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Hi all, I'm a newbie. This seemed like the best thread to post this, since it pretty much expresses how my boyfriend and I are feeling right now. I’m so glad I found a forum that has had posts more recently than 2005! Most basenji forums I’ve looked at seem to be pretty stagnant.

We have an 8-year-old neutered male basenji, Montana. We've had him since August 2005. We got him from close friends. They couldn't keep him because he's not very child-tolerant and they were having twins. They'd had him since he was a puppy and was their first "child" 🙂

He's usually a pretty good dog. We live in a condominium and he's crate-trained. We haven't experienced any of the basenji horror stories of him breaking out of his kennel or anything. He's usually quite fond of his kennel- it's his space and sometimes will go in there voluntarily. My boyfriend and I both work full-time during the day and he’s in there for 8-10 hours. Usually, it’s not much of a problem. He’s very happy to see us when we get home and is ready to go outside. I know this isn’t the ideal situation for a basenji, and I know he’s not getting the activity he needs, but we’ve become attached to him (and vice-versa) and don’t want to see him end up who knows where or put to sleep.

Tana isn't too destructive, relatively speaking- he's never destroyed furniture or torn up a pillow. About the worst we've experienced was one time when his kennel door didn't get closed before we left for work, so he had eight hours of free time in the house. He tore into some garbage and ate some kleenex, which made a big mess, but nothing permanent. He can be quite a curmudgeon and aloof, but can also be very cuddly and friendly once he gets to know someone. He’ll play fetch in short bursts. He has a sensitive stomach, so we have to be careful about what we feed him, so a Kong is not a consistent option.

This is our second winter with him (and oh, is it winter-y here in Chicago? Oh yes! With no end in sight!) Last winter he was a nervous wreck- that's when his previous owners told us he gets cabin fever during the winter and gets really anxious. Besides the usual basenji behavior of yodeling and general grumpiness, he was also urinating in his kennel and on the couch quite a bit. We took him in for his yearly exam last February, had him checked for bladder issues, diabetes, Fanconi's, etc. and everything was negative, so it was determined to be a behavioral issue. We made a few changes- not letting him on the couch anymore and supervising him more closely in the house, closing off certain rooms. By the time spring rolled around, his mood was better and the urinating stopped (except for a few instances, which were truly accidental; I can't blame him for that.)

Up until the past couple weeks, we thought his cabin fever for this year was nearly non-existent. He hadn’t urinated in the house in months and he was pretty good tempered. One factor contributing to this is probably that I’ve been out of work since early November, so I’ve been at home and he’s been out of the kennel whenever I’m there. As it just so happens, I just found a new job and start back tomorrow. He must have sensed this or something, because in the two weeks since I found out, he’s become a terror.

All of a sudden, he’s urinating in his kennel and in places around the house on a daily basis (some days more than once.) We’ve tried regimenting his water intake- giving him water, then taking him outside 20-45 minutes later when he should be ready to go. Some days this works, some days not. He doesn’t seem to indicate when he has to go about half the time now, by going to the door, which wasn’t a problem before.

Before the past couple of weeks, when we’d put him in his kennel at night, he understood that it was time for bed and he was fine. We’d feed him in his kennel and he’d be snoring within 10 minutes. Sometimes he wasn’t happy about it, if he heard us up and about, but he’d settle down. Last week, he refused to stop crying and scraping on his kennel door; it was like his life depended on it. It went on for about an hour and finally, I had to sleep on the couch, with him tethered with a leash to the coffee table and he slept all night. For that night, I did it because I figured maybe he had some separation anxiety or something, but it hasn’t stopped. The night before last, he was doing it for over two hours. He’d do it for about 3 minutes, then stop for 5, do it again for a few minutes, stop for awhile. It’s like doggie night terrors or something. Last night, he only did it for about 20 minutes.

I’ve scheduled a vet’s appointment for the day after tomorrow, for his regular yearly exam and to have him tested again for all the possible medical reasons for urination. We’re not going to make any decisions until we make sure it’s not a physical issue, until I’ve been back at work for a few weeks and his schedule is back to normal, and until the weather is better. It’s been frigidly cold here, so neither Tana nor myself wants to be outside for more than a few minutes. I’ve been sucking it up and forcing myself and him to stay outside, walking for a longer time, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.

My mom half-jokingly suggested we put him on Prozac or something. Normally, I’d scoff at it, but I’m starting to seriously consider it as it seems to be our only option in the winter months.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Anyone have experience with using anti-depressants on dogs?

Sorry for this huge post, I just wanted to give the full picture.

I'm not sure what to tell you but I hope you can get some assistance to solve this for you guys. It does sound like a case of doggie SAD. He seems a bit lonely…I know my baby isn't happy unless she's snuggled with us...but they are all different. Please keep us posted on what the vet says...

I just want to clarify that his urine has been checked for the presence of glucose? Or have his blood gas levels been checked? Those are the ways to check for Fanconi…some vets don't know...they run a urinalysis, that doesn't necessarily include looking for glucose. It sounds like he is having some sort of illness to me...a dog that doesn't normally urinate in his crate starting to,usually indicates something is wrong. I would imagine your vet has checked for a urinary tract infection, or stones...that is the first thing that would occur to me.

I have had dogs that are normally fine in their crates start carrying on desperately when they are having a UTI, or urinary crystals. Your description doesn't sound like separation anxiety, which would be appropriately treated by medication. The fact that he will happily go into, and fall asleep in his crate..then start freaking out later, doesn't sound right for SA.

It could be a case of urinary incontinence as well...he is approaching the age that these sorts of things start to show..especially if the he just doesn't seem to be able to hold it.

To me, the whole situation sounds medical, rather than behavioral.

Just a couple of ideas...hopefully whatever it is will be a quick fix.

Thanks all- the vet's appt. is tomorrow, so I'll keep you posted and I'll ask about the type of test they do.

If it turns out that it isn't a medical problem, I would take him to see an animal behaviorist. I took mine to see a specialist at a great veterinary college (his regular vet referred us), and they did a very thorough history and evaluation and were very helpful. They did not actually put him on any long term medication–just mild tranquilizers to use as needed--which I rarely used. But I did have a friend whose dog they put on prozac--and she said it did wonders for his separation anxiety--but he had an extreme case.

My Rocky get's "cabin fever" in the winter also and when he feels he's ben slighted, he'll urinate. Normally this occurs in his kennel but occasionally we'll catch him drawing in big circles on the kitchen floor (lots of fun to clean up, let me tell you). We're in the Chicago-land area also so we are familiar with how short a time frame the dogs can be outside before freezing. To help combat this, we found a good doggy coat (our are Land's End dog blankets) for him to wear to help cut the chill from the wind. This will allow us another five minutes outside on a bad day.

The only thing I have found to combat the behavioral urination (once you rule out all medical issues), is to go back to puppy training and the reward system. Everytime you catch your dog doing something right, reward (be it food or praise). We've found a couple days of intense "catch & reward" works wonders and the urination stops. Find indoor games of catch, play, tug, etc he can work on. I know it doesn't handle the exercise requirements but for Basenji's in Chicago-land, it's all we can do to keep them from freezing their paws off in the snow.

Good luck!

thanks for all the advice- Tana's appointment went well tonight. The vet said he has some proteins in his urine- nothing extreme, but more than usual. He said it could be just the way he is, it could be a minor infection (but there's no white or red blood cells, so that's not likely) or it could be a sign of Fanconi's. No glucose, though. He said they needed to do another test, called a quantitative micro…I can't remember exactly what it was called. Basically, it would compare the levels of protein to some other chemical in his urine and it would determine if it was Fanconi's.

The sample has to be that first morning urine when it's potent. He also needs his teeth cleaned and a small benign growth on his leg removed, both of which require general anesthesia, so I think we'll drop him off the night before and they can get the sample they need in the morning.

The vet drew blood for some pre-op liver levels and I need to schedule the procedure for some time in the next month. I was sort of distracted when I heard there wasn't glucose in there (phew!) that I didn't get to ask about the anti-depressants or other meds for his mood and anxiety. The doctor's going to call back in the next couple of days with the results of the blood work, so I'll mention it to him then. I think even if he okay'ed us trying it, by the time he got on the meds and got used to it, it would be spring and the issue will have disappeared. So, I'll talk to him about it for next winter.

How expensive does it usually cost to see an animal behaviorist? Is there a website that lists accredited ones? I don't want to get some whack job!

Like I said in my original post, I haven't found a toy that holds his attention for more than a few minutes. The few times we've given him a Kong (filled with peanut butter) he's really liked it, but he's too quick about getting that food out and we have to be careful about what we give him. I guess I have to be more creative. Any ideas? I'm trying to think of some of those tricks zookeepers use for polar bears, big cats, other animals that are prone to cabin fever in the zoo. Maybe freezing some kind of food in an ice cube (he loves ice cubes!) Maybe some treats in a box that he'll have to figure out how to open. We've found some treats that are really basic dog cookies- they're made with normal household ingredients, not a bunch of stuff I've never heard of, so they seem to agree with him. Plus, they're small, so he can get more. ...off to search for a toy thread....

ETA: I don't see a toy thread...is there one?

Oh, Rockyswoman, can you tell me more about your Lands End dog coat? You said it's made out of a blanket? Right now he just has a sweater (argyle- so cute!) and I'd like something that covers his legs and/or belly, since that's where he gets the coldest. I've only found one dog coat that covered the dog's legs, but it was pink and made more for chihuahua-type dogs.

Well, Tana came back from an overnight vet trip today. He had his teeth cleaned, a little growth on his leg removed and since that other urine test for Fanconi's had to be done with the first morning sample, I dropped him off last night so they could collect it this morning.

The test came back negative, which is good, but I still don't have a medical reason for his seemingly obsessive water drinking and frequent peeing. It's gotten a little better the past 4-5 weeks, but there was one weekend day, where he had a small drink, went outside, then came back in and peed in his kennel 3 times within 3 hours. Huh?

I wasn't able to pick him up at the vet, so my boyfriend did and he didn't ask the right questions, so I'm going to call the vet tomorrow with some follow-up stuff. Does anyone know the healthy amount of water he should be drinking? I've heard one ounce for every pound he weighs, but I wanted a second opinion on that. Our first step will probably be to make sure he gets about that much water and see if things improve. I'm hoping with the better weather, it will also improve, but I am going to talk to the vet about anti-depressants, at least for next winter.

does he pee a lot when he isn't in his kennel? or is it only related to the kennel?

FWIW, I have never heard of a vet requiring a first urine of morning for a Fanconi test. The urine test is really simple…either there is sugar in the urine, or there isn't. THEN a test called a blood gas should be run. That is the definitive test for Fanconi.

From the outside I would wonder if your vet knew what to look for for Fanconi. I could be completely off base here...but it might be something to consider. There are many vets that have never seen Fanconi (or a basenji) before.

Have you tested Tana for sugar in the urine yourself? You can (and should)buy Diastix at some drugstores (definitely online) and test his urine for sugar every month. Make sure you make it clear to the pharamcist that you need the ones that check for sugar in the urine...sometimes they will tell you 'you don't need that' because there are better tests for diabetics now...but explain it is for a dog that may have a disease that spills sugar in the urine.

The symptoms sound like Fanconi. And if I were you, I wouldn't rest until I saw the results that said "there is no sugar in the urine".

Good luck 🙂

@LSanders:

How expensive does it usually cost to see an animal behaviorist? Is there a website that lists accredited ones? I don't want to get some whack job!/QUOTE]

It was several years ago, and it wasn't cheap–I think around $175--but worth every penny! Your vet may be able to recommend one. Mine was a vet that specialized in animal behavior at an excellent veterinary college. We only needed to go for one visit (it was about 2-1/2 hours because they were very thorough). Then, I would call with updates on Max, and we talked on the phone a few times (no charge).

Oh, Rockyswoman, can you tell me more about your Lands End dog coat? You said it's made out of a blanket? Right now he just has a sweater (argyle- so cute!) and I'd like something that covers his legs and/or belly, since that's where he gets the coldest. I've only found one dog coat that covered the dog's legs, but it was pink and made more for chihuahua-type dogs.

We got ours thru Land's End (the clothing retailer). Their doggie coats are made of the same materials as their winter parkas. They normally have a tough velcro front (long overlaps across the chest so no breeze gets in) and a belly band that velcro's high on the side. It pretty much covers our Papillion's entire belly; Rocky's belly band doesn't quite cover his entire belly but it certainly does make a difference! Haven't found any coat for a medium sized dog that has legs attached to it. Ever thought of tube socks? (We put our old ratty baby socks on the dogs to keep the snow from packing between their toes while running around outside.)

Good luck!

Ok, I found out the name of the test he was given- it was a Urine Protein Creatnine test, and it's basically to determine if he has excessive proteins in his urine. The vet said that since the level was normal, there was no reason to go into further testing.

I also found out that 900-1200 mL per day is a healthy amount of water for him, so we're going to have to start measuring his water. :rolleyes:

When he goes in to get his stitches taken out, I'll ask about the anti-depressants for next winter.

Nope….vet should be looking for sugar in the urine, not proteins. Honestly, I am not making it up. I hate to say this, but your vet is not looking for the right things. Your dog is presenting with symptoms of the most common genetic disease in the breed. Go here to read all about it, and if you have to, print it out for your vet.

http://www.basenji.org/?q=node/36

Peeing his crate 3 x's in 3 hrs?? That is extremely excessive. I'll go with Quercus/Andrea on this one. Sounds like a medical problem. Check thyroid as well as that can cause really odd problems. Also please don't tell me you filled the KONG with PB! You really only need a little way up inside so they have to work on it to get it out. You may want to get a smaller kong if he's getting the PB very easily. He may also have depression! He's had a few changes and may not be quite as secure which may compound any problems he may have!

You can test your dog's urine yourself for glucose. Here is a link with what you need and how to do it. http://www.barkless.com/guide/strip.html

Regarding the PB/kong, you can also try freezing the kong with the PB inside so that it isn't so easy to get out. There are a few really good threads on here with toy ideas. There's a few in the 'Basenji talk' section that have some really good suggestions but it's just a matter of searching, there's a LOT of posts in here on a daily basis so if you're not keeping up it takes a while to search for specific things. Good luck and definately get the urnie sticks… I have to commend you for your efforts/concern, you're a very good B-mom.

FTR….my dogs hate PB...all of them!?!

When I stuff a Kong, I use creamcheese and kibble or broken biscuits. I also will use cheeze whiz in a sterilized bone. My dogs seem to like the sterilized bones better than the kongs.

Frozen canned catfood, or bratwurst also works well for stuffing. As Spitfire mentioned, there are a bunch of toy ideas somewhere here.

There are always good ideas hopping around-and always alt. to pb,anything that can be stuffed into them!

The test my vet did initially back in February found no glucose in his urine.

No, I didn't literally FILL a kong with peanut butter! It was 2 or 3 knife-fulls with a couple of small treats.

Since the last test, I've been giving him about 1000 ml of water every day. He doesn't always drink that much, but he's able to get at least that much. He hasn't peed in his kennel once, he's not pitching fits at night, he's a lot more relaxed and he's peeing a more significant amount when we take him out. And winter's over. I don't think that's a coincidence. I'll still try to get some glucose strips to monitor the situation, but I'm chalking this up to a seasonal thing. When he goes to get his stitches taken out from his leg later this week, I'm going to talk to them about anti-depressants or something for next winter.

Thanks for all your help!

Well, two variables changed at once right? The season turned, and you limited his water. So to know which one helped you might want to offer him unlimited water again during the nice weather, and see if the episodes come back.

I think it is possible that this is a behavior disorder, but I would be much more inclined to guess that is a form of dog OCD with the water drinking, than something having to do with the weather. I have never heard of dog seasonal disorder, and I don't think that they treat SD in humans with antidepressants, but with melatonin? Someone feel free to correct me if I am wrong. But, I think before I pursued an antidepressant, I would want to consult with a veterinary behaviorist. Also, the intent with dog anti-depressants is to use behavioral modification while treating, so the dog can be weaned off the drug in time. You probably already know this, but I feel it is worth stating. It sounds like you are already doing some effective behavior mod, and that is a good thing.

I am glad that your vet did check for glucose, my faith is restored 😉 And yes, it is important that every Basenji owner test month for glucose in the urine. I found them on Amazon.com under Bayer Diastix for $13.99 for 50 strips.

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