Not-so-fun Fact: The incontinence medication, Proin, that I have been faithfully feeding Maggie for 3 years is nothing other than Dexatrim. The active ingredient in Proin, Phenylpropanolamine (PPA), is the same active ingredient as Dexatrim. Awesome. I have been giving my baby diet pills her entire life. How f***ed is that?!?! Not to mention that PPA has been banned in the US due to its tendency to cause stroke in people. Double f****ed!! Now that I know what this drug really is, I have to wonder - could some of her behavior problems be related to being on a "speedy" drug for the past 3 years?
Part of me felt betrayed that my vet never bothered to discuss side effects or the history of the drug with me. The other part of me felt guilty that I never asked. To be clear, Proin is not known to cause stroke in dogs. It is known to cause restlessness, irritability, elevated heart rate, seizures and coma. When I learned this, I began to think that perhaps, just maybe, Proin could be one factor in a kaleidoscope of factors contributing to her itchies, or general discomfort, as well as the behavior problems. Not to mention that Maggie has never gained those few pounds that most dogs do as they transition from puppy to adult (guess those diet pills are working!).
Determined not to keep her on Proin, I had been spending time researching herbal and homeopathic remedies to incontinence. During this time, we started seeing her eating her own poo and having digestive issues. Worried that changing too much at once would lead to further issues or at the very least, leave unclear what remedy was helping what issue, I decided to post-pone the transition to an herbal incontinence solution until we had these digestive issues under control.
Until now. I give Maggie her Proin in her food. The other night, Hurley got into her bowl as I was putting them down. I noticed he got a few pieces of kibble before I pulled him back and redirected him to his own bowl. And I thought nothing of it. Fast forward 2 hours. I start noticing that my little puppy was having difficulties getting comfortable. He lays down, whines and moves. Again and again and again. Something is not right. I rack my brain – did he eat the mushrooms that grow in our yard (I’ve been trying to keep those pulled as soon as they come up so he won’t get at them) or could it be that the newspaper he ate in his kennel is blocking his digestive tract?? Finally, I remember dinner-time and holy crap, he might have eaten Maggie’s Proin!
The hubbie and I immediately googled a Proin overdose and called the local vet hospital here in Portland. Thank god for Dove Lewis! Their vet tech talked through his symptoms with me, checked with the doctor on dosage (he only had 25 mg, half a tablet). I was told that this was on the high end of a dosage for his age and size but that it was still within an acceptable range. Meanwhile, Hurley was obviously miserable. My poor baby! It was one long night of keeping an eye on him to make sure he didn’t have a seizure and that his heart rate was not so elevated that we needed to take him to the hospital. Lucky for us, he was fine by the next morning.
Never again will any of my dogs be given Proin. The next day I started Maggie on Animal Apawthecary's Tinkle Tonic. So far so good but I'm sure we'll need to play with dosage levels and maybe turn to a different product/solution if this doesn't work out. It's only been a few days. I've got a laundry list of herbs and products to try - from cornsilk to cranberry powder to Homeopet's Leaks No More. What I have learned in my research is that herbal remedies can have different levels of efficacy on individual dogs. It may take us a while to find the solution or combination of solutions that work but we will persevere! And even if no herbal remedies work as well as Proin at controlling her incontinence, oh well. So I have to do a little extra laundry. Whoop-de-doo.
Never again will I accept a prescription without both doing my research and exploring natural remedies as an alternative to a daily pill. Never again, will I take a vet’s recommendation without question.
Never again will I fail to connect dots – it still amazes me that my vet never considered the totality of Maggie’s various issues and treated her wholely – holistically! Perhaps it’s because I was already pre-disposed towards exploring natural remedies and have a distrust of big companies, like dog food manufacturers and pharmaceuticals, which led me to question what I was being told and half of what I saw online.
I still don’t know if Maggie’s behavioral issues will improve as a result of being on a better diet and off Proin. We have seen improvements in the last year but those could be attributed to our positive reinforcement training as well as better nutrition. What I do know is that I believe wholeheartedly in stepping back from an individual symptom and considering the entire picture – behavior, nutrition, chronic health issues, environment, and genetics. I believe in under-taking the many times arduous process of addressing a root cause, rather than just treating the symptom. And I believe that nature knows best but that science has its place in my arsenal as well. I will continue to see my regular vet for annual checkups and vaccinations but I will seek a second opinion from a holistic vet if any chronic illnesses rear their ugly heads – which may be sooner rather than later if the herbal remedies I know of do not work on Maggie’s incontinence.
While I have certainly made mistakes with Maggie, most of which are me not being as informed of a doggie mom as I should have been, I am forever grateful to her for leading me down this road. Not only she but Sadie, Hurley and the many, many dogs we will have in our lifetime will benefit from what I have learned and my commitment to continue learning and exploring.