Q: Sheila is a 15-year-old cross breed dog that we adopted from young. She has been unable to control her bladder, and urinates indoors, even when she's sleeping. Although medication from our vet helped, there are still occasional accidents. Can traditional Chinese medicine benefit her?
A: There are a few reasons that Sheila may be urinating in the house. It is important to determine the underlying cause which could include an infection of the urinary tract, excessive consumption of water, a weak bladder sphincter and a spinal cord disease. Your veterinarian can help with these investigations concurrently.
In traditional Chinese medicine, urinary incontinence is seen with Kidney Qi Deficiency. Ageing, prolonged illness and a weak constitution can all lead to this. Like humans, dogs are born with a certain amount of kidney essence inherited from their parents and this can be easily depleted but difficult to be replaced. Ageing is a common reason for diminishing kidney essence. However, it can be enhanced from the nutrition derived from good quality food and it can also be conserved from avoiding excessive stress, dehydration or chronic diseases.
Other signs of Kidney Qi Deficiency include a weak back, weak knees, lethargy and deafness; and you may already notice these symptoms in Sheila. You can start to improve her kidney essence by offering her Qi tonics by mixing it with the food she receives daily. Qi tonics include beef, chicken, dates, lentils, mackerel, oats, potato, rice, sweet potato, squash, tofu, trout and yam.
Do consult a veterinarian before introducing these food types to avoid any adverse reactions such as vomiting or diarrhoea. An assessment by a qualified veterinary acupuncturist can determine her tongue and pulse quality and he or she can also design a treatment plan for Sheila involving both acupuncture treatment and herbal therapy to help nourish her Kidney Qi.