Health & Heredity Quarterly Report

by Tami Sue Huber**

Reprinted from Giant Steps Sept.-Oct. 1993 

It is finally nice to see the reports that I have been sending appear in print for the membership to read. I was beginning to wonder whether anyone was ever going to have a chance to see the information that I have provided. I haven't received any correspondence since my last report but hope that this will change now that we are getting the material out.

This report I would like to address the problem of urinary incontinence. I believe from the last H&H survey in November 1991 and from several conversations with people in different states that Giants may have a higher incidence of this problem than other breeds. The response that I received back from the last survey was underwhelming at best. I received only 28 back, but of those returned there were 7 cases of urinary incontinence reported. I can't tell whether this is coincidence since the number of surveys received back isn't statistically significant. All were in females ranging in age from 5 months to 9 years at the time of onset.

I have had phone conversations with at least 2 people concerning this issue. One had a female puppy that was 4 months old and dribbled urine constantly. She had been told by the breeder that this was NORMAL!! I assured her that it wasn't normal for dogs to passively dribble urine and referred her to her regular vet for a workup and possibly some medication to help. The other conversation concerned another young female that began dribbling urine at about 9 months old, which was approximately two months after she had been spayed. Both of these pups had been sold as pets and the people weren't happy to constantly be cleaning up urine.

In the veterinary office that I work in, we usually see urinary incontinence in older spayed females and occasionally in older neutered males. Most of our clients are frustrated and some would even consider euthanizing a dog or restricting it to outdoors exclusively rather than cleaning up urine all of the time. Most people aren't aware that there is anything that can be done to help and are happy to hear that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.

We start with a full physical exam and medical history. Urinalysis and abdominal x‑ray are frequently part of the workup. If all of the findings do not indicate a medical reason for the incontinence, the vet may try hormone or drug therapy to control the symptoms.

There are several medical findings that can cause or contribute to urinary incontinence. If bladder stones are found removal or dissolution of the stones, antibiotic thearapy and dietary management usually cure the incontinence. The stones can be detected by x‑ray and /or palpation. The x‑rays may also show narrowing spinal disc spaces which may cause pressure to the nerves which control the bladder, thus contributing to incontinence. Anti-inflammatory medication may help reduce the nerve swelling and ease the symptoms. Metabolic diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease increase water consumption and make it hard for a dog to hold the increased urine volume. This may lead owners to believe that their dog is incontinent.

If you have a dog that is incontinent, it is very important to consult with your vet to eliminate the possibility that there is something serious going on. If your vet shines it on, pursue a second opinion so that you and your dog can get on the right road to eliminating this problem.

I would like your feedback on this article. If your dog has had a special condition that has caused or contributed to incontinence and you have been able to solve the problem, please share with us so that we may all be able to gain a better understanding. Conversely, if you have had a problem that you have not been able to medically manage, please share any tips for living with the incontinent dog. I will hopefully receive enough input to do a follow‑up article.

Follow Up Health & Heredity Quarterly Report

by Tami Sue Huber**

Reprinted from Giant Steps March-April 1994

Since my last report, I have received what I consider overwhelming response to the column that I wrote on urinary incontinence. I received several letters from people who also were having incontinence problems in their Giants. One writer, a groomer and trainer for 15 years, commented that she has had many dogs (both purebred and mixes) and never had a problem with incontinence until she got into Giants. She is also quite interested in finding the link between the breed and the problem. I feel it is safe to assume that this is a PROBLEM in the breed.

One reader forwarded a flyer that was included in a puppy packet from a Giant breeder. I feel that this is second best to eliminating the problem. If we can't get rid of the problem, we must educate new owners on how to deal with this should it become a problem in their Giant. Let's all work toward a solution. Any additional tips on living with incontinent dogs are greatly encouraged.

I have been contacted by another person who requested information on autoimmune hemolytic anemia. I have since forwarded past health and heredity surveys from 1991 that might provide some information. If there are any readers who have experienced this same problem in one of their Giants, it would be very helpful if I could gather information that might help this person and dog. Anonymous information is welcome. Please include the dog's age at onset of symptoms, treatment information if possible, and the final result of the treatment as a success or failure, and if the dog needs any prolonged medication to control the disorder. If I receive enough information, I will provide a summary in a future column.

I have been contacted by GSCA President, Steve Fox. We have added an additional person to the Health & Heredity Committee. He is a doctor, although I am not quite sure in what area. We will provide a biography to the membership as soon as we can get one together.

I look forward to hearing from members on either incontinence or autoimmune hemolytic anemia. All other requests or comments will also be welcome. Please note the new home phone listed on the committee heads page. Remember, this is our breed, and the only way to protect it is to address the things that are truly a problem within the breed and our individual lines.

**Author is now Tami Stoller

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