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The smell of cat urine is awful for anyone to experience. If your cat has a perfectly good litter box he ignores, and he instead urinates on the carpet, furniture, or bedding, it adds insult to injury. Between the constant cleaning and the strong smell that will permeate your entire home, a cat that is not using the litter box properly can be a source of frustration. But why do cats pee outside of their litter boxes and what can you do about it? Here are some common causes of litter box problems for many cats:
The first step is identifying if this is a cat urination problem or if your cat is spraying to mark his territory. Territorial marking can occur in altered cats. If you identify that your cat is territorial marking, you can learn how to stop this behavior by visiting our “Why Do Pets Spray” blog.
Underlying medical issues can be a cause of your cat urinating outside the litter box. A likely culprit is a urinary tract infection, but it can also be kidney disease, diabetes, or anything that causes your cat to feel uncomfortable, such as arthritis. A change in how your cat feels can drastically alter his behavior, and where he urinates is no exception to this. The best way to assess if medical issues are present is to take your cat to your full service veterinarian to run a few blood and urine tests.
The state or quality of the litter in the box is often the cause of out-of-box urination. A litter box that is not cleaned regularly, especially in a multi cat household, can turn a cat off from visiting his litter box. He may instead choose a more pleasant place to go, such as on the living room carpet. We recommend cleaning the litter box every day, especially if you have multiple cats.
The litter box could also just be difficult or inconvenient for your cat to reach. Keeping the litter box too far away from social rooms or in deeply secluded rooms can make the box hard to find or unappealing to your cat. You also want to avoid keeping your cat’s litter box near any loud machines that are often active, such as a washing machine. Try instead placing the box in a nearby hallway, bathroom, or office with easy access to a garbage can. The proper litter box set up will offer your cat privacy and peace, but it must still be easy for your cat to find.
Cats living in multi-cat households are more likely to urinate outside the litter box. This often occurs when one cat bullies another cat and prevents him from getting to the litter box. The easiest way to address this is to simply have multiple litter boxes in your home and place them in separate rooms.
We hope you find this information useful in both identifying the cause of out-of-box urination, but also putting a stop to it. With a little bit of time and energy, you’ll restore harmony to your home and stop your cat from peeing outside of the box.READ MORE
Spraying or territorial marking is a fairly common and sometimes destructive practice for our canine and feline friends. The common misconception is that the only reason a dog or cat marks his territory is for reproductive reasons, but this is not always the case. Understanding why your pet is marking his territory may help you better understand your pet, his behavior and how to handle this troublesome issue.
Some male dogs will mark when they encounter non-resident dogs in their environment. This may include your home, yard, walking route, a friend’s home, park or other commonly visited location. Dogs may also mark when they encounter a specific social trigger. These triggers can include: an in-heat female dog, another male dog, an environment where other dogs have previously marked, or you’re your pet has become overstimulated in a social situation.
Most cat lovers are aware that un-neutered male cats will spray urine on walls, furniture, and elsewhere to mark their territory. But many pet parents are surprised when males that are “fixed” will also spray, or when female cats—spayed and un-spayed—exhibit this same noxious behavior. Unfortunately, cats can also spray because of underlying medical conditions, litter box issues, or anxiety.
Dogs and cats, both male and female, will most commonly mark if they are reproductively intact to signal to potential mates. For this reason, many pet owners come to the conclusion that spaying and neutering their pet will eliminate this behavior. Unfortunately, even altered pets still will find reasons to mark or spray. While spaying and neutering may reduce this tendency, it is not a 100% surefire fix. Spaying and neutering dogs and cats does help reduce the urge to mark or spray for reproductive reasons; however, if your pet continues to mark or spray, further investigation is required.
Pets may be spraying for a single reason or for several at once. If your dog seems to be marking out of habit, you will simply need to retrain this behavior. This will entail watching him constantly. When he lifts his leg to mark, interrupt him verbally then take him outside and encourage him to mark his territory outside rather than inside. It is also essential to clean any areas that he has already marked with a disinfecting and deodorizing cleaner, this will discourage the habit of refreshing their old marks.
The main reason cats mark is due to anxiety. This anxiety can come from another pet that is “bullying” the cat that is spraying, outdoor cats encroaching on your cat’s territory by jumping up on windowsills, changes in routine, or anxiety caused by the condition of your cat’s litter box.
Spraying and marking may be an obnoxious behavior, but it does not have to be an ongoing problem. The best solution is to stop the behavior before it starts, which means bringing your pet in for his sterilization as early as possible. At TCAP, our veterinary team can spay/ neuter a pet so long as he is over 2lbs and over 10 weeks of age. To learn more about TCAP’s spay and neuter program visit: https://www.texasforthem.org/services/spay-neuter/ or call (940) 566-5551 to schedule your pet’s appointment today.READ MORE
Dogs are fun, and one of their best traits is their enthusiasm and desire to show you how much they love you. If we are not careful, however, we can turn that excitement into bad habits by reinforcing the wrong behavior. Fortunately, if your dog exhibits either of these behaviors, they can easily be redirected.
Have you ever had a nice relaxing moment pierced by the sound of barking dog, or even worse, barking that seems to have no reason or end? As owners, our knee-jerk reaction is to call our dog over to us to calm him down. However, this is where we make our first mistake. When we respond by giving him attention, we reward his behavior of barking.
If you want to curb your dog’s barking behavior, don’t react. Instead, try to identify the trigger and downplay its impact. Outside sounds such as trains or other dogs barking can often be the culprit. You can counteract this with white noise machines, the TV, or static on the radio. Or you can keep the dog in a part of your home where he won’t hear those sounds, such as a back bedroom. This may be a good plan if neighbors complain about barking while you’re gone.
Another strategy is to give your dog something to do that he can’t do at the same time as barking. You can fill food puzzles with treats that a dog may work for hours to retrieve. With these toys, your dog is not only entertained, but he also is unable to bark.
Jumping on you and your guests entering your home is bad behavior. While your first response might be to pet your dog and push her off you, paying her any attention at all says “good dog.” Physical interaction, even pushing her off, is enough to encourage this behavior. Instead, try to stand straight as a rod, look forward, and say ‘no’ or turn your back to them when they jump. This shows that that you do not respond to her jumping by giving her attention. Remember, even eye contact is a reward.
If your dog will sit on command, ignore the jumping and say only “no” and “sit.” When the dog sits, you can pet her. She will learn that the way to get attention is by sitting and eventually she will know to sit by herself. This change should not take very long if you’re consistent. Even when visitors come, someone has to be there to tell the dog to sit.
Once you have used these tips, we invite you to bring your newly well-mannered pup to a TCAP clinic during our walk-in vaccine hours to show off his good behavior.READ MORE
Texas winters are unpredictable! When the temperature drops this winter, it is important to keep your pets safe and comfortable. We’ve listed some of the most common factors that you need to consider in the coming months:
A pet’s cold tolerance can vary based on their physical characteristics, such as the length of their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and general health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but they are still at risk if left in the cold for an extended period of time. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.
Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but this is untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside whenever possible. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. If your pet must be outdoors for any length of time, he must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter. Be sure that it is large enough to allow him to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. Cats should not be left outdoors without shelter for extended periods, even if they roam outside during other seasons.
Because pets are more prone to be disoriented by cold weather (especially snow), it is a good idea to make certain that their microchip and ID tag information are up-to-date. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip or engraved ID tag, TCAP provides those services during our walk-in vaccine hours. You can check out our online calendar to see when you can bring your pet by a TCAP location anytime at: https://www.texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.READ MORE
At TCAP, we see an alarming number of pets over their breed’s ideal weight ranges. However, this is not simply a problem that faces North Texas pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of dogs and cats (approximately 89 million pets) in the United States are overweight or obese. A pet that weighs more than their healthy weight puts him at risk for developing serious illness, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, liver problems, digestive problems, or joint deterioration.
Addressing this problem starts by first determining if your pet is at a healthy weight. You should be able to see and feel the outline of your dog’s ribs without excess fat covering, feel and see your dog’s waist clearly when viewed from above, and you should be able to see that your dog’s belly is tucked up when viewed from the side. For cats, you need to be able to see and feel your cat’s ribs, spine, and hip bones, his waist should be clearly visible when viewed from above, and his belly shouldn’t be sagging underneath. If your pet does not fit the frame of an ideal weight, then it may be time to identify the cause and address the issue to ensure your pet’s long term health.
While there are several causes of obesity in pets, the most common is a simple imbalance between a pet’s energy usage and calorie intake. The most common factors that lead to this imbalance are a lack of exercise, overfeeding, feeding pets high-calorie foods (human food), or frequent treats. Pets do not understand the importance of diet and exercise, so it is up to us, the owners, to make sure they have what they need to live happy and healthy lives.
Treatment for obesity is focused on weight loss and maintaining a decreased body weight for the long term. This is accomplished by reducing caloric intake and increasing your dog’s time spent exercising. Much of this will require making time to ensure that your pet is getting the exercise they need through extra walks or more regular play time. It will also be important to remain conscious of the food your pet is consuming. This means giving no handouts at the table, following the recommended portions listed on your pets’ food bag, and setting a limit on the number of treats your pet can receive in a day/week. Then you can move on to the most difficult part, staying consistent with your pets adjusted feeding habits.
Taking these steps will require discipline for both you and your pet. While the changes in diet may bring around some extra begging, the increased exercise and improved long-term health will be sure to improve your pet’s overall happiness.READ MORE
It’s holiday season and they are coming to your home: strangers, friends, and family alike. Whether your dog views guests as untrustworthy intruders or as their new best friend, it is important that you take preventative steps to ensure that you, your guests and your dogs stay safe.
It may have been years since your dog has seen some of those that will visit your home in the coming months, or perhaps they have never met them. How will your dog react to the sudden increase in activity and guests that the holidays bring? Sometimes adjusting to these events can be difficult for your dog, so our team has assembled a few tips to help reduce holiday stress for both your dog and your guests.
It is important that your dog has a basic grasp on how to mind his manners and how to follow your commands. Even if you are pressed for time, you can still fit in a few short training sessions every day, and you will be surprised at how fast Fido can improve. Working commands into your routine is another great way to improve your dog’s obedience and flexibility in obeying commands. For example, you can use the “stay” command while cooking in kitchen or work on the “sit” and “down” commands while in the living room. Practicing commands in the environments you will be using them when you have guests will also help hardwire your pet’s brain and help them be more inclined to follow commands even when there is the distraction of guests around. As always, be patient, be consistent, and be positive in your training to achieve amazing results.
Training may not be enough to keep your dog comfortable. If that is the case, you can focus your dog’s attention and energy in other areas to help keep him relaxed.
Keep your dog comfortable— If you know your dog doesn’t care for guests, have a crate ready for him in a quiet spot, such as bedroom with a closed door. Alternatively, keep him in a place where he can feel comfortable and not interact with guests, such as a bedroom, laundry room or other area that is closed off with a door or baby gate. Never allow people to interact with your dog if the dog isn’t comfortable, as this can increase the anxiety he is feeling.
Provide distractions— Have a variety of items ready for your dog, to occupy his time, while you visit with your guests. This can include food stuffed toys or puzzles, bones, chews, chew sticks and toys. Always give your dog an item such as this in a safe place and supervise any interaction if children will be visiting.
Exercise, exercise, exercise— You cannot exercise your dog enough during these busy times. As the saying goes, “A good dog is a tired dog.” The more physical exercise your dog gets, the less rambunctious when people come to visit, and there’s a good chance after greeting guests he’ll be more than happy to crawl up on his bed or crate and take a nap.
With these simple steps, your busy holiday season is sure to be less stressful for you and your precious pup. Happy holidays from your friends at TCAP, and here’s wishing you successful training sessions that result in a more relaxed, well-mannered pooch that all your friends and family will enjoy!READ MORE
Socialization is an essential, yet often overlooked part of a puppy’s development. Without it, your puppy can become evasive or even hostile towards the people and other pets that she encounters. Puppies have an important stage of development in their early lives where they absorb experiences and catalog what sounds, smells, and experiences can be considered “safe” and which ones are “scary”. At TCAP, we see puppy owners who range from socialization experts to those who are completely unaware of the concept and its importance to their puppy. Today, we hope to provide a few easy techniques to ensure that your puppy grows into a behaviorally healthy adult.
The quick answer is as soon as it is safe to do so for your pet. You should introduce your puppy to vetted dogs as well as friends and family as soon as you can. Experts say that the important stage to socialize a puppy ends as early as 12-16 weeks. Once they age beyond this stage, their reactions towards unfamiliar pets and people begin to solidify. Often, unsocialized pets will either cower or attempt to lunge towards new people and pets. The more you can train your puppy to view new experiences as fun, the easier it will be to train them and introduce her to strangers she meets later in life.
If your puppy has not received her three complete rounds of puppy vaccines then it is not yet safe to bring her to public venues like dog parks. However, if you have friends with fully vaccinated pets, they would serve as a good starting point. If you are looking for how to time your puppy’s vaccine visits, check out TCAP’s handy Pet Vaccine Guide.
Take your puppy out into the world–by car, in your arms, or in a child’s wagon if she’s too heavy to carry. Take her to a mall, to a hardware store, to the bus station, or to a train station. Step into a TCAP lobby during our walk-in vaccine hours and out again. Visit a park, farm, construction site, and a police station. Encourage her to scramble among rocks and logs. Let her experience many surfaces underfoot, from grass to concrete to leaves to metal gratings. Teach her to use stairs, starting from the lowest step and working your way up till she can navigate a whole staircase comfortably, up and down. The more diverse and positive experiences she has, the better.
Many dogs are afraid of unfamiliar sounds. Make sure your pup hears police sirens, fire trucks, birdsong, music, rolling steel gates, obnoxious ringtones, and doorbells. Gunfire and similar sharp, cracking sounds are often culprits in dog phobias. You can easily download free recordings from the internet and play them as background music on occasion to help familiarize your puppy with the potentially scary sounds of the world in the safety of her home.
Follow these steps while supporting your puppy with praise and treats to help her associate new experiences as something good rather than something to fear. Socializing your puppy does not remove the need for training, however, it will make training considerably easier and she will be more inclined to stick to her training in unfamiliar environments.READ MORE
Do you plan on getting your pet into the spirit of Halloween this year? Halloween can be a spooky night, but that does not mean it has to be scary for your pet. We have a few safety tips to help keep your pet safe and spook-free.
It is very important to avoid giving your pets any Halloween candy. Chocolate, in any form, is toxic for both dogs and cats, especially dark or baking chocolate. Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure in dogs. Make sure your candy bowl stays out of reach and let everyone in your family know that the candy is for humans only (exceptions can be made for humans dressed as aliens, ghouls, robots, etc.).
Pet costumes can be highly entertaining for owners, but our furry friends may not always agree. It is recommended that you make certain if your pet likes wearing a costume before making them wear one for extended periods of time. If you have a costume you wish to use, test it out with your pet before the big day. If your pet doesn’t mind getting into the Halloween spirit, make certain that the costume fits them well without restricting their movement or ability to breathe. On the other hand, if your pet isn’t a fan of dressing up – don’t force it. Bandanas or other mild collar accessories tend to serve as a great compromise.
It is important to keep your pet confined indoors on Halloween. Unfortunately, there are typically a few pranksters each year that can take the spirit of Halloween too far and, on occasion, pets can be on the receiving end of these pranks. Just as importantly, if you chose to stay home and greet trick-or-treaters your pet can feel threatened by the continuous barrage of strangers approaching your home. The best thing to prevent your pet from bolting out the front door is to keep them confined in a side room.
Halloween may be all about shrouding your identity in the visage of a creepy creature, but that does not mean your “creature” should hide their identity as well. Due to the stress caused by meeting too many strangers, it is advised to keep your pet at home during this holiday.
If you are handing out candy this year, you will be opening your door to a large quantity of people. While opening the door for eager trick-or-treaters, be certain your pet does not dash outside. A microchip and ID tag will drastically increase your pet’s chances of returning home should you ever get separated from him.
TCAP offers low cost microchipping for $30 on a walk-in basis during our vaccine hours at all locations. If your pet is already microchipped, you can double your pet’s safety this holiday by getting them an engraved ID tag. You may purchase an ID tag online and have it delivered to your home in time for Halloween here: http://store.texasforthem.org/id-tags.htmlREAD MORE
At TCAP, we love cats! We have compiled a list of our favorite feline facts. Check them out and it may help you understand your cat’s needs a little bit better and improve your bond with them.
We know that common housecats derived from their wild ancestors. This genetic lineage began in the Fertile Crescent (Western Asia) somewhere between 10,000 to 12,000 years ago when humans in the region started farming. Evidence shows that farmers were likely the first to domesticate wildcats because of their usefulness in hunting mice and other pests that plagued farms in early human settlements.
We have a few famous cat-based sayings. Ever wonder where they come from? The phrase “let the cat out of the bag”, in other words, to “reveal a secret”, seems to stem from Europe in the late 18th century. While no exact origin has been officially settled upon, several theories indicate that this phrase came from traders at a market cheating their customers by claiming to sell a certain type of animals such as piglets or hares, but instead sell them a feral cat. In these times, these animals would be transported in burlap sacks. These customers were instructed not to open the bag containing the animal they purchased until they got home so as to not let it get loose. However, when they got home they would “let the cat out of the bag” and thus reveal the seller’s secret scam.
Ever wonder how your cat can sleep so much? On average, cats spend around 15 hours of every day sleeping. There are a couple of factors that lead to this amazing phenomenon. Cats are crepuscular, which means that they are most active around dawn and dusk. They tend to lay low during the darkest time of night and brightest time of day. This cycle is based on instinct passed down from your cat’s wild ancestors. Cats also spend a large chunk of their shut eye in a light sleep in order to be most responsive to danger should it arise. Cats can experience deep sleep as well, but it usually only lasts for about 5 minutes at a time. Sleeping with one eye open may make it harder for your cat to get the most out of his rest, but it does allow him to be more responsive to his environment should a predator approach.
Cats have adapted their senses to make them highly efficient low-light predators. Cats have acute sight, hearing and smell, and their sense of touch is enhanced by long whiskers that protrude from their heads. The shape and biology of cats’ eyes give the cat a minimum light detection threshold up to seven times lower than that of humans. Humans and cats have a similar range of hearing on the low end of the scale, but cats can hear much higher-pitched sounds, up to 64 kHz, which is 1.6 octaves above the range of a human, and even 1 octave above the range of a dog.
There are more than 500 million domestic cats in the world, with approximately 40 recognized breeds. The largest domesticated breed is known as a Maine Coon which can weigh anywhere between 15-25lbs on average. The smallest cat breed is known as the Singapura with most cats of this breed only reaching half the size of an average cat.
Thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine and nutrition, the housecat’s life expectancy has improved from 7 years in the early 80’s to about 12-15 years today. However, the oldest cat on record is named “Crème Puff” from Austin, Texas. Crème Puff lived from 1967 to August 6, 2005, three days after her 38th birthday.
We at TCAP want to meet your fascinating feline! If you cat needs an update on vaccines, flea medication, or a variety of other walk-in services, come by a walk-in TCAP location available throughout DFW Monday-Saturday. To find our hours and locations, visit our vaccine event calendar: https://www.texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.READ MORE
Dental care is an often-overlooked aspect of the average pet’s health plan, but it is just as important as your own dental health. Proper and consistent dental care can add three to five years to a pet’s life.
One easy way to determine if your pet needs dental care is his breath. Plaque and tartar will form when food remains in the space between his teeth and causes periodontal disease, an infection of the gum tissue caused by bacteria. This infection and bacteria are often the cause of very bad breath. In fact, periodontal disease is so common that approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of it by the age of three. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to more serious problems including heart, lung, and kidney disease. However, this disease can be prevented and treated. The keys to your pet’s oral health are professional veterinary dental care and attentive home care.
TCAP recommends regular dental cleaning on an annual basis when a pet reaches three years of age. TCAP uses light anesthesia to keep pets asleep during the procedure that includes techniques and tools similar to your own dentist. During a TCAP dental cleaning, your pet’s teeth will receive a supragingival cleaning (cleaning above the gum line), subgingival cleaning (cleaning under the gum line), polishing, antibacterial or saline flush, and fluoride treatment. These steps clean your pet’s teeth, remove and prevent plaque, and harden your pet’s teeth to help protect them in the future.
The subgingival cleaning or cleaning below the gum line removes subgingival plaque and calculus which are the causes of periodontal disease. Subgingival cleaning is not possible through home remedies so it is recommended that you have your pet’s teeth cleaned even if they receive regular brushing or teeth-cleaning toys/snacks.
Periodontal disease is caused by the natural accumulation of plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. Canned food is more likely to stick to your pet’s teeth thus creating a greater chance for plaque to form so avoid feeding this to your pets on a regular basis. Early on, plaque is soft and brushing your pet’s teeth or chewing hard food, toys, or dental care treats can remove it. However, if the early stages of plaque are left untreated, it can lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis causes gum inflammation which will cause swelling, redness, and pain. Breaking the build-up of plaque is the key to heading off this problem before it starts. TCAP offers CET oral hygiene kits which give you the basic tools necessary to fight your pet’s plaque at home on a daily basis.
Other dental and oral health tools (such as toys and treats) are commonly available in a variety of pet supply stores. If you wish to have your pet’s teeth cleaned at your local TCAP facility, you may Request an Appointment online or call (940) 566-5551.READ MORE