Expressing a Dachshund
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***** CAUTION: have your vet give you a hands-on lesson, so you know how much pressure to apply, etc. *****

In the warmer weather, expressing the bladder outside on the lawn is much simpler. In the winter months or at night I use the bathtub where there is plenty of light to see when the urine is coming out. Sometimes urine gets on paws or remains on the sheath, so a handsprayer and some babywash make him smell sweet again and keep urine from burning the skin leading to sores. Very important to clean all urine off the skin! CAUTION: do not use any ointments containing zinc, it is toxic.


Where to put dog?

There are many techniques...this one works best for me (other ways) and keeps Clark's IVDD back level while he was on crate rest. I am not tall, so I have the best control when I sit behind Clark and raise rear end (the dog's that is) to a standing position. A female dog will have head facing the stool where you are sitting.

If you are outside, kneel in the grass and let dog's rear end lean against your thigh with the head facing away from you. The toilet is very convenient.

Expressing while doxie is in a wheelchair is another good way.

While learning to express, the tub is well lighted, a good place to clean up urine from the skin. For a dog that has not had surgery and is still on crate rest, protecting the back from movement and keeping it level is important. The tub provides a non-skid, low, flat surface where your dog should feel safe. Expressing right outside the crate on a pee pad is a good alternative.

Click for larger toilet photo

Note how far back into the thigh the right hand pinky finger is positioned in the insert photos.

As the bladder gets smaller, change from a flat hand to cupped right hand fingers to contain it, using the pinky to find the bladder hiding back in the hip/thigh area.


NOTE: On the toilet (not recomended until after a conservative treated dog has finished crate rest. A dog needs to learn his balance and to feel safe and comfortable. While healing is not the time to train for this.) For a female provide a step stool for the front legs, and hold & position her rear over the toilet bowl.



Where do you put your hands?

Alternate link to Expressing Bladder movie:

From above your dog, place your hands as pictured as far back into the hip area as possible.

When the bladder is full, you will be pressing the flat hand slightly downward on the top of bladder against the flat of your fist with the bladder captured in between. When the bladder is full, a light pressure is all that is required to cause release of urine.

As the bladder shrinks, your hands move inwards gently. As bladder gets smaller, cup your left hand fingers to trap the slithery bladder. Slow, gentle, consistant pressing is not painful to the pup.

There may be a delayed reaction til the urine comes out-- hold 3-6 secs before repositioning hands. You need to express til urine comes out in dribbles rather than a stream, then the bladder is pretty much empty. Sometimes waiting 10-20 seconds and pressing again gives the bladder time to reform and you can get still more urine out. Keep trying til you find the "sweet spot."

Here are some xrays to show a full and a normal bladder (OK so it's a cat, but you'll get the idea)

What does the bladder feel like?

Sometimes your doxie will tense up his stomach muscles, wait til he relaxes so you can feel for the bladder. When the bladder is really full you won't discern a shape just a firm stomach which *is* the bladder. As the bladder empties it may feel like a small plum. And when it is empty it will be flat. As the bladder empties and gets smaller, it will move around. So it won't always be in the same position in the body. You will need to feel for it. You'll probably find it's moved farther back into the hip area. If your dachsie wiggles during expressing it can cause the bladder to slide out from your hands. NOTE: Some dogs are just harder to express initially. Try expressing in a warm bath to relax muscles or placing a warm towel from the dryer under the stomach. Ask your vet about Phenoxybenzamine, a drug that helps relax the urinary sphincter and makes expressing easier. Ask about Diazepam 30 minutes before expressing to help with bladder spasms and relaxation.

How often to express?

First reason to express is to avoid urinary tract infections that can be difficult to clear up. Second reason is you do not want the bladder to overflow and be stretched out of shape on a prolonged basis.

Spinal cord injury at waist or higher gives the bladder excessive tone and requires expressing manually. If the bladder is allowed to remain over-filled, it will stretch out and become flaccid. After a couple of weeks, bladder develops into an "automatic" bladder which means that when it fills, it will empty on its own but not capable of emptying all the urine out. If the bladder has over-stretched in the first 2 weeks after the spinal injury it will not be able to empty itself when it develops the neurologic capability to empty later on.

Injury to the lower back produces a bladder which simply leaks and never has enough tone to fill.

Start by expressing your dog's bladder once every three to four hours during the day and just before bedtime. Minimum should be 4 times a day. For initial learning time better to express more often and have pup drink water frequently. Adjust the schedule as you see what is necessary and depending how much water is consumed as you get the hang of expressing. Dogs not allowed to urinate at least 4x a day could be more prone to UTIs.

If you've been away at work or in the morning upon waking, give extra water (flavored with salt free broth if necessary) to flush out the stale urine in the bladder. I give my 17 lb doxie 1/4 cup. It takes about 1 1/2 hours for liquids to process and reach the bladder.

Stop water access three hours before bedtime. Express right before you turn in for the night and your pup will have a dry night.

Why does my dog pee on his own sometimes?

What might seem like peeing is the overly full bladder overflowing. The brain can no longer communicate via the damaged spinal cord to the bladder, so auto reflex has taken over. When the bladder is full, auto reflex releases urine. The bladder empties somewhat but definately not all the way.

When bladder function is beginning to return, it can be more difficult to express. A test to verify if bladder function has returned: let dog sniff a previous pee spot in the grass. If the dog urinates right after, that shows a message has been able to travel from the brain to the bladder! It will be necessary to manually check after urination until you are satisfied the dog can empty the bladder fully.

What are urinary tract infections (UTI's)?

When the bladder is not emptied, the remaining urine becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

Infections result and can be quite difficult to clear up. There are many strains of bacteria and finding the correct antibiotic can be difficult.

Just as with human medication, the full course of treatment needs to be followed. Too often a quick recovery early in the course of meds will prompt cutting the drug treatment short. This can cause a variety of problems ranging in severity from prolonged recovery time, right up to your personal contribution towards the creation of a drug resistant bacteria! Always follow your vet's complete dosage instructions.

The ideal urine pH should be 7-7.5 in dogs. More about urinalysis.

What about poop?

Good news is auto reflex causes all the poop to come out on its own. All you need to do is figure out your pup's schedule so you can act before poop ends up on the floor.

Feed your dachshund a good diet (of quality protein & low or no corn, it has a higher fiber content than other grains). If a dry food soak the kibble with equal amount of water. Provide plenty of extra water during the day. Dogs normally take in about 20 to 40 milliliters per pound of body weight per day, or about 3 to 4 cups of water per day for a 20 pound dog. You'll find smaller and nicely formed BM's to deal with when food has less fiber. Feed twice a day, you'll have 2-3 poops a day. You'll know approximately when the bowels will empty to the hour. Close to "the time" you can encourage the muscle to expel. Stroke the area on both sides of the rectum with thumb and forefinger (this will also stimulate the emptying of the anal glands). You will feel that there is poop in the rectum. His muscles will now start to push out the contents. Movie.

Paralyzed dogs may not have regular daily bowel movements. They must go minimum every other day to avoid painful hard stools. 1 teaspoon plain canned pureed pumpkin 1x a day and plenty of drinking water can help avoid hard stools.

To know how long it takes for your doxie to process food, put a few small pieces of raw carrot or kernels of frozen corn in with dinner. The veggies pieces don't digest--watch for the stool with veggies and you'll know your pups digesting time. Often you will be able to park your pup's butt over the toilet and then flush away.... How easy is that!! Here's my friend Guadaloupe's Q-tip technique. How others do it.

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