tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   21 December, 2009  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig & rabbits.

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures


Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Dec 21, 2009

Morning sunlight 10 am. Bougainvillea flowers close up. Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets.During the last 2 days, I had 3 cases of "a mum and 2 daughters" team consulting me in the Surgery. The daughters were older than 10 years old and would be appreciate seeing the veterinarian and understanding canine behaviour and mum's behaviour.

Things sometimes happen in threes if one looks for a pattern.  I notice that bougainvillea flowers grow in clusters of three too. Previously I did not bother to look at the common bougainvillea plants have clusters of 3 flowers as most pictures of this plant don't show them having clusters of 3 flowers. 

The first case was that of a fair-looking mum in a designer black dress with designer buttons. She looked like a "tai tai". A "tai tai" refers to a lady who is well groomed and all dressed up and does not worry about money - that is one possible interpretation of the Chinese lady of substance.

She had just purchased a Maltese puppy for her two daughters and asked me why it had light brownish ears and to examine the puppy after purchase.

The second case was a mum who came for a review of the itchy 10-year-old Shih Tzu who had recovered from skin and ear
problems after one month of treatment. However the Shih Tzu had 7 breast tumours and she would refer the problem to the older daughter now working as she was tired of having to care for the dog since the daughters were busy with their schoolwork.

"Its not correct," the teenaged daughter retorted. "I do bathe the dog during weekends."

I said, "If you don't ask and teach the children to take care of the puppy's grooming regularly, they just don't do it. So, it is the parent's responsibility and fault. The work falls on the mum."  Probably the mum was too busy, resulting in the old dog getting itchy ears and skin and costing some money to see the veterinarian. The mum was not angry with my lack of bedside manners and I ought to clam up by not giving such comments.    

So much for the 2 cases. My 3rd case which may be of interest to owners of male dogs and is recorded below while details are still fresh in my mind.
Research Case: 18835
Miniature Poodle, Male, Born: May 2006. Now 3 years old.
Mum and 2 daughters, 14 and 11 years old.

On Jan 11, 2008, I removed the normal right testicle and the left undescended left testicle. I had advised removal of the undescended testicle in case it became cancerous in later years. Now, I was seeing the dog for his annual vaccination. There was some good news from the mum whose 2 daughters accompanied her to the vet.

The success story was that the male dog has no urine-marking behaviour after neutering. Urine-marking stopped 2 months after neutering. How did the mother do it? I needed her feedback to help other owners.

Apparently, the mum had adopted my advice to neutralise the urine smell of the floor and wall using white vinegar with water at 1 part of vinegar to 3 parts of water where the dog used to urine-mark at home.
"How did you apply the solution?" I asked.

"I sprayed the mixture from a spray bottle  wherever he urinated," she was really pleased that this problem was resolved. Not all dogs stop urine marking after neutering at more than one years of age.  However those dogs who urine-marked outside the home after neutering would not pose so much house-cleaning problems for the caregivers.
Problem of "Submissive Urination".

"But my dog is still peeing all over the floor," mum complained. "I have to mop the floor every day!" If you take this statement on its face value, neutering had not stopped urine-marking. However, the mum had said that the urine-marking behaviour was eliminated. So why would the dog still pee on the floor?  This is where a knowledge of canine behaviour is useful for the vet.

"This is a case of submissive or excitation urination," I knew what problem she had encountered. "Do you greet the dog with a loud voice?"

 "The dog pees when in the morning on waking when the family says "HELLO" and when the family members say "HELLO" on going home from work or school. The wife works too.

"I thought the dog was being friendly." mum replied while the daughters laughed. 

"No," I said. "He was being submissive and is like a person - wetting his pants!"

So the poor mum had to mop the urine off the floor every day. In the morning and on coming home.

"Did he pee when your friends come to visit?" I asked.
"No," the family members confirmed.

"Did your friends greet him with a loud HELLO?" I asked.
"No," mum said. "I thought his peeing was him being friendly."

Advices to family members: No "HELLO" or verbal greeting of the dog by family members on going home or in the early morning. Ignore the dog for the next few months. Let the dog gain confidence over time so that he will not pee to be "friendly" to owners as there is a lot of urine mopping up to do by the mum.

I will follow up on this advice in later months. This is a case of submissive or excitation
urination and is a very difficult problem to resolve. It will take time to do it but if the owner persevere in adopting my advices, there may be some hope of relief for the mum. 

This case also reflects a fact of life. Solving the problems, that is performance and results count in real life whether it is veterinary or getting promotions from the boss. Since I had resolved the urine-marking problem for this team, the family does not mind coming to see me though they do have some veterinary practices nearer to their home in north-east Singapore and the client-veterinary relationship was great.    

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