Putting Our Heads Together – BT Tinkles

Putting Our Heads Together – BT Tinkles

A lot of things are bringing me down, but one of them is my elderly Boston Terrier. First, a little snippet.

Someone asked in the last post about BT, what BT stood for. Brace yourselves for the creativity here… it stands for Boston Terrier. Before you judge Tim and I for the world’s most terrible dog name, you should hear the back story.

Although I was the one who brought BT into our lives (another story for another day), she was always Tim’s dog. In fact, I didn’t want to keep her after some early snarling from Eliot (foreshadowing), but Tim was smitten and insisted she stay. Being his dog, Tim needed to pick a name for the new alien dog creature. He spent days and days deliberating. Early after getting BT, we had scheduled a trip to go out of town so I left her with a friend to watch her while we were gone. Said friend took little Boston dog to a horse show that she was working at, and friend plus all the horse show friends just started calling the new dog “BT” for Boston Terrier.

We came back, and Tim officially named her Claudette… but we all know which name stuck.

Although I love my Claudette BT, she is driving me slowly insane.


BT was a puppy mill breeder dog that was pulled by a rescue before we got her. There were over 30 Bostons in a cage, and the amount of filth there was not ideal. BT lived for years knowing she needed to eat feces to survive, and that living in waste was totally normal. House training her was a night mare, because she doesn’t have the instincts many dogs do to keep her personal space clean. Even at much younger ages, she would have accidents out of spite or because she simply didn’t care to wait to go outside.


Flash forward now to her “double digits” (I don’t know how old she is), and it’s becoming a real problem. Though I suspect BT has been peeing in her bedding for years (I wash beds every week), now it’s either more frequent or more noticeable since I’m sharing a bathroom with her. If I come home every 4-5 hours and watch her like a hawk, we can get through a day with no accidents. If I live life normally (you know, doing things besides work and watching an elderly Boston Terrier at my apartment) she has accidents all the time. I haven’t been able to find a pattern or solution, but here are my observations:

  • I have watched her fluff bedding as if she were to go to sleep, and then pee in it instead. Right in front of me.
  • Some days she’s put up from 8am – 6pm with no accidents.
  • Some nights she can’t make it from 10:30pm – 7:00am without accidents
  • She wakes me up earlier and early every day, first starting at 7am and now it’s more like 6:30am… if I ignore her until I get up (around 7am) she will have accidents. This does not change the later I let her out at night.
  • She ignores pee pads and won’t use them. Will pee on her bed or the floor next to her bed instead of pee pads
  • I haven’t tried doggy diapers because I was iffy on how humane they were… but I’m getting desperate

I’m getting really, really frustrated. I don’t know if she’s having old age incontinence problems, or the move has just messed up her schedule so much she doesn’t care anymore… or both. Either way, I’m cleaning every day and doing way more dog laundry than I care to.


Overall, I feel like BT has a pretty good quality of life. She plays with Pascale (though not as much as she used to), enthusiastically eats her dinner and enjoys most of the chewies I give her. When I’m home, she kind of strolls around the house sniffing things. She’ll come up to me and lick my leg, or beg for food. Do I think she’s the world’s most stimulated dog intellectually? No. Could I sleep at night if I put her to sleep tomorrow? Probably not.

So there’s the problem. Ideas welcome.

41 thoughts on “Putting Our Heads Together – BT Tinkles

  1. As a dog mom to a frequent pee-er… Have your vet test her urine. She may actually have a UTI. My pug Pia had chronic UTI’s. Sometimes she shows no symptoms at all other than she can’t hold her urine. And same thing, she’ll go right in front of me and look at me like “yeah… I just peed on the floor.” It’s happened in MY BED which resulted in the dogs losing snuggles with mommy privileges at night. It may not be the problem at all, as you mentioned she’s older and has always had issues, but it’s worth checking into.

      1. Yes, typically that can be a sign of perhaps a little UTI or just the age . double check with your vet. What works great as ridiculous as it sounds, throwing a bkue tarp over thr bed, or tin foil, it will keep the doggy off of that area. Youre so awesome for moming a senior BT. I bet they love you alot.

      2. This — I have a little dog that has an underdeveloped vulva (you haven’t lived until you’ve had your rather cute vet flip your dog around and give you an anatomy lesson on dog vaginas, sigh) that means she frequently gets UTI’s. Same thing – cannot hold it, will pee right on the floor, pee in bedding, etc. (And peed once in my bed – hasn’t been allowed up there since!) She’s a poop eater too. She is a TON of work (and has cujo moments to top everything else off, I feel horrible for my other dog on some days) with all the cleaning. I’m lucky that she will happily use pee pads or a litter box if they are available to her.

        (Longtime reader here, never commented before, but I know how frustrating this is!)

      3. Don’t feel stupid! Honestly, the first time I only figured it out because it was snow outside and I saw (sorry this is gross) some blood in her pee. I would not have known otherwise.

    1. I second this. Our cats started acting out and turned out they had crystals in their urine (bladder) from UTI’s. Another reason why the one cat is on kitty prozac, to ideally help him not piss on every fluffy surface in the house.

  2. How frustrating. And wish I had advice- I need advice too! I’ve having senior issues with my 14.5-year-old rescue as well. She cries 3-4 times per night just to go outside and sniff things, and it seems like there’s an element of dementia to it. It’s wearing on our sleep big-time. But, at her last senior bloodwork vet check, she was perfectly physically healthy.

    1. I wonder if the Dementia has a part to play as well. She’s also on medicine that makes her SUPER hungry, so I think part of the early wake up calls are for breakfast. It’s so hard when you love these critters and they age in a way that drives us slowly insane!

      1. You can buy feeders that release small amounts of dry food on a timer for cats. Not sure if they make them for dogs but may be BT is small enough to use that and it would take care of the super early wake up feed?

  3. I agree, it wouldn’t hurt for BT to have a wellness exam at the vet. They may be able to find an issue or have suggestions for her incontinence. So sorry you are having to deal with this. The things we do for our animals!

  4. I second/third the advice on the UTIs, you might also check for diabetes, a friend’s cat stopped using the litter box and starting peeing everywhere because he had developed diabetes. I don’t know how common it is in dogs but might be worth looking into.

    That being said, she is an older female. I’ve heard that it’s quite common for older, spayed female dogs to develop incontinence issues.

  5. No comments about the peeing issue but a giggle in solidarity at the name.

    We had a stray chocolate lab living with us for about a week until her owners were found. I called her CD, as in Chocolate Dog. She responded to it great, probably because in reality her name was Sadie.

  6. ugh so frustrating. i had this problem with a cat a few years ago – and it was strictly behavioral, all vet tests came up negative (and i certainly tried just about anything). it was a very unpleasant shift in my relationship with my pet! wishing you good luck in sorting it out and keeping BT happy and accident-free!!

  7. Agree with the above, check for UTI.
    Doggie diapers worked for my moms old dog. He peed in the house from a young age just because he was a jerk/stubborn and hard to train. I heard about the doggie diapers when I went to school for vet meds and promptly told my mom. He peed in them sometimes, a lot of the times he didn’t and then eventually we were able to stop using them. Not sure if it would be the same for your situation but it might be worth a try. Maybe if you looked at them from the angle of it not being her time yet, her quality of life is still good so this would help you keep your sanity and not put her down unnecessarily.

  8. My old greyhound was kind of like that – she would just decide that she didn’t feel like waiting for me to let her out, so she would just pee on her bed. Then she would stand there and pant because she then had nowhere to lay down.
    Then of course, my Monster Dog who is the absolute dumbest dog on the planet, managed to partially un-housetrain herself because she would smell the bed where Ti had peed, and then she would pee on it herself. When I wake up in the morning I have to immediately let her out, because her brain goes “we wake up now! Wake up and then we pee!” Where she pees does not seem to register with her – she knows it is time for peeing so she will pee whether or not she is in the house or outside. Because she is special like that.
    And my Doberman has spay incontience – she basically leaks her bladder all over the place when she is sleeping, unless she is on Proin. She got it after she was spayed as a young dog, but old dogs can have incontience issues too and Proin makes ALL the difference for them.

    1. My previous Doberman also had spay incontinence when was about 4. At first she was just leaky, but as she progressed she would pee in her sleep. Other than that was happy/healthy for the most part. I gave her Proin for years and it really helped until she was about 8.5-9. Also, you could try doggie petticoats. You can buy “sanitary napkins” for dogs. I would just put an actual human pantyliner in the petticoat. When I thought I might show my current Dobie and she was unspayed I had the petticoats on her when she was in heat. She didn’t mind them at all. I bought them at PetSmart. But I feel your pain. I have been down the path of always doing dog laundry. Oh wait, I still do–thanks to TWO big dogs who own our house. Also the petticoats wash very nicely (less going into the landfill).

  9. If it is a UTI, you’ll want to get it analyzed pretty quickly. I’ve been told that, when left untreated, UTIs can escalate to kidney issues before too long. This makes me think BT doesn’t have one since you’ve been mentioning the issue for a while now. I would definitely take her to the vet though to check for that and diabetes.

  10. Everyone is right on the money for suggesting a urinary test. They can show a variety of things going on in the body and not just the urine as well. If that comes up empty, vet may still put her on something like Proin (phenylpropanolamine) to see if that helps tighten up bladder control. Silly old girl.

    Oh, and we had cat named GD that use to come in. Stood for “Goddamn cat”. And a wild burro that use to board at the in-laws house named BLT. No idea what that stood for! 🙂

  11. I also came to comment on the possibility of a UTI. Other things it can be: bladder stones (they cause major irritation in the bladder), a bladder tumor (reduces space in the bladder), renal failure (not as common in dogs as in cats, but it certainly does happen), diabetes (very common in dogs), Cushings disease (yup, dogs can get it and it is pretty common; makes them more prone to UTIs, excessive urination) and/or old dog incontinence.

    I’d take her into the vet and have them do a full senior wellness panel to start, which will include a urinalysis + a CBC & chemistry. Ask them to send it to an outside lab (most general practices use Antech or Idexx) because the results will be much more accurate. I would also ask them to obtain a sterile urine sample to send out along, in case the lab sees bacteria in the urine: they can then go ahead and culture the sterile sample to make sure BT goes on the right antibiotic for the infection. If everything comes back normal, they might go ahead and treat for incontinence. As for the comment about this not being a UTI because she’s had this issue for a while: minor UTIs can be present for a long time without causing any other major issues until they start to worsen.

    If she does not have a UTI, they might want to take x-rays of her bladder or have her get an ultrasound (sonogram) of her bladder to rule out stones or a tumor.

    In regards to incontinence, there *are* treatments for it, one of them being a hormone called PPH that comes in a chewable tablet called Proin. Treatments aren’t always 100% effective but they can certainly help symptoms.

    It wouldn’t hurt to have the vet do a neurological exam while she is there. He/she will just check her reflexes to make sure everything is okay, as part of the physical exam. (This should not be an extra charge!) Major behavioral changes in older dogs can be due to old dog dementia, but can also be due to neurological changes like brain tumors (I hate bringing this up, but it is quite common.) There is medication that can help with senior dog dementia, like Anipryl http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/diseasesall/a/aniprylseniors.htm), and Hills came out with a prescription diet called out b/d for this condition: http://www.hillspet.com/products/pd-canine-bd-canine-aging-and-alertness-dry.html I can’t testify as to b/d’s effectiveness, as I work on the specialty side and this is more an issue that a vet would see in general practice. I personally am not a huge fan of Hills diets in general, but it’s another thing you can ask your vet about.

    As for diapers: I would avoid them at all costs. I understand why people resort to them, but I have yet to meet someone who is able to do the maintenance that constant doggie diaper use requires. It is a LOT of work. They require constant changing, which rapidly adds up cost-wise, and you will also have to be making sure her rear is 100% clean and dry between diaper changes, as any remaining urine on her skin can cause urine scald. Urine scald is horrendous and can get out of control very quickly, leaving the skin looking like the animal has third degree burns. The diapers can also set them up for both UTIs, skin infections and rashes from the rubbing of the diapers. I have seen all of these scenarios. 🙁

    I’d start with the vet and a work-up with bloodwork and a urinalysis +/- culture, and take it from there. I hope this is both simple and treatable!

  12. I have had a senior female dog that , in the later stages of her life, didn’t quite make it outside each time
    she had to piddle. I bought the cloth doggy diaper and slipped in a mini pad. That way I didn’t have to
    wash the diaper each time, and mini pads aren’t that expensive either. This worked well for us as we
    used it primarily at night. You do have to monitor skin condition, so they don’t get a urine burn. A quick
    wash with a warm washcloth and she was good to go. Good luck!
    barb Vancouver Island, British Columbia

  13. My family’s senior pug was incontinent in the last years of her life. She lived to 16.5. She was just elderly. We made a harness with a bungee and used baby diapers. was a PITA but she lived happily and incontinently for a few more years. I’ll try to post a pic to your ‘She Moved to Texas’ fb page.

  14. Add me to the UTI list.

    My jrt (jack russell terrorist) will periodically get utis and then cannot hold it overnight, unless I walk her as late as possible before bedtime, and occasionally withhold water after dinner until the antibiotics start working.

    You mentioned she was on medication that makes her extremely hungry- if she is on a steroid, excessive and urgent urination is one of the side effects of those drugs.

    Hope the vet can help you and BT out!

    1. My original comment is being moderated…I’m not sure why, as I went to a lot of trouble to write it from the veterinary standpoint. I won’t comment again. But just wanted to say that yes, if BT is on a steroid that will definitely make her more prone to urinating.

      Best of luck with her!

  15. First of all – my mom once had a dog named Boy. As in, “here boy”! So I feel like BT is better than that. Especially if she’s an “alien” dog. Then its a witty play on ET 😉

    I second, third, fourth, whatever a trip to the vet to look into the incontinence. My corgi only pees in the kitchen when he has a prostate infection. If you need a vet close to your new place, I go to Lakeline Animal Care for small animals. Dr. Engle is the best. Also, their hours are super job friendly and their dog boarding is super cheap for a vet.

  16. Our little Frenchie is similar in that she was kind of a rescue and definitely left in a crate for too long. She doesn’t care at all about peeing in a crate. She stays in a crate that is probably big enough for a Great Dane… Half has a potty pad in a tray and the rest has a towel and a bed. She never does anything over night anymore that’s not on the pad… But during the day she is a demon. I am pretty confident it’s a behavioral issue with her as I’ve had her checked multiple times. Really tough. I’m sorry you’re going through that and the double struggle that she’s aging.

  17. I would try doggy diapers (at least over night)! 🙂 Would save you from a lot of laundry. One of friends dogs wears them over night as well, I don’t think it’s inhumane – he’s very happy and has a great quality of life.

  18. I feel you on this one, while I don’t currently have issues my dog goes out every 4 -6 hours (because I work from home) otherwise she will have an accident. I just chalked it up to her having a tiny bladder but I might have the vet take a look at her too.

  19. This is completely unrelated, but I’m still learning the etiquette of blogging and wasn’t sure if it was uncouth to randomly comment (relevantly) on an old post or comment (completely irrelevantly) on a current post, so it is what it is. I just wanted to give a thank you! I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now, and have inevitably ended up hopping around deep in the archives, as is the tendency of a jobless college student in the summer. I know this is a shitty/weird time for you, but I found your old posts on blogging to be, oddly enough, motivating, and also really helpful. So, thank you, and know the old stuff is still appreciated by n00bs like myself! Hope BT and her bladder get their act together soon!

  20. I agree with comments above. If you have a good relationship with your vet then a quick urine sample will be cheap and get you at least an answer if there is a UTI. And if there isn’t, at least that’s out of the way. Antibiotics aren’t very expensive but ghost hunts can be ahahaha. Good luck! She looks great and BT is a perfect name.

  21. I agree with all the comments! I would take BT to the vet – it could be a UTI. Tizzy was obsessively drinking water for a while and I attributed it to her getting old. I finally took her into the vet and they did blood tests. She is now on Thyroid meds and everything is back to normal with her.

  22. Could be hormonal. I had an older female who started having incontinence issues, the vet put her on estrogen and it went away over night. Granted, she was spayed as an older dog which is a risk factor but I understand it can happen to older females even when spayed young. Hope you find a relatively manageable answer.

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