Apr 24 2014

Pet’s in your home: common problems, issues AND solutions!

1. Inappropriate urination in cats: Some cats will urinate in the house due to medical issues. Infection or inflammation of the urinary tract or even kidney, liver or thyroid issues often lead to increased drinking and urination. Some cats with arthritis may be reluctant to use a litter box and even older cats that are becoming senile may urinate outside the box. There are also behavioral problems, such as litter box aversion or urine spraying that can lead to house soiling. Aversion usually means that there is something about the litter box that your cat dislikes. It may be in an inappropriate location such as a high traffic area, the box edges may be too high, the litter may be unsatisfactory in terms of sanitation, texture or smell. Urine spraying is the deposition of small amounts of urine around a given area. Spraying establishes or maintains boundaries and also has sexual connotations meaning hey, I’m available. They do not squat , rather they back into an area or object the tail lifts and quivers and they let the urine fly. Cats that are unneutered and from multi-cat households tend to spray more frequently. To address your cat’s spraying issue you must first make sure to neuter him. Outside cats may be to blame so motion detecting sprinklers, closing blinds and other tactics may be necessary. Address sources of frustration such as introducing new diets slowly, increasing playtime and solving disputes among house mate cats. The use of pheromone sprays and diffusers can help as well as spraying odor neutralizers on the urine marked areas. We have also had good success using oral liquid medications to control anxiety although this must be used in conjunction with the other methods that address environmental changes.

2. Is xylitol a threat to my dog? The common sugar substitute Xylitol can be deadly for pets. Xylitol is used in many human food products such as sugar free chewing gum, many types of candy and even dental products such as toothpaste. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and when ingested by dogs can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar which is caused by the rapid release of insulin. Signs of toxicity may appear in as little as 30 minutes and may include:

Depression ; Seizures; Coma; Vomiting; Weakness; Eventual liver dysfunction or failure

If you suspect that your pet may have ingested a product containing xylitol please contact your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may then advise you to induce vomiting if the xylitol containing product was very recently ingested.

3. Dogs chewing on household items: Does your Dog view many household items as a midafternoon or bedtime snack? Munching on table legs, baseboards, wooden decks, couches etc..is a common problem in many dog loving households. Some common sense advice is to not let Fido use a shoe or other everyday items as chew toys. I believe we are all aware of this. I also have a secret that an old time veterinarian, even older than me, taught me years ago. His two golden retrievers were eating his wooden deck to pieces so he took a minute amount of Tabasco sauce , placed it on a stick and let the dogs sniff and even give it a quick lick. The dogs recoiled in horror at the taste and smell and so he then proceeded to dab Tabasco on parts of his chewed deck and the dogs never chewed it again owing to their incredible sense of smell and apparent recall of a negative experience.

4. Does your dog have a bald spot on the “wrist” area or the front part of his lower front leg? This condition is called a lick granuloma or Acral lick dermatitis and is the direct result of excessive, chronic licking. The constant licking causes inflammation of the skin that may become thickened, raised and ulcerated. The area is itchy, the fur is removed and the itch-lick cycle continues. The act of licking may release endorphins similar to a runners high, however allergies, arthritis, skin mites, fungal infections and anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorders may also be to blame. In short there are numerous reasons why dogs develop these pesky lesions. The treatment of these lesions depends on the underlying cause as determined by your veterinarian. Antibiotics, anti- inflammatories, anti depressants or anti anxiety medications, Elizibethan collars or even skin biopsies are but a few of the treatment methods used.

5. Ingested foreign Bodies that have been surgically removed from a Dogs GI tract: some examples include plant bulbs, a polly pocket, coins, pencil erasers, a diaper, an eye from a stuffed animal, Christmas lights, a rubber chicken head, feminine hygiene products, and a spider man action figure. As you can imagine, the list is endless. If your pet has swallowed a foreign body you may observe listless behavior, persistent vomiting, anorexia, abdominal tenderness and pain. Call your veterinarian immediately and please do not wait to see if a particular ingested object will pass on its own.

6..Does your pet chew, itch, scratch, and lick his fur frequently? Do you see patchy areas of scabs, crusts, hair loss and inflamed or thickened skin? If so, then your pet most likely suffers from allergic dermatitis an extremely common condition that is frustrating for both pet’s and their owners. The typical underlying causes or allergens that incite your pet to scratch and dig are usually food, fleas or inhalants. Food allergies may be due to the consumption of human food or a commercial pet food or treats that their immune system does not agree with. Flea allergies are a direct result of an allergic reaction to a flea bite and the flea’s saliva. Inhalant allergies are usually due to pollens, mold spores or house dust mites. There is no cure for allergies but to minimize the likelihood that your pet may develop one we recommend the following;

-Feed your pet only a good quality pet food, no people food and good quality or no treats. Ask your veterinarian what they recommend.

- Flea control is very important. Even if you don’t see fleas we highly recommend treating every 30 days with a good quality product and year round treatment is recommended. In our moderate climate, fleas can survive year round. Again, ask your veterinarian which products they prefer.

Inhalant allergies: not much you can do except treat your pet based upon the clinical signs and symptoms that may develop. Some typical remedies that your veterinarian may discuss with you to treat your allergic pet and make him more comfortable include:

Antibiotics to clear up infection.  Antiinflammatories or antihistamines. Specific hypoallergenic pet foods. Medicated shampoo therapy. Flea control products. Topical anti-inflammatory sprays Immunomodulating drugs such as cyclosporine. Essential fatty acids inflammation and itching.

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