in the house. He wakes up every night and goes outside, but often doesn't "go" while out there. Sometimes at night after going outside, he will go into the wrong room and walk around, like he's confused (but only in the middle of the night).

I guess I'm mostly just wondering if anyone has had a dog with cognitive dysfunction and if there's anything you can do to help them? Or if anyone's had a dog with similar issues.



Longblades March 7th, 2014 06:30 AM

You don't mention any Xrays to check for IVDD or Spondylosis in his back which could cause neurological damage impacting his ability to feel or control his bowels. My Lab girl had both and had fecal incontinence. Truthfully though, we cannot be sure if it was the neuro. damage or the pain meds that caused her incontinence.

Some of what you describe does sound like cognitive dysfunction.

Good luck. At least with fecal incontinence the poopers are easy to just pick up and put outside. One thing that did help our girl a bit was a high fibre food that bulked up her stools so she could feel them coming on sooner and ask to go outside in time. Ask your Vet. Imodium would do the same thing and is safe for Labs but ask your Vet. Good luck.

Dog Dancer March 13th, 2014 12:17 PM

Sorry I just saw this thread. I hope your pup has perked up some since you posted. My senior Akita cross at 14 had arthritis and once it hit her spine she had fecal incontinence. She also would wander around sort of lost at times, and I do believe it's just doggy old age. My 13 and a half year old lab now was looking for me the other night after going out for a pee, I finally had to go find her and bring her back to bed - poor thing. Anyhow, our fecal incontinence issue was a result of arthritis blocking the messages to her brain that she had to go. For us that was one of the final signs that our beloved girl's body was not her own anymore (she was no longer responding to pain meds for the arthritis and had trouble standing and walking) and we had her put to sleep shortly thereafter. Please know it was not because she was pooping in the house, I would have cleaned her poop forever, like I said, it was just one of many signs that her body was not working for her. Much like your pup, she had never messed in the house and when she did in her old age you could see it in her face that she was horrified. Bless her soul I do miss my old girl. Good luck to you with your pup.

MaxaLisa March 15th, 2014 05:48 PM

You might try some cholodin? Some dogs have reported benefits for the cognitive dysfunction, but I think the fecal incontinence is what DD and LB said, very often a spinal issue.

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