It’s time for the next instalment of our ‘Ask the Vet’ series! In this round, our expert in-house vet, Dr Jayne Laycock BVetMed MRCVS, answers your questions on canine scratching and itching, what causes a dog’s joints to pop and click, the potential causes of incontinence in adult dogs, and more. Let’s get started…
“What are some of the potential causes of incontinence in adult dogs?”
There are many reasons a dog might experience incontinence.
The first (quite common) set of causes are connected to behavioural factors. If a dog doesn’t know where it’s appropriate for them to toilet, for example, or if they get over-excited, they may urinate inappropriately.
A weakness in the muscles in the urethra (the tube from the bladder to the outside) can also cause incontinence. While this is most commonly seen in female dogs that have been neutered, other issues with urinary tract muscle tone can also cause incontinence.
Inflammation or pain in the urinary tract can also cause incontinence, and may occur due to bacterial infections and stone, or crystal, formation.
Too much urine being produced can also result in leaking and incontinence. Several medical conditions can contribute to this, including diabetes, Cushing’s Syndrome, and kidney disease. These are also usually accompanied by an increase in thirst (but this might not always be as noticeable).
There are other causes of incontinence, too. If you have noticed any incontinence, increased urination, or thirst from your pet, we always recommend seeing your vet. Take a fresh urine sample with you if possible.
“Why is my dog scratching and itching?”
It’s useful to remember that occasional itching and scratching is normal for dogs. They can get small irritations, just like us! Your vet will be able to advise further on whether your pet’s level of itching is a cause for concern.
There are two main reasons why we see increased, and uncomfortable, itching and scratching in our pets.
Firstly, infections. Parasitic infections are common in our domestic pets (think fleas, ticks, and mites), but also bacterial or fungal infections of the skin can be very itchy and uncomfortable.
Secondly, we see allergies in dogs. Dogs can suffer from both food and environmental allergies, which can both present as skin irritation and itching. Sadly, these can be hard to diagnose and control.
There are also other, less common, causes of itching such as specific skin issues.
“Why do my dog’s joints pop and click?”
Some occasional noise from your pet’s joints can be normal, but some noises can also have an abnormal cause. We would recommend seeing your vet to be on the safe side.
One of the most common reasons for ‘clicking’ can be a luxating patella (or wobbly kneecap). The movement of the kneecap can make a noise, as well as causing irritation and movement issues. Hip dysplasia can also be heard as clicking, if there is any abnormal movement of the ball and socket joint.
At the same time, something as simple as your dog’s claws being a bit long may also cause a ‘clicking’ sound – so it’s not always cause for concern.
“Why do dogs scratch and scoot their bums along the floor?”
Often, scooting is due to anal gland irritation. Dogs have two scent glands by their anus, which can overfill and cause discomfort. One of the ways dogs can try to address this is by scooting and rubbing their rear end.
Any another irritation around the rear, tail, or anus (such as infections, parasites, and injuries) could also cause your dog to scoot or scratch around that area.
Some dogs may engage in this behaviour without there being any obvious cause for concern, but it’s sensible to check with your vet if your dog does engage in any of these behaviours.