Ask the Vet: Tips to Prevent Pets from Urinating on Furniture

| May 6, 2012

Dr. Lauren - Ask the VetDr. Lauren, a local veterinarian, answers user questions about pet health.

My Retired Racing Greyhound eats a grain-free kibble, gets no table scraps, and even his treats are grain free. He doesn’t get into the garbage or anything else that he’s not supposed to have. The problem is that he occasionally will get very gassy and have a bloody diarrhea. It will only last one or two bowel movements, and it only happens once every 2 months or so. What could be causing this? Maybe hook or whip worms?
Rachel W.

There are many causes for what you describe. It is important to visit your veterinarian to perform an in depth history, physical exam, and diagnostic plan for your greyhound.  Some of the main causes of diarrhea include dietary intolerance or food allergy, bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection (such as hookworms or whipworms as you mentioned), and inflammatory bowel disease among others.

Since your pet has had episodes of diarrhea for longer than a month, a complete search for the actual cause should be taken. The first step is to run a basic database. This should include blood chemistry, a white and red cell profile (a CBC), and at least one fecal test for parasites. A fecal smear or cytology test where the bacteria of the stool sample (as opposed to worm content) may be examined microscopically can help rule out pathogenic bacteria that can cause colitis (especially Clostridial organisms).

In dogs, whipworms are difficult to confirm by fecal floatation testing (this test detects worm eggs and whipworms only periodically release their eggs). It may be prudent to deworm the dog with a broad-spectrum dewormer prescribed by your veterinarian and see if the problem resolves. In addition, a course of medication may be prescribed and/or a new diet may be recommended as a trial.

Diarrhea can also result from a food intolerance (like lactose intolerance in people). Intolerances can result from dyes, preservatives, contaminants or even natural proteins in the food.  Similarly, colitis can result from an actual food allergy. The most common offending allergens are beef, chicken, milk, eggs, corn, wheat, and soy. Beef is the most common. The solution for these intolerances is the feeding a “pure” diet, ideally a diet with proteins that are novel or new to the patient. An 8 to 10 week diet course is typically needed and no other chews or treats can be eaten during the trial.  At this time, response to elimination diet is the only test for food allergy or intolerance.  Several novel protein diets and hydrolyzed protein diets have been developed. For more details on using an elimination diet, please visit your veterinarian.

I have a 4 year old female cat, spayed and de-clawed. she was a very friendly kitten before she was spayed then she changed and would not let you hold her or even pet her. She will rub you only on her terms. She will play (loves to play with the catnip toys on strings) and chase a laser light and she will sleep on the bottom of the bed with us. If you go to pet her, she is outta there, but that is the only one on one time we get with her. My main question is for the past 2 to 3 years my cat will jump onto the furniture or bed and pee on it. She uses the litter box all the time and it is kept clean, but it seems that about once or twice a month she will pee on my furniture or bed. I have had to throw furniture away because of the smell. It is hard to get rid of. Wat can i do to keep her from peeing on my furniture? I took her to the vet for this and he told me it was probable the Purina cat food I fed her causing a UTI and she would lose hair on her back end. We change cat food  (Meow mix) and it seem to stop but then she did it again. She doesn’t have any problems going to the bathroom or seem to go to often…She has always been an indoor cat but my vet told me to just let her outside and she can defend herself even though she is de-clawed. I am not fond of the idea to put her out, but if i cant find a solution to this problem, I may have to. Can you give me a suggestion on what to do to keep her from peeing on my furniture?

House soiling is the number one behavior problem of our feline friends and the main reason cats are relinquished to shelters, turned outside, or even put to sleep.  I would advise against turning a de-clawed cat outside, as they are not fully equipped to defend themselves.  There are many strategies for promoting normal litter box habits and a thorough workup and sometimes trial and error are used to identify the underlying cause and alleviate the problem.

Urinating in odd places can mean either a behavior problem or a medical problem and sometimes the difference is not clear-cut. Cats often urinate in unusual places to get their owner’s attention when they are feeling unwell. Further, cats often urinate in unusual places in an effort to reassert their claim to territory, this need often arising from psychological stress and this stress can easily lead to a disease state called feline lower urinary tract disease. Some cats have purely behavioral motivations without illness. Some cats simply have litter box aversion.

Your veterinarian should perform a thorough history and physical exam as well as a urinalysis and bloodwork to rule out medical causes such as infection, kidney disease, bladder stones, and diabetes.  Once medical causes are ruled out, behavioral assessment and therapy can be initiated to reduce anxiety in your cat and promote normal litterbox behavior.

Cats can mark their territory by urinating and defecating in areas that they wish to claim. Psychological stress, such as the presence of other cats, prolonged absence of the owner (who is usually viewed as a parent by the pet cat), or other problems may create a need for a cat to reassert a territorial claim. Anti-anxiety medications may be tremendously helpful if the source of stress cannot be identified or cannot be altered. Odor eliminators should be used in marked areas to discourage the cat’s tendency to return to these areas.  Feliway is another common treatment available in the approach to territorial marking. Feliway contains facial pheromones have a general calming effect that help neutralize the urge to urine mark.  It is available as a spray and a plug-in diffuser that spreads pheromones through the room.  Please see your veterinarian to discuss the strategies that are best for your cat and household



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Dr. Lauren, a native of Knox, PA, practices in a busy animal hospital in Butler, PA. She received her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2005 and her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. Dr. Lauren treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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