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News Article

Study identifies risk factors for urinary incontinence in male dogs


The predominance of reports concentrating on bitches means that the population risk factors for males have not been previously well described

Male Irish red setters, boxers, bulldogs, bull mastiffs and fox terriers are more likely to develop urinary incontinence (UI) than the males of other dog breeds, according to a study published in Journal of Small Animal Practice.

Furthermore, purebred male dogs generally are 1.45 times more likely to suffer from UI compared with their crossbred counterparts, suggesting a likely genetic component to the disease.

The Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) VetCompass™ programme studied anonymised clinical data from 119 first opinion veterinary practices across England and found that one in every 100 male dogs is affected by UI. Irish red setters were found to particularly suffer, with one in 12 of them affected, and the breed is 14 times more likely to have UI than a crossbred dog.

UI was cited as the main reason or a contributing cause for being put down in 41.6% of the incontinent male dogs that were euthanised during the study. The low treatment and high mortality rate in male dogs with UI highlight the welfare importance and requirement for further research into the aetiology and treatment of this condition.

The VetCompass™ study found that older dogs are more prone to UI, with male dogs aged nine to 12 years’ old 10.46 times more likely to suffer from the problem than dogs aged under three. The researchers found no conclusive evidence to suggest that neutered dogs were more likely to develop UI.

Dr Dan O’Neill, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at the RVC and study co-author, said: “The most fascinating outcome of this study was the power to use Big Data to identify just how frequently some breeds show urinary incontinence in male dogs. One in twelve of all Irish Red Setters were affected and the breed was 14 times more likely to be affected than crossbreds. Using these types of data, we are finally lifting the lid on which diseases really impact most on dog welfare.”

Jon Hall, Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Surgery (Soft Tissue) at the University of Edinburgh and study co-author, added: “Urinary incontinence is a huge problem for dogs and people, with considerable welfare and financial impact. Until now, the vast majority of studies have focused on females since they were considered to be much more commonly affected. Whilst this remains true, a large number of male dogs presenting to general practice also show signs and we hope that by highlighting this problem by examining such large number of male dogs (which is only really possible with the VetCompass programme and the financial support provided by the generous grants provided by funding bodies), we can now better identify and recruit these patients for investigations and clinical trials to help treat this disease.”

RVC’s VetCompass™ project analyses anonymised veterinary clinical records from over 1,000 UK vet clinics. This particular study focused on an estimated 1027 UI cases from the 109,428 male dogs that attended participating clinics between September 2009 and July 2013.

Read article: Urinary incontinence in male dogs under primary veterinary care in England: prevalence and risk factors by J. L. Hall, L. Owen, A. Riddell, D. B. Church, D. C. Brodbelt and D. G. O'Neill, published in Journal of Small Animal Practice, online 1 November 2018, doi: 10.1111/jsap.12951

Article details

  • Date
  • 16 November 2018
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals