My dog is going crazy (I think) and it's driving us crazy!
February 5, 2015 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I have an elderly beagle who has always been abnormal. Now she seems to really be going crazy for real and it's driving us a little crazy. What's the best way to handle this?

My beagle's weirdness is well documented. She is definitely not your typical beagle or dog. We're guessing her age to be at least 8, but she may be 10 or even older. Here's the new weirdness we've observed:

- Unquenchable thirst. She's technically not drinking over what's considered normal, but it's definitely at the high end of normal and it's an unusual amount for her.
- Peeing in the house. Some days she'll pee in the house even when she was just out an hour or two ago. This almost always happens out of our sight so we don't catch her in the act.
- Restless pacing at night, for an hour or so after bedtime.
- Sometimes stands in the middle of the room and just stares off into space
- Heightened anxiety (which is saying something, because she's already well medicated for anxiety.)

The peeing in the house issue has been the real source of frustration. She's been on Proin for incontinence, even though she doesn't leak. It didn't help. That pretty much rules out incontinence issues. We've had extensive lab work done plus a sterile urine culture and xrays. She is not diabetic, doesn't have Cushing's, is not hyperthyroid (though she is being treated for hypothyroid, the vet says she's not overmedicated), does not have a UTI, and has no masses or abnormalities on xrays. The only thing we've found so far is a slightly rounded liver, which according to the vet is fairly normal in dogs her age. All of her labs and other tests came back "normal". So why is she not normal?

The vet's has theorized that perhaps she is in the early stages of kidney failure and it's just not showing up on her bloodwork or xrays. We could do an ultrasound to check out her kidneys, but I hesitate to spend the money on that when literally every other test has come back 100% normal so far.

The only other theory at this point is that it's all psychological - that she has doggie dementia (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction) with psychogenic drinking. If you've had a dog with CCD, does this sound like it fits? The part that makes me unsure is that there are some days where she's totally fine. No restlessness, doesn't pee in the house, can hold it for 6+ hours, doesn't drink a lot of water. Could there be dogs with CCD that have normal days and bad days?

And perhaps more importantly, what's the best way to deal with the dog pee? It's destroying the flooring (and cabinetry) in our home. We have carpet tiles, but cleaning those daily is a tedious process and getting rid of the smell is even worse. We've pulled up most of the carpet at this point, but now she's ruining the hardwood instead. We're attempting to use pee pads, but my dog has an uncanny ability to pee anywhere BUT on the pee pads. I'm working on exploring dog walker/day care options for when we're not home, but cost, location and availability may be an issue, so I'm most interested in ways we can limit the damage when she's home alone. Doggie diapers don't seem ideal for her as she has a history of chronic UTIs. She has a crate she likes, but we've never shut her in it for more than a few hours on very rare occasions. It's usually open all the time for her to use at will while she has run of the house. Crating her all day might seem like punishment after being free to roam the house her whole life. I'm also not sure if crating her during the day will just force her to pee in her crate, which might cause other problems. We've discussed limiting her roaming area to a much smaller space somehow, but I'm not sure about the most effective and cost efficient way to make that happen. Our house has an open layout so it's tricky. A couple of those stand-alone pet gates with a carpet of pee pads is a possibility, but will that be sturdy enough to contain her? Shutting her in our windowless bathroom all day seems cruel. Is there anything else I'm not thinking of that we can try?
posted by geeky to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am only qualified to discuss confinement, but my dogs don't realize they can jump over this short freestanding gate (which I use to keep them from getting out the front door when we are coming/going/receiving packages). It's on a slippery floor and they are afraid of gates falling over and it's close to a wall, but assuming your beagle is traditionally beagle-shaped it would probably work.

If this was me (and may well be one day), I'd use that sort of confinement and put down something like a carpet-sized piece of astroturf - something non-permeable - to protect the floor. You could also use a roll of vinyl flooring or similar, there's probably several options that would give you a non-porous pee containment field.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:40 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have a friend going through this same thing right now and Prozac has helped a ton. As I understand it the drinking and weirdness are often anxiety related in older dogs.
posted by fshgrl at 10:44 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Peeing in the house, increased anxiety and pacing were definitely all signs of dementia in my parents' beloved old dog. There were better and worse days, too. There was a med that the vet prescribed that helped for quite awhile, and while I don't know what it was, your vet should know about dementia treatments.

If she doesn't mind her crate and sleeps a lot, it seems worthwhile to try crating for longer in conjunction with meds. None of my parents' dogs have minded being crated for longer stretches.
posted by ldthomps at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ziptie a freestanding pet pen around the open end of her crate, with pee pads in the pen area. That way she's got a pee-free space to sleep and her pee is contained in a manageable area for you while you figure out what's going on with her health.
posted by jamaro at 10:45 AM on February 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: A couple of quick things -

Jumping over gating is definitely not a concern. As Lyn Never so tactfully put it, she is "traditionally beagle-shaped" (aka, porky) and also struggles to jump on the couch these days. There's no way she'll be leaping over anything.

She is already well medicated for anxiety on Trazadone (see previous linked questions, Prozac does not work for her) and this is definitely outside of her "normal" anxiety behavior. It is my understanding that the common CCD drug, Anipryl, cannot be given while she's on Trazadone, so I'm not sure that's a feasible option for us. We will discuss it with the vet though.

And thanks so far :)
posted by geeky at 11:02 AM on February 5, 2015

Best answer: what's the best way to deal with the dog pee?

Enzyme/bacterial cleaners like Nature's Miracle or Anti-Icky-Poo, and frequentish shampooings. Carpet is easier to replace than hardwood. Be sure to follow the directions for the cleaners; you use more than you'd expect.

When we have puppies, they live in a pen with a sheet of vinyl flooring remnant underneath and a layer of cheap-ass towels on top of that, and we put in a pee-pad-thing where you put a normal pee pad on the bottom and turf on top of that. You could do something similar with an ex-pen in whatever room she likes best.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:18 AM on February 5, 2015

Carpet is easier to replace than hardwood.

But beware the urine can soak through the carpet and pad and make it down to the level of hardwood. If you have a nice floor underneath you may want to take extra steps to protect it, and even if you don't the urine smell can be next to impossible to remove from wood floors so you'll want to keep it from getting down to that level if possible.

As for your symptoms, they sounds very similar to my cat's symptoms and behaviors in the late stages of kidney disease, for what it's worth. Best of luck.
posted by JenMarie at 11:46 AM on February 5, 2015

As another line of attack - has she been treated for parasites recently?

My always-reliable 4-year-old dog started peeing in the house while we were at work and was extra-anxious. We got her checked for UTI, etc, and she came back with clean urine and negative for everything. It was out of her norm far enough that we didn't think it was a behavioral issue. She was also showing exaggerated thirst.

We ran a course of Panacur through both dogs and her potty mishaps stopped; plus, our other dog stopped scooting, which she'd been doing once a week. My understanding is that deworming meds are pretty much side-effect free, but you probably want to check with your vet.
posted by bookdragoness at 11:51 AM on February 5, 2015

Tinkle Trousers will work. Take a look at the website and see the cuties that wear these. I meMailed you about these.
posted by shaarog at 1:29 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

My dog had excessive drinking, peeing in the house, and restlessness. It was a UTI and she was back to her normal self after a course of antibiotics.

Uh, just read the rest of your Q, where you seem sure it's not a UTI. Have you tried antibiotics, anyway?

Another anecdote: My dog was on a green lipped mussel extract for joint health which seemed to contribute to weird piddle problems. Vet said they'd read a recent report linking the GLME to kidney problems. If you are using any supplements perhaps something to consider.
posted by mymbleth at 2:10 PM on February 5, 2015

Best answer: If it is dementia, Cholodin is a food supplement that often helps a lot. The feline version really helped my aging cat sleep at night, instead of being restless and keeping us awake. Many pets like the taste of it and will just eat it like a treat!
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:27 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: These are all symptoms of our old Jack Russell's dementia. Especially the staring at walls and restlessness at night. She would have an occasional bad day mixed in, and then the bad days increased gradually until every day was a bad day. I'm sorry.
posted by raisingsand at 4:52 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. The confirmations that there are good and bad days with doggie dementia help a lot.

It's definitely not a UTI. The sterile culture involves sampling urine directly from the bladder and culturing it, and it came back negative. We've gone through absurd amounts of Nature's Miracle and have determined we're not fans. Yes, we're using it properly. (FWIW, we've been using OderMute lately and are pretty happy with it). Yes, technically carpet is easier to replace than hardwood - we've completely replaced ours once already. But it's certainly not cheap, and as I mentioned, the daily (sometimes 2 or 3 times daily) carpet cleaning is getting tedious and too time consuming. We need an alternative way of dealing with this. There's already damage done to the hardwood too, so it's really kind of a moot point. All the flooring will have to be replaced eventually. Sigh.

The worms are kind of an interesting possibility. She used to take Interceptor which treated for all kinds of worms, but it was discontinued several years ago. It seems unlikely, but I might mention that idea to the vet and see what they think. We'll inquire about the Cholodin too.

I think some kind of gating and and some sort of absorbent flooring is probably our best option for now.
posted by geeky at 7:38 AM on February 6, 2015

Response by poster: An update for anyone else dealing with doggie dementia: we've determined dementia *is* causing my beagle's issues. She's been showing more and more signs of dementia. We got her a 4 foot x 4 foot pen, set it up with a bed in it and covered the floor space with pee pads. It worked! Since we started using this set up and penning her while we're away from home, she very rarely pees in the house any more. Fortunately the psychogenic drinking seems to have diminished on its own. She does still continue to show other signs of dementia though, including increased anxiety, confusion, "sundowning" (restlessness at night), and changes in sleep/wake cycles. The pen also comes in handy for when she can't seem to settle at night. Once we put her in the pen, she settles quickly and goes to sleep. So far her decline seems fairly gradual and she still seems to have more good days than bad, for which I am thankful.
posted by geeky at 8:17 AM on August 23, 2015

« Older Medical expenses deduction question   |   Wordpress/GoDaddy woes Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.