Your Estrogen Can Hurt Your Dog

Sari Reis is owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services, a San Diego dog walking company.

As a professional dog walker I believe one of the most important aspects of serving my clients is to stay informed and to pass important information on to them. This includes new data on dog behavior, nutrition, training insights and health risks to name a few. We are very fortunate to have so many places to get our information including website sources, books, magazines and journals as well as our professional associations. One of the tenets of Pet Sitters International is to continue your education and it is a requirement in order to maintain accreditation.

On that vein, I have put together this article, which I will share with my clients, on the health risks to dogs from ingesting topical estrogen. The original article was written by Mary Strauss and appears in the September issue of “The Whole Dog Journal.”

Topical estrogen, which comes in the form of lotions, gels or sprays, is applied to the skin by menopausal women to help eliminate symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and bone loss. According to the Veterinary Information Network News Services, veterinarians have become aware that symptoms of hyperestrogenism in dogs can be linked to the owners’ use of topical hormones. Because these products are often applied to the inner arm of the user, they can be transferred to the dog when the dog is held or licks the owner’s arms. It can also be ingested if the dog licks the ointment from a transdermal patch.

Hyperestrogenism can cause swollen vulvas in spayed female dogs or young female puppies. Affected male dogs can develop enlarged mammary glands and male pups may have an underdeveloped penis and testes. Prostrate infection may also be linked to exposure to hormones and excess hormones may cause hair loss in both sexes.

Treatment and Prevention: When using topical hormone preparation it should be applied to areas covered by clothing such as the inner thigh. Also it is best to use gloves when applying it or to wash hands very thoroughly afterwards. Signs of hyperestrogenism often resolve themselves within a few months once exposure ceases.

If you are a professional dog walker I urge you to share this information with your clients. It could save them a lot of worry and expense not to mention the benefits to the dog.