Common Pet Questions..

Is your pet scratching and suffering from  red irritated skin? There are many skin diseases that can cause your pet to have a miserable itchy skin and all of these skin diseases have  a very similar appearance. Your pets skin may be very red, may have sores from scratching. Usually your pet will have a lot of  dandruff like skin flakes. This dandruff like flaking is called hyperkeratosis indicates skin inflammation, not dry skin.

Some of the more common itchy skin diseases include:

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  • Allergies to Pollens and
  • Molds ( Hay Fever)
  • Food Allergies
  • Contact Allergies
  • Demodectic Mange
  • Sarcoptic Mange
  • Staphloccocus Skin
  • Infections
  • Ringworm ( skin fungal infections)
  • Skin Yeast Infections  (Malassia  infections)
  • Drug Reactions
  • Fly Bite dermatitis
  • Hot Spot Dermatitis

Your veterinarian will need to do a thorough dermatological examination and  perform tests which may include:

  • Skin scraping and microscopic analysis
  • Dermatophyte  Culture (DTM)
  • Tape impression smears
  • RAST  allergy tests
  • Intradermal Skin Tests
  • Biopsy

The most important step in treating your pet is getting an accurate diagnosis. The wrong treatment can cause your pet’s condition to get worse or delay healing.
After determining the cause of  your pet’s itchy skin,  specific therapy will help relieve your pet’s misery and let you and your pet get a good night sleep.

Is Your Pet Suffering From Flea Infestation?

Fleas used to a major hassle for pet lovers. In the old days (just a few short years ago) we used to have to treat the house with toxic chemicals, put toxic chemicals in the yard and use shampoos, dips and sprays to keep the fleas off your pet. It was a lot of work.

In addition to causing itchy irritation, fleas are like little vampires sucking blood out of  your pet. A severe infestation can cause life threatening anemia. Now new research shows that fleas can spread the dangerous Bartonella Infection commonly called cat-scratch-fever. Bartonella is the focus of  many medical research studies and is now thought to be the source of many serious infections in both people and pets.

Welcome to a new world in flea control ––– Biochemist studying insect biochemistry discovered biochemical pathways that occur in insects but not in mammals. Then they developed new treatments that target these insect biochemical pathways without affecting mammal physiology. These new treatments  are much, much  safer than the toxic chemicals of the past. Now veterinarians and pet owners have many options in once a month flea control that is very safe for  dog, cats, rabbits, and ferrets.  

No longer do you have to treat your house and yard to get rid of fleas. Simply apply one of the once a month flea products to your pets and you can eliminate fleas from your pet, house and yard in a few hours.

Your veterinarian has many different prescription products to choose from for monthly flea control. Stop by your veterinarian and ask the staff for a recommendation for your pet.  Each family’s situation is different so let your veterinarian help you develop the flea control protocol that is the best and least expensive for you and your pet.  With very little effort you and your pet can enjoy a flea free life.


Don’t be fooled by the many copy-cat products you find in retail stores. These products are the old  insecticides and sometimes very toxic chemicals that have been repackaged to look similar to the new high tech prescription products. This has become a common cause of poisoning in pets. It often takes weeks of hospitalization and can cost thousands of dollars to treat pets exposed to these poisons.

Be especially careful with cats and these over the counter copy cat products.

Many cats have killed by very caring owners that thought that the over-the-counter flea control products were safe like the prescription products. Many of these products contain a very old insecticide called pyrethrins. You may have seen many of the television reports on this problem. These over-the-counter products are often deadly to cats and labeled in a way that could easily confuse an uneducated pet owner. Don’t be fooled by these unscrupulous businesses.  

Is Your Pet Bringing Dangerous Ticks Into Your House?

Ticks can carry dangerous diseases such as Lymes disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other dangerous rickettsial infections. These infections are a health risk for humans as well as you beloved pet.  Ticks like wooded areas and tend to jump down on pets from trees and vegetation. This makes it very difficult and damaging to the environment to try and exterminate fleas in your yard.

The best solution are the new once a month tick prevention therapies available at your veterinary office. There are products safe for dogs and for cats. Some products are only safe for dogs. Take a few minutes to speak with your veterinarian or his staff so that they can design a tick prevention program for your situation. Just like flea products there are many options from topical once-a-month treatments to special tick collars and there is no one therapy that is best for all situations.

Heartworm Disease – The Cardiac Killer

Heartworm disease is the number one preventable heart disease in dogs, cats and ferrets. This parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes. If  you live in an area of the country that has heartworm disease it makes no difference whether your pet lives indoors all the time or lives outside. The mosquitoes that carry heartworm disease often infect pets that never leave the house.

Heartworm disease is becoming more common in many parts of the United States. It is caused by the heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis. This parasite lives in the right side of the dog’s heart and the nearby large vessels (pulmonary arteries). The female worm produces large numbers of microscopic, immature heartworms that circulate in the blood. These immature worms (microfilariae) are taken up with the blood by a mosquito feeding on an infected dog. After living in the mosquito for 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae can then infect another dog that the mosquito feeds on. The feeding mosquito deposits infective microfilariae into the skin of another dog, and these enter the body through the mosquito bite wound. The microfilariae eventually travel to the heart where they develop into adult heartworms. The adult heartworms produce new microfilariae within 3 months.

Heartworms grow slowly over 6 months from a tiny microscopic larvae injected into your pet by mosquitoes to a very large 4 to 6 inch worm that infects the right heart and the blood vessels of the heart. This parasite causes right heart failure and can affect every vital organ including the liver and the kidneys.  In dogs the disease may initially cause coughing and lethargy and then often progresses to total right heart failure.

In cats the onset of the disease is very sudden and suddenly have difficulty breathing mush like a severe asthmatic attack in humans. The most consistent early sign of heartworm disease in cats is vomiting.

Prevention  –  Monthly Heartworm Prevention and Yearly Testing

Keeping Your Pet Safe and Heatlthy and Saving You Expensive Heartworm Treatment

Fortunately this disease is very easy to prevent. Your veterinarian has a number of very safe, inexpensive  and effective heartworm prevention therapies for dogs, cats and ferrets. Your veterinarian has many different heartworm prevention therapies to choose from and will design a custom prevention program that is best for you and your pet.

No prevention is 100% effective  and all dogs should be tested at least once yearly for heartworm disease. This simple blood test can be done quickly right in your veterinary office. Heartworm disease detected early is easy and routine  to treat compared with advanced heartworm disease and right heart failure.

Testing cats yearly is very desirable, but more problematic. This is because just one or two worms can cause death in cats and small numbers of heartworms are undetectable on most tests. More expensive tests such as chest radiographs and echocardiograms are costly for yearly screening in normal cats. So,  in cats we rely on  prevention therapies and usually do testing only when your cat is showing clinical signs of heartworms.

In ferrets we have the same problem as cats so we rely on monthly prevention therapies alone rather than yearly heartworm testing.

There are no homeopathic or herbal therapies that have any effectiveness in preventing or treating heartworm disease. Holistic veterinarians have tested all of the known herbal and homeopathic therapies and  to date have not found any one or combination that helps pets.

Treating Heartworm Disease

Dogs – The Only Heart Disease In Dogs That Can Be Cured

Heartworm disease is the only heart disease in dogs that can be totally cured. If detected and treated in the early stages there is rarely any  long term damage to your dog’s heart and  lungs. Before treating your veterinarian will need to some very basic diagnostic tests to determine the amount of damage the heartworms have done to your pet.

These  basic tests include:

Biochemical Profile
Blood cytology screening for microfilaria
Chest Radiographs
Additional tests may be necessary include:

There are different treatment schedules based on the severity of heartworm disease. Dogs in heart failure may need cardiac medications and stabilization first before heartworm treatment can be started.

 There is much fear and misinformation about heartworm treatments. There seems to be more urban myths about heartworm treatment than any other disease in dogs. It seems like everyone has a story about the dog that died from heartworm therapy. Most of the time when you get to the real story – the dog was never treated and died from the heartworms.

It is important to detect and treat heartworm disease in the early stages. That is why it is very important to test your dog once a year regardless of  whether you are absolutely sure your dogs has received  his/her monthly prevention.

When your pet does have heartworms it is very important to properly stage the severity of heartworm damage with the discussed test so that your veterinarian can treat your pet with the proper treatment protocol.  In most cases complications are no more severe than pain at the injection site.  This pain can be minimized with pain medication.

Heartworm Disease in Cats

Heartworm disease is very common in cats. Instead of cardiac problems, cats primarily show respiratory signs that resembles asthma in people. All cats, just like dogs should be on heartworm prevention.

There is no specific symptom of heartworm disease in cats. The signs of heartworm disease in cats can range from chronic vomiting to cardiovascular collapse. When untreated heartworm disease in cats usually results in death.

Signs of Heartworm Disease In Cats Include:
Chronic Vomiting
Acute Breathing Difficulty
Weight Loss

Testing and treating cats for heartworms disease is much more difficult than dogs. Cardiovascular failure and difficulty breathing can be caused by many different diseases.

When cats are showing cardiovascular failure your veterinarian will need to do the following basic tests:

Biochemical Profile
Thyroid T4 level test
Chest Radiographs
Feline Occult Heartworm Blood Tests
Blood pressure Testing

Additional tests may be needed

Treatment for heartworm disease in cats depends on severity of disease. Many cats need intensive therapy, oxygen support and stabilization. Long term treatment is aimed at controlling clinical symptoms until the heartworms die in 1 to 3 years. Drugs used to kill heartworms in dogs are toxic to cats.

Many cats with therapy can survive heartworm disease, but prevention is much better way to go ( and much less expensive).

Heartworm Disease in Ferrets

Heartworm disease is a common cause of death in ferrets that live in areas of the country that have heartworm disease. The signs of heartworms in ferrets is non specific and include:

Difficulty Breathing

Basic diagnostic tests are necessary to determine the cause of the above signs and include:
Biochemical Profile
Chest Radiographs
Heartworm Antigen Blood Tests

Additional tests Include:
Adrenal profile

Just like cats, Treatment for heartworm disease in ferrets depends on severity of disease. Many cats need intensive therapy, oxygen support and stabilization. Long term treatment is aimed at controlling clinical symptoms until the heartworms die in 1 to 3 years. Drugs used to kill heartworms in dogs are toxic to ferrets.

Just like dogs and cats, all ferrets in endemic areas should be on heartworm prevention monthly.

Is Your Pet Vomiting?

Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms of illness in pets. Vomiting can be a sign of something as minor as simple indigestion or an illness as serious as liver or kidney failure or an acute life threatening disease like stomach torsion. Always contact your veterinarian if your pet is vomiting for instructions. Stomach torsions must be corrected within 45 minutes or serious complications can occur.

Here is just a small part of the list of the diseases that your veterinarian needs to rule out when your pet is vomiting:

Eating spoiled food
Eating frogs, toad or lizards
Food allergy/intolerance
Whip Worms
Eating food too quickly
Obstructions from foreign bodies (plastic, fabric, toys, bones, carpet etc.)
Stomach Ulcers
Reflux esophagitis
Hair Ball Obstruction
Parvo virus
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Mesenteric Torsion
Pyloric Stenosis
Stomach Cancer
Intestinal Cancer
Liver Disease
Neurological Disorders
Inner Ear Infections
Portal Caval Shunt
Kidney Disease
Addison’s Disease
Bufo Poisoning
Testicular Torsion
Intestinal Intusseption
Stomach Torsion* ( more information below)
Bacterial Enteritis
Bacterial Enterotoxemia
Many Toxins

…… and this is a very partial list of the possible causes of vomiting in dogs and cats

As you can see your veterinarian has quite a job in determining the cause of vomiting in your pet. Finding the cause can be quite a challenge and trying to guess based on your dog’s history often leads to an incorrect treatment.

As you realize how complicated something as common as vomiting is, you get an appreciation for the 8 years of intense training your veterinarian successfully accomplished to be able to help you and your pet.

The first step in diagnosis is a very thorough history, physical exam and intestinal parasite test. Then depending on your pet’s presentation your veterinarian may need to do some or all of the following tests to determine the cause of vomiting:

Biochemical Profile
Giardia Elisa Test
Thyroid Test
Heartworm Test
Abdominal Radiographs
Barium Radiographs
Abdominal Ultrasound
Upper GI Endoscopy
Exploratory Surgery

Treatment is totally dependent on first finding the cause of the vomiting. That is why it is so important for a veterinarian to do the necessary tests to determine the cause of vomiting in your pet.

Stomach Torsion:

Stomach Torsion is most common in dogs with deep narrow chests such as:
Great Danes
Doberman Pinchers
Golden Retrievers
Blood Hounds

But can occur in any breed. Stomach torsion happens when your dog’s stomach flips 90- 360 degrees – cutting off the blood supply to the stomach and spleen. This must be corrected very quickly or your pet will die.

Signs of Stomach Torsion or Gastric Dilatation Include:

Non productive retching
Progressive abdomen distention
Weakness or collapse
Frequent Belching

If you notice these signs contact your veterinarian immediately. If treated quickly (within 20- 40 minutes) many dogs survive. If not quickly treated the chance of survival drops rapidly. Immediate emergency intensive care and surgery is necessary to save your dog’s life.

Stomach torsion cannot always be prevented. Some dogs are just very prone to this condition. Some dogs get stomach torsion during times of stress including hospitalization and surgery. Some dogs get stomach torsion after extreme exercise.

There are some simple precautions that can be made:

· Is is best not to exercise your dog immediately after eating a large meal or drinking a lot of water.

· If your dog is prone to this disease feed small meals during the day rather than one large meal
· If your dog drinks water quickly – give him/her small amounts at a time.

Surgical Prevention

For dogs that are prone to stomach torsion or have survived a stomach torsion a surgery can be done that attaches the dog’s stomach to a rib – this gastropexy usually prevents stomach torsion.

Does Your Pet Have Diarrhea?

Diarrhea is one of the most common signs of disease in pet dogs and cats. Diarrhea is not a disease but rather a symptom of disease. Diarrhea can be a symptom of many diseases, so it is very important that your veterinarian does diagnostic tests to determine the cause so that proper treatment can be given to your pet. A thorough history is very important part of the diagnostic process, so observe your pet and record:

How many times a day does your pet have diarrhea?
Does your pet strain to defecate?
Is there any blood in the diarrhea?
Is there any mucus in the diarrhea?
Does the diarrhea appear to be associated with any foods or treats?
How long has your pet had diarrhea?

Diarrhea is caused by a change in the lining of the intestinal tract called the intestinal mucosa. The cells that make up the intestinal mucosa are replaced every few days and these cells are very sensitive to everything happening in your pet’s body. Here is just a few of the diseases that can cause your pet to have diarrhea:

Roundworm Infection
Coccidia Infection
Hookworm Infection
Giardia Infection
Whip Worm Infection
Parvo Virus
Distemper Virus
Infectious Hepatitis
Bacterial Infections
Fungal Infections
Food Allergy/Intolerance
Pancreatic Insufficiency
Eosinophilic Enteritis
Inflamatory Bowel Disease
Malabsorption Diseases
Liver Disease
Kidney Disease

Protein Losing Enteropathy

…. And this is just a small sampling of the diseases your veterinarian needs to rule out when your pet has diarrhea.

As you can see your veterinarian has quite a job in determining the cause of diarrhea in your pet. As you start to contemplate the complexity of your pet’s body and the diseases causing diarrhea, you get an appreciation of the 8 years of intense training your veterinarian accomplished to be able to help you and your pet.

The first step in finding the cause of diarrhea is a thorough history, physical exam and intestinal parasite tests. Then you veterinarian may need to do some or all of the following tests to determine the cause of diarrhea in your pet so that proper treatment can be initiated.

Biochemical Profile
TLI blood tests
PLI blood tests
Cobalamine/Folic Acid blood tests
Parvo Eliza Tests
Giardia Eliza Tests
Abdominal Ultrasound
Abdominal Radiographs
Barium Radiographs
Colonoscopy and Biopsy
Upper GI Endoscopy and Biopsy
Exploratory Surgery and Intestinal Biopsy

Treatment is determined by first determining the cause of the disease. Then specific treatment can be initiated. In some situations your veterinarian may diagnose by treating your pet with medications and observing the response. In many cases special prescription foods may be needed to control your pet’s gastrointestinal disease.

Is Your Pet Having Seizures?

Seizures are a common symptom of disease in pets. Seizures can be grand mal, where your pet loses consciousness, falls down and extends all of his/her legs in rigid extension. Seizures can also be petite mal, where your pet may stumble, have a very small spasm or temporarily space out. Often what appears to be a seizure is really cardiovascular collapse and your pet is really fainting from lack of blood supply to the brain.

Watching your pet have a seizure is very distressing and heart wrenching. Dogs and cats do not swallow their tongues during a seizure. They can accidentally bite with hysterical strength. So be very careful when helping or moving your pet so that you do not get bitten.

When a pet is continually seizuring their body temperature can rise rapidly. This causes life threatening hyperthermia which can cause irreversible brain damage. If a seizure is happening for longer than a few minutes seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

Look around and see if your pet has been exposed to any human medications, insecticides, flea products, has eaten anything unusual and if so notify your veterinarian.

Many diseases cause seizures. Here is a just a few of the diseases your veterinarian will need to rule out to determine why your pet is having a seizure:

Liver Disease
Portal Caval Shunt
Cardiac Arrythmias Syncope
Heart Failure
Distemper Virus
Poisoning – Organophosphates
Poisoning – Carbamates
Poisoning – Pyrethrins
Accidental Ingestion of Human Medicine
Drug Toxicity
Bufo Poisoning
Central Nervous System Disease
Vestibular Disease
Bacterial, Viral and Fungal Menigitis
Granulomatous Menigoencephalitis
Feline Ischemic Encephalopathy
(Cats are extremely sensitive to insecticides. Many over the counter flea products that are labeled for cats can cause seizures)

This is just a partial list of the possible diseases that cause seizures in pets. Neurological diseases are very complicated and your veterinarian has gone through extensive training to be able to diagnose and help your pet.

Your veterinarian will need to take a thorough history, do a complete physical and neurological exam. Then your veterinarian will need to do some basic blood tests to rule out the most common causes of seizures including:

Biochemical Profile
Thyroid Tests

Additional tests may be necessary including
Cholinesterase serum levels
Head and Chest Radiographs
CNS Fluid analysis

If your pet is seizuring your veterinarian will give intravenous therapy to stop the seizures while the diagnostic tests are being run at the laboratory. Therapy to treat the specific cause of the seizures will given to your pet.


Epilepsy is usually diagnosed by finding normal values on all of the diagnostic tests. So this disease is diagnosed by eliminating all of the other causes of seizures by history examination and diagnostic tests. Epilepsy is very common in dogs and also occurs in cats and ferrets. Your veterinarian has medications that reduce the severity and frequency of epileptic seizures. In mild cases of epilepsy medication is not needed.

When pets are on these epileptic medications blood tests are done to determine the exact dose for each pet – much like insulin for a diabetic pet. Routine blood tests are done to check the blood levels of these medications and dosage adjustments are routine done.

Is Your Pet Having a Difficult Time Breathing?

If your pet is having a difficult time breathing is is often a emergency and you should contact your veterinarian right away

Breathing problems can be caused by many different conditions in dogs and cats. Here is a list of just a few of the diseases that can cause your pet to have a difficult time breathing:

Pericardial Effusion
Sinus Diseases
Nasal Polyps
Fungal Infections
Heart Worms
Myocardiac Failure
Degenerative Cardiac Valve Disease
Congenital Cardiac Defects
Laryngeal Disease
Viral Diseases
Heat Stroke
Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
Blood Loss
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Choking on foreign bodies/ food
Infectious Tracheobronchitis

Many of these conditions are life threatening, so take your pet to your veterinarian as quickly as possible. Most of these conditions will have very similar clinical symptoms.

Your veterinarian may have to put your pet in oxygen and given emergency drugs before any tests can be done. As soon as it is safe your veterinarian will perform a very thorough physical exam and then diagnostic tests.

Tests that your veterinarian may need to do include

Biochemical Profile
Chest Radiographs
Blood Gases
Heartworm Test
Clotting Profiles
Upper and Lower Airway Endoscopy
Coombs Test

Because there are so many causes of difficulty breathing your veterinarian may need to do many tests to determine how best to help your pet. During this time your pet may need intensive care and oxygen therapy.

Once the specific cause of breathing difficulty is found specific treatments can be initiated.

Is Your Pet Limping?

Is your pet limping? Watch your pet and assess which leg or legs appear to be the problem. Sometimes acute lameness is caused by something stuck on your pets foot like a plant bur. If possible check the bottom of your pet’s foot to see if there is anything stuck to your pets foot. Be very careful in checking your pet because he/she could be painful. Some pets that normally would never bite, do so when in pain.

Here are some helpful observations that will help your veterinarian treat your pet:

· How long has your pet had the lameness?

· Is your pet not using a leg all the time or does it change

· Is your pet’s lameness worse in the morning on rising and then get better after moving around?

· Does your pet’s lameness get worse with exercise?

Many Illnesses and injuries can cause your pet to be lame. Here are just a few of the possible causes that your veterinarian will need to rule out:

Broken Bones
Foreign Bodies in Feet (thorns etc)
Arthritis – Degenerative Joint Disease
Carpal or Tarsal Injury
Joint Infections
Tendon Injury
Ligament Damage
Elbow Dysplacia
Anterior Cruciate Disease
Medial Luxating Patellas
Hip Dsyplasia
Necrosis of the Femur Head
United Anconeal Process
Coranoid Disease
Osteomyelitis –Bacterial Infections
Osteosarcoma – Bone Cancer
Biceps Tendonitis
Intervertebral Disk Disease
Lumbosacral Disease
Degenerative Myelopathy
Spinal Chord Trauma
Lymes Disease
Ricketsial Disease
Idiopathic Polyradiculoneuritis Coon Hound Paralysis
Tick Paralysis

As you can see lameness can be caused by many very different diseases. Your veterinarian’s first step in helping your pet will be to take a thorough history, then perform a thorough physical, orthopedic and neurological exam. By checking each joint for specific normal and abnormal movement your veterinarian will be able to narrow down the rule outs for your pet’s lameness.

Then your veterinarian will need to do some or all of the following tests:

Radiographs (xrays)
Joint Fluid Analysis
Contrast Arthography
Ultrasound tendons

Some types of lameness are very difficult to diagnose. In some cases of lameness a radiographic specialist or orthopedic surgeon will need to be consulted. Treatment of your pet’s lameness Once the cause of the lameness is diagnosed your veterinarian can start the appropriate therapy or surgery to help your pet.

Does Your Pet Have Gingivitis and Halitosis?

Gingivitis, plaque and dental tarter is one of the most common diseases in dogs and cats. When you look at your pet’s teeth observe:

· Is the gumline next to the teeth red?
· Is there dark yellow tarter on your pet’s teeth?
· Is there a foul odor to your pets mouth?
· Is there discharge oozing from your pets teeth?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes – your pet is suffering from dental disease. This is a bacterial infection and some pets are much more prone to this than other pets. The most important factor in developing gingivitis is your pet’s immune system. Some pet’s, like people, have the right environment in their mouth for harmful bacteria to proliferate. Sometimes gingivitis is a symptom of diabetes and autoimmune diseases.

These bacteria invade the structures that hold your pet’s teeth in your mouth resulting in tooth decay, peridontitis and loss of teeth.

When the harmful bacteria proliferate in your pet’s mouth, every time he/she eats millions of bacteria invade the bloodstream and can cause damage and infection to the heart, kidneys and other body tissue. This constant bombardment of harmful bacteria shortens your pet’s life.


Gingivitis can be prevented by a number of strategies that your veterinarian can assist you with including:

· Regular yearly or twice a year dental prophylaxis ( teeth cleaning) just like people

· Dental Cleaning foods such as Hill’s t/d diet and Eukanuba foods

· Daily or twice weekly teeth brushing with enzymatic toothpaste

· Zinc or Chlorhexiderm mouth drops (available at your veterinary office)

· Chew treats – rawhide impregnated with dental cleaner, Greenies

Treatment and Prevention – Routine Dental Prophylaxis

Routine complete dental cleanings are the most effective way to keep your pet’s teeth and gingiva healthy. It is not possible to do a complete dental cleaning in a pet that is awake.

For the safest anesthesia your veterinarian will first do pre-anesthetic blood screening to check for any problems that could complicate anesthesia. Next your pet will be given a short acting drug that relaxes your pet so that the anesthetist can place a tracheal tube in your pets trachea for gas anesthesia. This tracheal tube prevents any plaque, cleaning solution or flush from entering your pet’s lungs.

Usually your pet will be monitored with a pulse oximeter and ekg just like a person under sedation.

Then the dental technician will clean your pet’s teeth with the same type of instruments and cavitron that your dentist would use to clean you teeth. Once the plaque, tarter and calculus is removed the teeth are polished smooth to reduce the formation of future plaque. Then a fluoride rinse is performed. Then your pet is woken up from the anesthetic gas and observed for a few hours before release.

Does your pet have weakness in the back legs?

This is a common presenting problem in dogs and cats. There are many disorders and diseases that will cause your pet to have weak back legs. Some of these conditions include:

Lumbosacral disease
Disk Disease and Rupture
Degenerative myelopathy
Hypoglycemia ( Insulinoma)
Myasthenia Gravis

If your pet is suffering from weakness in the back legs schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as quickly as possible. Your veterinarian will do a complete physical, orthopedic and neurological exam. Then your veterinarian will need to do some or all of the following tests to determine what is causing your pet’s problem:

Biochemical Profile
Thyroid Profile
AChR antibody test

In some cases your veterinarian will need to consult with a board certified neurologist who may do the following tests:

CAT scan
Cerebral Spinal Fluid Analysis

Once the cause of your pet’s rear limb weakness is determined specific therapy can be started to cure or control the condition.

Is Your Urinating Frequently?

A change in the urination habits of your pet is a very important sign of many diseases. If you notice your pet urinating a larger amount of urine or more frequently contact your veterinarian right away. If you are able to collect a fresh urine sample in a plastic container that will speed up the diagnostic process.

Here are some of the most common causes of frequent urination:

Bladder Stones
Diabetes mellitus
Kidney Failure
Kidney Infections
Bladder Infections
Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenalcortism)
Diabetes Insipidus
Psychogenic Polydipsia

Your veterinarian will take a thorough history, do a complete physical exam and then need to the following basic tests:

Biochemical Profile
Ultrasound of kidneys and bladder

Sometimes the above tests are all that is needed to diagnose the problem.
Based on the results of these tests your veterinarian may need to do some or all of the following tests:

Thyroid test
ACTH test
Urine Culture
Abdominal Ultrasound
Abdominal Radiographs
Water Deprivation Test
Lymph Node Cytology/Biopsy

Once the cause of your dog or cat’s increase urination is found specific therapy or surgery can then be done to help your pet.

Weight loss is a very important clue that there is something wrong with your pet. If your pet is losing weight especially on the muscles on the back your pet is suffering from a serious illness. Monitor your pet to see if he/she:

· Is vomiting or having diarrhea.?
· Is your pet losing his/ her appetite?
· Is your pet eating more food, but still losing weight?
· Does your pet seem to tire easily?
· Is your pet drinking more water?
There are many diseases that cause pets to lose weight here are some of the more common that your veterinarian will need to rule out:

Kidney Failure
Heart Disease
Liver Disease
Malabsorption Diseases
Protein Losing Enteropathy
Infiltrative Bowel Diseases
Dental Disease
Diet deficiency
Pancreatic Insufficiency
Protein Losing Nephropathy
Diabetes mellitus
Central Nervous System Disease
Bacterial Infections
Intestinal Parasites

As you can see list of rule outs is quite long and many of the diseases are very serious.
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will take a thorough history, do a complete physical exam and do the folloing basic tests:

Biochemical Profile
Microalbuminuria Test
Intestinal Parasite Tests
T4 (cats)

Based on your veterinarians findings the some or all of the additional following tests will be needed:

Abdominal and Chest Radiographs
Abdominal Ultrasound
TLI / PLI serum tests
ACTH test
CAT scan
TLI / PLI serum tests
ACTH test

Does Your Pet Have A Painful Eye?

Is your pet holding his/her eye closed. Is there excess tearing around your pet’s eye. Does your pet squint especially in bright sunlight. If the answer is yes to any of these questions you pet may have a painful eye.

Painful eyes can be cause by a number of different eye diseases. Most of these disease affect the cornea or the anterior chamber of the eye. The cornea has more pain receptors than any other part of the body. That is why it hurts so much when you get sand in your eye.

Painful eye diseases include:
Corneal Lacerations
Corneal Ulcers
Corneal Superficial Injury
Anterior Uveitis
Foreign Bodies in the eye

Anytime your pet is showing signs of eye pain it is an emergency. Contact your veterinarian right away.

The cornea is a very delicate part of eye. Anytime your pet is showing signs of a painful eye you should contact your veterinarian right away. We do not have the technology to do corneal transplants in veterinary medicine so if the cornea is severely damaged your pet will be permanently blind. In many cases a very mild injury to the cornea that could be easily treated with simple eye drops progresses to a very serious corneal disease that requires major eye surgery in just 24 hours.

Is Your Pet Very Thirsty or Drinking Excessive Water?

Sudden change in the amount of water your pet drinks is a very important first sign of many common and serious diseases in pet dogs and cats. Often the first sign will be urination accidents in the house from a pet that is normally totally housebroken. Sometimes pets drink from sources other than the water bowl and you can miss this important sign of disease. Sometimes a pet is urinating frequently but not drinking more water.

Many of the causes of increase thirst are very serious diseases, so don’t procrastinate in scheduling your pets exam. Here are just a few of the common diseases that make a pet very thirsty:

Diabetes mellitus

Kidney Failure

Kidney Infections

Bladder Infections



Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenalcortism)



Diabetes Insipidus

Psychogenic Polydipsia





As you can see the list of causes for such a simple behavioral change is quite long. As you think about all the diseases that can cause your pet to be thirsty you get an appreciation of the 8 years of intense training and years of continuing education your veterinarian went through to be able to help your pet.

The first step in diagnosing the cause of increase thirst in your pet is a thorough history and physical exam. Then your veterinarian will need to do the following minimum tests:


Biochemical Profile


Based on the results of these tests your veterinarian may need to do some or all of the following tests:

Thyroid test

ACTH test

Urine Culture

Abdominal Ultrasound

Abdominal Radiographs

Water Deprivation Test

Lymph Node Cytology/Biopsy

Once your veterinarian has determined the cause of your pet’s increase thirst specific therapy can be started

How To Care For Your New Puppy.

Congratulations on your family’s new member. Once you have had a puppy in your house you will feel sorry for all those poor people that deny themselves the love and joy of a family dog. Dogs love us unconditionally – something people could learn from . Your puppy will be very excited and a little overwhelmed with his/her new home. Expect your puppy to be either very active or very sleepy.

The First Night

Expect your puppy to miss his litter mates the first night. It is best to keep your puppy in a crate at night while you are housebreaking. Think of the crate/cage as your dog’s personal cave. In the wild puppies sleep in cave like environments so this will be soothing to your pet. Some people like to have the puppy sleep in their bed. This is ok if it is suitable for your lifestyle, but keep in mind this is a habit that is hard to change later.


Many small and toy breed puppies are very susceptible for hypoglycemia. This is especially common in
Yorkshire Terriers
But can occur in any young puppy – especially one that is sick.

Puppies can have viral, bacterial or parasite infections that can cause loss of appetite and greatly increase the chance of hypoglycemia. It is very important for puppies to eat frequently – at least every 4 hours. This is most important with small breeds. In some cases it is necessary to give very small puppies food during the middle of the night to prevent early morning hypoglycemia.

If you get a puppy that is susceptible to hypoglycemia contact your veterinarian for orally glycemic pastes such as Nutra Cal and instructions on when and how to use this supplement. This can be used in an emergency or as a supplement to make sure your puppy does not get hypoglycemic.

If your puppy has many episodes of hypoglycemia this is often indicative of a problem such as :
Viral Disease
Portal Caval Shunts – congenital liver vascular problems

In some cases puppy’s glucose can drop so low that you puppy can suffer coma and brain damage. If your puppy does not respond immediately to glycemic paste contact your veterinarian or emergency center right away.

Hypoglycemia Is Primarily Limited To Very Young Puppies
Hypoglycemia is primarily a problem for young puppies. As normal Yorkies, Maltese and Chihuahua get older than 5 months they do not get hypoglycemia even after days of no food.

When an older dog gets hypoglycemia it is usually caused by severe infections called sepsis or as a result of a pancreatic tumor called insulinoma. If your older dog is collapsing or having seizures take your pet to a veterinarian so that the cause can be found.

Puppy-proof your home.
Raising a puppy is a lot like raising small children — they get into everything! Some of what they get into can be hazardous to their health or to your possessions. You can make life safer for the puppy and your furniture by getting rid of hazards and temptations ahead of time.

To a puppy, the world is brand new and fascinating! He’s seeing it all for the very first time and absolutely everything must be thoroughly investigated. Puppies do most of their investigating with their mouths — “Look at this! What is it? Something to eat? Something to play with?” Murphy’s Law says that a puppy will be most attracted to the things he should least have — electrical cords, the fringe on your expensive oriental rug, your brand new running shoes, etc.

Preventing destructive and dangerous chewing is easier than trying to correct the puppy every second. Look around your home. What objects could be put up out of the way of a curious puppy? Bitter Apple spray can be applied to furniture legs, woodwork and other immovable items. Are there rooms your puppy should be restricted from entering until he’s better trained and more reliable? Install a baby gate or keep the doors to those rooms closed.

Take a walk around your yard looking for potential hazards. If your yard is fenced, check the boundaries and gates for openings that could be potential escape routes. Puppies can get through smaller places than an adult dog. If your yard’s not fenced, make a resolution right now that your puppy will never be allowed to run off lead without close supervision. He won’t ever know enough to look both ways before crossing the street to chase a squirrel. Keep him safe by keeping him on leash!

When To Schedule Your First Veterinary Visit.
The best advice is to call your veterinarian before you pick up that new member of the family and ask to have the puppy examined as soon after you become the owner as possible. On your way home from the breeder/seller is actually a good time to have the pup seen by your veterinarian, and if you are able to you should bring in a stool sample from the pup for analysis for worms. Getting rid of any intestinal parasites is the first step in having the pup’s nutritional efficiency at an optimum level.

During the examination the veterinarian will look at the pup’s medical/vaccination history. If the breeder has given vaccinations just recently, and your veterinarian is confident that it was done properly, a recommendation will be made regarding when to come in for the next “booster” injection of vaccine. If the pup is healthy and unvaccinated, your veterinarian will suggest vaccinating right away. One or more of the vaccines listed in the table above will be administered and a suggestion made as to when the next visit should be scheduled.

During this initial exam your veterinarian can discuss any specific common congenital problems that your puppy may be predisposed to and how to watch for signs of any problems. If your puppy is prone to hypoglycemia your veterinarian can discuss how best to prevent this young small breed puppy problem.

Holistic Alternatives to Vaccines

There are no herbal therapies or homeopathic therapies that are effective in preventing your pet from a fatal infection from the viral diseases that vaccines protect against. Homeopathic nosodes do not provide any protection for your puppy in preventing a serious viral infection Homeopathic nosodes sometimes help in the very expensive and long treatment of viral diseases after a puppy is already infected.

After your puppy has received a few yearly vaccines there are titer alternatives to yearly vaccines. Ask your veterinarian about alternatives to yearly vaccines as your pet reaches 3 years of age. It is very important that your puppy is fully vaccinated and protected against the viruses that cause death in dogs.

Take a look at the table below and you’ll see an explanation of the different diseases that veterinarians can help protect your puppy against. A few of these are quite common, some are very deadly and an understanding of these diseases is important in puppy health care. You and your veterinarian can talk about which vaccinations should be given, how many times the vaccine should be administered to insure good protection, and when “Booster” shots should be done. (A “Booster” shot refers to giving a vaccine more than one time. The follow-up vaccinations will BOOST the immune level up higher and the patient will be even better protected from the disease. The word “SHOT” is rather slang. Injection is the better term.) Most puppies will get a combination vaccine, called a MULTIVALENT vaccine, which protects against more than one disease. This combination vaccine allows the puppy to be vaccinated via a single injection rather than having to receive four or five separate inoculations.

Multivalent vaccines are those that have more than one disease antigen combined into one injection.
A typical multivalent vaccine is the DHLPPCv vaccine for dogs. Instead of giving six different injections, all these “vaccines” or antigens can be given in a single small volume injection. Certainly this is easier on the dog than getting six separate injections.

DHLPPCv stands for:
D… Canine Distemper Virus… a dangerous viral infection. “Distemper” is an odd name for a viral infection and this disease has no relationship to nor connection with a dog’s temperament.
H… Hepatitis…a viral infection caused by two related viruses that mainly affects the liver.
L… Leptospirosis… a bacterial infection affecting the kidneys. This class of bacteria can infect humans, cows, dogs, pigs and other mammals.
P… Parainfluenza… a virus that along with the Hepatitis virus can cause upper respiratory infections.
P… Parvovirus… a severe and often fatal virus affecting the lining of the intestinal tract.
Cv… Coronavirus… is very similar to the Parvovirus, can be very severe, but has a somewhat different effect on the intestinal tract and generally is not fatal.

Typical Vaccination Schedule
Your veterinarian will recommend and vaccinate your puppy for the diseases that are appropriate for your area. The vaccination schedule may vary depending on your veterinarian’s vaccination protocol.
6 to 7 weeks of age: Give first combination vaccine. (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Coronavirus)
9 weeks of age: Give second combination vaccine.
12 weeks of age: Give the third combination injection and possibly a LYME Vaccine inoculation. Generally a LYME vaccine is then repeated two weeks later, then once a year.
16 weeks of age: Give the last combination vaccine.
12 to 16 weeks of age: Rabies vaccine is given. (Local and State laws apply regarding Rabies vaccine since this can be a human disease, too. Your veterinarian will tell you the proper time intervals for booster vaccines for Rabies.)

House Breaking Your Puppy

House-training a puppy requires time, vigilance, patience and commitment. Following the procedures outlined below, you can minimize house soiling incidents, but virtually every puppy will have an accident in the house (more likely several). Expect this it s part of raising a puppy. The more consistent you are in following the basic house-training procedures, the faster your puppy will learn acceptable behavior. It may take several weeks to house-train your puppy, and with some of the smaller breeds, it might take longer.

Establish A Routine
* Like babies, puppies do best on a regular schedule. Take your puppy outside frequently, at least every two hours, and immediately after he wakes up from a nap, after playing and after eating.

* Praise your puppy lavishly every time he eliminates outdoors. You can even give him a treat. You must praise him and give him a treat immediately after he s finished eliminating, not after he comes back inside the house. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for eliminating outdoors is the only way he ll know that s what you want him to do.

* Choose a location not too far from the door to be the bathroom spot. Always take your puppy, on a leash, directly to the bathroom spot. Take him for a walk or play with him only after he has eliminated. If you clean up an accident in the house, take the soiled rags or paper towels and leave them in the bathroom spot. The smell will help your puppy recognize the area as the place he is supposed to eliminate. While your puppy is eliminating, use a word or phrase, like “go potty,” that you can eventually use before he eliminates to remind him of what he is supposed to be doing.

* If possible, put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Depending on their age, puppies usually need to be fed three or four times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that he ll eliminate at consistent times as well. This makes house-training easier for both of you.

Supervise, Supervise, Supervise

Don t give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house. He should be watched at all times when he is indoors. You can tether him to you with a six-foot leash, or use baby gates, to keep him in the room where you are. Watch for signs that he needs to eliminate, like sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately take him outside, on a leash, to his bathroom spot. If he eliminates, praise him lavishly and reward him with a treat.

When you re unable to watch your puppy at all times, he should be confined to an area small enough that he won t want to eliminate there. It should be just big enough for him to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around in. This area could be a portion of a bathroom or laundry room, blocked off with boxes or baby gates. Or you may want to crate train your puppy and use the crate to confine him (see our handout: “Crate Training Your Dog”). If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, when you let him out, take him directly to his bathroom spot and praise him when he eliminates.

Expect your puppy to have an accident in the house it s a normal part of house-training a puppy.

* When you catch him in the act of eliminating in the house, do something to interrupt him, like make a startling noise (be careful not to scare him). Immediately take him to his bathroom spot, praise him and give him a treat if he finishes eliminating there.
* Don t punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it s too late to administer a correction. Do nothing but clean it up. Rubbing your puppy’s nose in it, taking him to the spot and scolding him, or any other punishment or discipline, will only make him afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Animals don’t understand punishment after the fact, even if it s only seconds later. Punishment will do more harm than good.

Cleaning the soiled area is very important because puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces

It is extremely important that you use the supervision and confinement procedures outlined above to minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, he’ll get confused about where he’s supposed to eliminate which will prolong the housetraining process.

Paper Training
A puppy under six months of age cannot be expected to control his bladder for more than a few hours at a time. If you have to be away from home for more than four or five hours a day, this may not be the best time for you to get a puppy. If you re already committed to having a puppy and have to be away from home for long periods of time, you ll need to train your puppy to eliminate in a specific place indoors. Be aware, however, that doing so can prolong the process of teaching him to eliminate outdoors. Teaching your puppy to eliminate on newspaper may create a life-long surface preference, meaning that he may, even in adulthood, eliminate on any newspaper he finds lying around the house.

When your puppy must be left alone for long periods of time, confine him to an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to eliminate. In the area designated as the elimination place, you can either use newspapers or a sod box. To make a sod box, place sod in a container, like a child s small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog litter products at a pet supply store. If you clean up an accident in the house, take the soiled rags or paper towels, and put them in the designated elimination place. The smell will help your puppy recognize the area as the place where he is supposed to eliminate.
Other Types Of House-Soiling Problems

If you have consistently followed the house-training procedures and your puppy continues to eliminate in the house, there may be another reason for his behavior.

* Medical Problems: House soiling can often be caused by physical problems such as a urinary tract infection or a parasite infection. Check with your veterinarian to rule out any possibility of disease or illness.

* Submissive/Excitement Urination: Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control of their bladders when they become excited or feel threatened. This usually occurs during greetings, intense play or when they re about to be punished (see our handout: “Submissive and Excitement Urination”).

* Territorial Urine-Marking: Dogs sometimes deposit urine or feces, usually in small amounts, to scent-mark their territory. Both male and female dogs do this, and it most often occurs when they believe their territory has been invaded (see our handout: “Territorial Marking Behavior in Dogs and Cats”).

* Separation Anxiety. Dogs that become anxious when they re left alone may house soil as a result. Usually, there are other symptoms, such and destructive behavior or vocalization (see our handout: “Separation Anxiety”).

* Fears Or Phobias. When animals become frightened, they may lose control of their bladder and/or bowels. If your puppy is afraid of loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, he may house soil when he’s exposed to these sounds (see our handout: “Helping Your Dog Overcome the Fear of Thunder and Other Startling Noises”).

Re – training / Housebreaking Adult Dogs

If your adult dog is having housebreaking problems first take your dog to your veterinarian to make sure your dog does not have a medical problem.

Diseases That Can Cause Urinating Problems Include:
Bladder infections
Bladder Stones
Congenital Urethral Deformities
Kidney Failure

Diseases That Can Cause Defecating Problems Include:
Intestinal Parasites
Anal Gland Disease
Anal Sphincter Disease
All Causes of Diarrhea ( see diarrhea)

Once your veterinarian has done a complete physical exam and found that the problem can be solved by training – take the following steps:

Treat her/him just as you would a puppy – establish a regular schedule, take her outside frequently, reward her for eliminating outside, and supervise her activity while inside. Progress should be much faster than with a puppy because you are refreshing and reinforcing already established habits, rather than teaching totally new behaviors.

Housetraining Problems

If you have consistently followed basic housetraining procedures and your dog continues to eliminate in the house, then the cause of the behavior must be determined before it can be changed. There are other reasons why dogs housesoil other than a lack of housetraining. Some examples of causes of housesoiling are:

Territorial Urine-Marking

Dogs will deposit urine, usually in small amounts, to scentmark teritory. Both male and female dogs may do this. This most often occurs when the dog believes its territory has been invaded.

Separation Anxiety
It is not uncommon for dogs to become anxious when left alone and housesoil as a result. If the soiling is occurring only, and consistently, when your dog is left alone, separation anxiety may be the cause.

Fears Or Phobias
When animals become frightened, they often lose control of their bladder and/or bowels. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, thunderstorms, or other things, it may housesoil when exposed to these environmental events.

Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control of their bladder when they become excited or threatened. This usually occurs during greetings, intense play, or when they are about to be punished (another good reason for not punishing after the fact or using physical types of punishment).

Invisible Urine Odors
Invisible urine odors in carpet attract pets to repeatedly re-urinate on those affected areas. This makes housebreaking very difficult, if not impossible.
If there are no urine stains in the carpet to show where the urine odor sources are, you don’t know where to apply the Stain and Odor Remover to successfully eliminate those urine stains. Consequently, the pets are repeatedly attracted to those areas to re-urinate on them.

When a kitten is about 4 weeks of age, s/he will begin to play in, explore, and dig in loose, soft materials. Many species of cats begin to show this behavior as soon as they can eliminate on their own. Kittens do not have to be taught by either their mothers or their human owners to relieve themselves in soft, loose materials or to dig and bury their waste. These behaviors are called “innate” behaviors because kittens do not have to learn how to perform them.

However, where a cat eliminates can be affected by its experiences. Litter boxes which for a variety of possible reasons do not provide an acceptable place to eliminate FROM THE CAT’S POINT OF VIEW, may cause a cat to go to the bathroom somewhere else. Thus, it is important for you to provide a litter box which meets you new kitten’s or cat’s needs so that s/he will like the box and use it consistently.


There is really no such thing as “litter-training” a cat in the same way one would house-train a dog. The only thing owners need to do is provide an acceptable, accessible litter box, using the criteria described below. Remember that what is acceptable and accessible must be determined from the cat’s point of view, not the owner’s. It is not necessary, or even recommended, to take a cat to the box and move his paws back and forth in the litter. This may actually be an unpleasant experience for the cat and may initiate “bad” associations with the litter box. As explained above, a cat does not need to be taught what to do with a litter box. If you provide him with acceptable, accessible litter, he’ll know what it’s for.


Most cat owners want to place the litter box in an out-of-the-way place in order minimize odor and loose particles of cat litter tracked around the house. Often, the litter box may end up in the basement, possibly next to an appliance, on an unfinished, cold cement floor. This type of location may be undesirable from the cat’s point of view. First, if you have a young, small kitten, s/he may not be able to get down a long flight of steep stairs in time when s/he as to go to the bathroom – especially if s/he started out on the top floor a tri-level! Even adult cats new to a household may not at first remember where the box is located if it is in an area they seldom frequent. Secondly, cats may be startled while using the box if a furnace or washer/dryer suddenly comes on, that may be the last time they’ll risk such a frightening experience! Lastly, some cats like to scratch the surface surrounding their litter box and may find a cold cement floor unappealing. So you may have to compromise. The box should be kept in a location which affords the cat some privacy, but is also conveniently located. If you place the box in a closet, be sure the door is wedged open from both sides in order to prevent your cat from being trapped in or out. If the box sits on a smooth, slick or cold surface, consider putting a small throw rug underneath the box.


Research has shown that most cats prefer fine grained litters, presumably because they have a softer feel. The new clumping litters are usually finer grained than the typical clay litter. However, high quality, dust-free clay litters are relatively small-grained and may be perfectly acceptable. Potting soil also has a very soft texture but is not very absorbent. If you suspect your cat had an outdoor history, or is likely to eliminate in your houseplants, you can try mixing some potting soil with your regular litter. Pellet-type litters or those made from citrus peels are not recommended. Once you find a litter your cat likes, don’t change types or brands. Buying generic, the least expensive, or whatever brand is on sale may result in litter box problems. Some cat litters were developed more with the owner’s needs rather than the cat’s needs in mind. Many cats are put off by the odor of scented or deodorant litters. For the same reason, it is not a good idea to place a room deodorizer or air freshener near the litter box. A thin layer of baking soda can be placed on the bottom of the box to help absorb odors without repelling the cat. More importantly, if the litter box is kept clean, odor should not be a problem.


Some owners are under the impression that the more litter they put in the box, the less often they will have to clean it. NOT TRUE!!! When wild cats eliminate outside, they generally choose an area that has a few loose particles of dirt or other material in which they can make a small scrape. They generally DO NOT choose areas where they “sink in” to several inches of dirt. Most domestic cats will not like litter that is more than about 2 inches deep. In fact, some cats, particularly some long-haired cats, may actually prefer less litter and a smooth, slick surface such as the bottom of the litter box. The box MUST be cleaned on a regular basis, and adding extra litter is not a way around that chore.


A good guideline is to have at least as many boxes as you have cats. That way, no cat can be prevented from using the box because it is already occupied. You might also consider placing the boxes in several locations around the house, so that no one cat can “guard” the litter box area and prevent other cats from accessing it. In general, it is not possible to designate a personal, unique box for each cat in the household. Cats will often use any and all litter boxes available. Occasionally a cat will refuse to use the box after another cat. In this case, all boxes will need to the kept extremely clean, and extra boxes may be needed.


Many cats will not show any preference for a covered versus an uncovered box. However, if you have a very large cat, a covered box may not allow him sufficient room to turn around, scratch and dig, and position himself in the way he wants. A covered box may also make it easier for another cat to lay in wait and “ambush” the user as s/he exits the box. On the other hand, a covered box tends to provide more privacy and may be preferred by timid, shy cats. You may need to experiment, and offer both types at first to discover what your cat prefers. If you do not wish to purchase a cover, you can make one from an upside-down cardboard box with the flaps on one side cut away.


Litter boxes must be kept consistently clean. To meet the needs of the most discriminating cat, feces should be scooped out of the box daily. How often you change the litter depends on the number of cats and the number of boxes you have. Twice a week is a general guideline, but depending on the circumstances, the litter may need to be changed every other day or only once a week. If you notice an odor to the box or if much of the litter is wet or clumped, it’s probably more than time for a change.

Do not use strong smelling chemicals or cleaning products when washing the box. The smell of vinegar, bleach, or pine cleaners may cause your cat to avoid the box. Washing with soap and water should be sufficient.


Some cats don’t mind having a liner in the box, while others do. You may need to experiment again to see if your cat is bothered by a liner in the box. If you do use a liner, make sure it is anchored in place well so it can not easily catch your cat’s claws or be pulled down into the litter.


If your cat stops using the litter box your first call should always be to your veterinarian. Many medical conditions can cause a change in litter box habits and these possibilities must be considered first. If your veterinarian determines you cat is healthy, the cause may be behavioral. Most litter box behavior problems can be resoled using behavior modification techniques. PUNISHMENT IS NOT THE ANSWER! For more assistance, contact a professional animal behaviorist who is knowledgeable about and experienced in working with cats.


Invisible urine odors in carpet attract pets to repeatedly re-urinate on those affected areas. This makes housebreaking very difficult, if not impossible.


Special Pheromone sprays and vaporizers have been developed by researchers that greatly reduce a cat’s desire to urinate and spray in an area . Contact your veterinarian for these special pheromone products


House soiling is one of the most common behavior problems in cats. It is normal for cats to have surface and location preferences for where and on what they like to eliminate. It’s only when these preferences include the laundry basket, the bed, or the Persian rug that these normal behaviors become problems. With careful analysis of the cat’s environment, specific factors can usually be identified which have contributed to the litter box problem.


Cats don’t stop using the litter box because they are mad or upset and are trying to get revenge for something that “offended” or “angered them” – the is a myth. Because humans act for these reasons, it is easy to assume that cats do as well. But cats, or other animals, do not act out of spite or revenge, so it won’t help to give your cat special privileges and hope she’ll start using the box again. If you’ve had your cat declawed, that is not likely to be the cause of the problem either. Studies show that declawed cats are no more likely to have litter box problems (or to bite) than are cats with their claws. “Stress” (a term that has many meanings) is not often the reason a cat stops using the litter box. If stress is involved, you should see other behavioral or physical changes as well, such as, weight loss, fearful behavior, or changes in eating or sleeping habits. Punishment is not a way to resolve a litter box problem. First, check with your veterinarian. Health problems can cause litter box problems. Cats don’t always act sick, even when they are. Only a trip to the veterinarian for a thorough physical exam, which may include a urinalysis and often bladder radiographs or ultrasound images, can rule out a medical problem.


If your cat is given a clean bill of health by your veterinarian, the next step is to determine whether your cat is spraying or urinating outside the box. Spraying is urine marking behavior, and is a cat’s way of indicating ownership of her territory. Marking is triggered by the presence of other cats. It can occur because neighborhood cats are “hanging around” outside, or because of conflicts between cats in a multi-cat household. Unfamiliar objects, smells, or people in the house can also cause the behavior. Spraying has nothing to do with litter box habits. When a cat sprays, she stands up, backs up against a vertical surface and deposits urine at “cat height” against curtains, doors, walls, furniture, etc.. Her tail may quiver and she may alternately lift her hind feet while she sprays. Male or female, spayed or neutered cats of any age may spray, although the behavior is more common in unaltered males.

Spraying problems can be drastically reduced or even completely resolved by:

Spaying or neutering any unaltered cats in the household.

Discouraging the presence of neighborhood cats. Try blocking off windows from where your cat can see neighborhood cats. Discourage their presence with aversive odors.

Resolving conflicts between cats in the household. If family cats are fighting or skirmishing with each other, you’ll need to help them get along better. Make sure good things happen to each of them in the presence of the other. Punishing the cats is likely to make the problem worse. You may need to separate them temporarily while working on the problem.

Talking to your veterinarian about possible short-term anti-anxiety drug therapy.

Make the sprayed areas less attractive using techniques described below:


If you are finding puddles of urine or feces on the floor, then your cat is choosing not to eliminate in the litter box. The most common reasons why cats stop using the litter box are an aversion to the box, surface preferences, location preferences, or a combination of all three. You’ll need to do some detective work to determine the reason for your cat’s change in behavior.


This means that your cat has decided that the litter box is an unpleasant place to be. The box may not be clean enough for her, she may have experienced painful urination or defection in the box, she may have been startled by a noise while using the box, or perhaps she has been “ambushed” while in the box by either another cat, a child, a dog, or even by you if you were attempting to catch her for some reason. This kind of an aversion may require you to completely replace the litter box so it no longer reminds your cat of unpleasant experiences. You may need to buy a new box, put it in a new location and use a different type of litter. Remember to keep the box clean – scoop out feces ever day, and completely change the litter anywhere from every three days to once a week.


All animals develop preferences for where they like to eliminate. These preferences may be established early in life, but they may also change overnight for reasons that we don’t always understand. If your cat often reaches out and scratches the carpet after she uses the box, she may come to prefer to use the carpet instead of the litter box. Many cats seem to develop a preference for either soft surfaces such as piles of clothes or the bed, while others may prefer slick surfaces such as the bathtub or the kitchen sink. Cats with an outdoor history may prefer dirt or grass. To resolve a surface preference problem, the material in the litter box needs to be made less attractive. For example for a soft-surface preference, try the new fine-grained, clumping litter. If your cat has been using the bathtub give her a slick surface in the litter box by placing very little if any litter in the box. If your cat has been outside, try generic potting soil in the box.


Your cat may decide that she likes to eliminate in a particular location. Maybe her preference is for a quiet, protected place such as under a desk downstairs, or in the closet. She may like to go in location where the litter box was previously kept, or maybe where a particular odor is located. Location preferences can be dealt with by moving the box to the preferred location, leaving it there until your cat uses it consistently for several week, and then VERY GRADUALLY moving it back to where you want it to be. If your cat does not use the box when you move it, then it is not a location preference problem.


Soiled areas can be made less attractive by cleaning them. Be sure you REMOVE all of the urine out of the carpet in the soiled areas, don’t just cover the urine up with odor masking products. Your veterinarian has special sprays which dissolve the chemicals that cause cat urine odors.


Clean the areas thoroughly. Make the carpet or soiled surfaces less attractive by covering them with double-sided sticky tape, plastic, or a vinyl carpet runner with the point side up. Give the areas an unpleasant smell by spraying the plastic, or vinyl carpet runner with No-P Housebreaking Aid. When sprayed on the soiled area, NO-P Housebreaking Aid will eliminate the urine scent so your pet will not re-urinate in that area.

We strongly advice that you REMOVE the urinated areas in your carpet using a DRY capture technique. This will allow you to REMOVE the old urine (and stains or odors) deep in the carpet, WITHOUT causing the urine to penetrate deeper into your carpet and padding. After you have treated these areas and REMOVED the old urine (and stains or odors), you may THEN have your carpets professionally cleaned by alternative carpet cleaning methods.

An Important Update From Animal & Bird Medical Center On COVID-19

We are committed to offering a safe and healthy environment for our clients, pets and hospital team here at Animal and Bird Medical Center. The best way to avoid becoming ill is to avoid exposure to the virus. Taking typical preventive actions is key.

In being cautious and mindful of everyone’s safety, we are actively working to minimize your exposure to crowded exam rooms and long waits in the lobby.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some changes to our protocols in-hospital for the time-being…

In order to limit exposure while still providing quality care for your pet, we will be implementing special protocols to keep you safe.

We will have our veterinary technicians get a history of the patient’s symptoms and owner’s concerns via phone prior to coming into the clinic.

Our goal is for you to be able to bring your pet in for medical care but have no risk for you or our dedicated staff of transmitting the COVID-19 virus.

The Doctors and staff are dedicated to making sure your pet’s medical needs are taken care of during this national crisis.

We can still fill prescriptions for pick up, however, for those who prefer, non-narcotic and non-urgent prescriptions can be mailed to your home.

As always, careful hand-washing and other infection control practices can greatly reduce the chance of spreading any disease.