Why excessive stretching on the surgery table can cause urinary bladder incontinence
In the first part of the urinary incontinence article series, I gave you the story of Caz and how she stopped being incontinent after we treated her back injury and adjusted her exercise.
If the connection of lumbar spine injury and over-exercise was a complete surprise to you, you are not alone. Most people including many veterinarians are not aware of this relationship. It is as if the most simple connections, the easiest treatments are the hardest to see in medicine. The next question naturally follows.
Why are back injuries and exercise related to incontinence?
Physiologically, urine leaking is caused by the weakness of the urinary bladder sphincter. This sphincter receives its nerve supply from the caudal-lumbar area of the spine.
It appears that when the lumbar muscles get injured or overexerted, they get tight and the bladder sphincter nerves get ‘impinged.’ This leads to the sphincter “numbing out,” and involuntary urine leakage follows.
Most people actually do not believe this until they see the practical results of the treatment that addresses the lumbar spine and muscles in the area. Failures of the approach are very rare unless there is a bladder polyp, tumor, infection or another underlying cause. Another issue may be when client do not follow the treatment instruction.
Why do female dogs become incontinent after spaying?This the next logical question. It is natural to ask why estrogen treatment is effective if lumbar injuries are the most frequent cause.
It is true that the drop in estrogen levels is one of the factors playing a role in urinary incontinence. However, there is another cause that often plays a role when female dogs are spayed
Many dogs going through the spay procedure are excessively stretched on the surgical table with the legs being pulled back by ties. The table is often insufficiently padded and this can generate excessive stress on the lumbar sacral spine and cause urinary incontinence.
My intention is not to discourage you from spaying or neutering your dog. In fact, I believe that it is an important part of addressing dog homelessness and unnecessary suffering.
All you need to do is to discuss this issue with your veterinarian prior to the surgery. Just be ready the practitioner may not be aware of the connections described above. I encourage you to politely ask that your dog not be stretched excessively on the surgical table and that the table is well padded.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM