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News Article

Incontinence in bitches: high-risk breeds identified


High-risk breeds include the Irish setter, Dobermann, bearded collie, rough collie and Dalmatian.

A VetCompass epidemiological study involving over 100,000 bitches from veterinary clinics across England has highlighted certain breeds that are hugely predisposed to urinary incontinence. The study is published in Journal of Small Animal Practice.

The Veterinary Companion Animal Surveillance System (VetCompass) is an international initiative focused on improving companion animal health. The not-for-profit research project is coordinated at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and works with hundreds of veterinary practices to gather anonymised clinical data.

In a population of 100,397 bitches attending 119 veterinary clinics in England, the overall proportion of bitches recorded of having urinary incontinence was 3.14%.

Compared with crossbred dogs, the pure-breds dogs with the highest odds ratios (OR) for urinary incontinence were the Irish Setter (OR 8.09), Dobermann (OR 7.98), Bull Mastiff (OR 6.24), Rough Collie (OR 3.75), Dalmatian (OR 3.26) and Boxer (OR 3.03). Bitches weighing above average for their breed had 1.31 times the odds of urinary incontinence compared with bitches weighing below average. Older bitches were also predisposed. Neutered bitches had 2.23 times the odds compared with entire bitches.

The study also gave evidence on the welfare impact from urinary incontinence, with 45.6% of cases receiving medical therapy for the condition. In addition, of the bitches that died during the study period, urinary incontinence was recorded as either contributory or the main reason for death in 16.7% of deaths.

RVC veterinary epidemiologist and VetCompass researcher Dan O’Neill commented, “This urinary incontinence study has uncovered dramatic breed predispositions that have previously been hidden to vets and owners. Overall, about 3% of bitches were affected but this rose to over 30% in the Irish setter and over 20% in the Dobermann with many other breeds also predisposed. Vets can now use these results to alert owners to typical clinical signs in order to ensure earlier treatment. The study also suggests increased risk in heavier and neutered bitches. In consequence, we now have a VetCompass Masters project supported by BSAVA PetSavers working to unravel these associations in order to identify potential preventive strategies, especially in those highly predisposed breeds.”

Article: Urinary incontinence in bitches under primary veterinary care in England: prevalence and risk factors by D. G. O'Neill, A. Riddell, D. B. Church, L. Owen, D. C. Brodbelt and J. L. Hall, published in Journal of Small Animal Practice, online 7 September 2017, doi: 10.1111/jsap.12731

Article details

  • Date
  • 19 September 2017
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals