Has your dog or cat had random “accidents” (peeing or pooping) around the house? You should contact your veterinarian as this behavior can be a sign of a health condition.
Zazie Todd, author of Purring: The Science of Keeping Your Cat Happy and Wag: The science of making your dog happysaid news week: “Unfortunately, some people mistakenly assume their pet is doing it because they are naughty or out of spite.”
But it’s really important to see a vet because “you can’t tell by looking at your pet,” which could be the problem, she said.
Here, Todd and other pet experts explain why these accidents could be a sign of a serious health problem.
Reasons for pet accidents in the home
urinary tract infection
dr Lindsay Butzer, a veterinarian and spokeswoman for pet food supplement company Zesty Paws, said news week that a cat peeing out of its litter box can either be a behavioral problem or an underlying health condition.
Your first stop should be to see your veterinarian for a physical exam and urine test to rule out a medical condition. One of the most common medical explanations for accidents (especially in older cats) is a bacterial urinary tract infection, which can often be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a vet, Butzer said.
Vicki Jo Harrison, President of the International Cat Association, said: “Inflammation of the urinary tract can make urination painful and increase a cat’s frequency and urgency of urinating.”
According to Butzer, dogs with UTIs may urinate indoors or may feel uncomfortable or strain to urinate outside. When their urine is tested, there may be blood in it, which should alert owners to take the dog to the vet.
Other reasons can include bladder stones, idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), Butzer said.
If bladder stones are detected radiologically, the smaller ones can usually be dissolved with the help of a urinary care diet prescribed by the veterinarian. But larger stones may require a procedure called a cystotomy to remove them, she said.
Kidney, liver or thyroid problems
Butzer said cats urinating outside of the litter box could also be a sign of a metabolic disease (possibly diabetes causing cats to drink and urinate more) related to the kidneys, liver or thyroid. This can be determined by a blood test.
diarrhea and upset stomach
Butzer said dogs often have bouts of diarrhea, which shouldn’t be of much concern, especially if the dog is known to have a “garbage colon,” meaning they tend to eat anything.
However, if the diarrhea becomes frequent, uncontrollable, or comes in a different color than normal, there may be an underlying medical problem. Dogs with diarrhea may not be able to hold their poo and instead go indoors, she said.
Butzer explains that dog diarrhea can be caused by:
- Pancreatitis from idiopathic (unknown or spontaneous) causes or fatty meals.
- Stress colitis (inflammation of the colon).
- Intestinal parasites ingested by the grass.
- Cancer, in the “worst case scenario”.
Butzer said cats with an upset stomach or inflammatory bowel disease will cause diarrhea in the litter box. Sometimes frustrated cats suffering from diarrhea will defecate on sofas, beds or in the closet.
Harrison said that problems with the digestive tract can also make a cat’s bowel movements painful, increasing the frequency or urgency of bowel movements and reducing their ability to control them.
Harrison said that age-related diseases that affect a cat’s mobility or cognitive functions can affect their ability to get to the litter box on time.
Once medical causes have been ruled out, there are several behavioral issues that may play a role:
- Emphasize: Butzer said the stress of being in a new house or bringing new pets into the household can cause your cat to become upset and urinate outside of the litter box.
- The litter box is not clean enough. Butzer said: “It can be as simple as the box not being clean enough.” Cats like to keep their spaces tidy, and if their box isn’t being cleaned out frequently, they can go elsewhere.
- They don’t like the garbage. Cats may not agree with the size or smell of the litter, so trying different litters can solve the problem, Butzer advised.
- They don’t like the size or location of the litter box. In general, cats prefer larger, uncovered litter boxes that are in quiet spots away from their food and water, Butzer said.
- They don’t like the interface. Harrison said a cat may also avoid a litter box if there’s a particular surface (soft like carpet or clothing, or hard like a tiled floor or bathtub) that it doesn’t like.
- They feel safer outside of the litter box. Todd said that sometimes cats can even pee or poop somewhere like your bed, “which can feel pretty personal, but it’s just because they feel safe there.”
How can I help pets avoid accidents?
Reduce your cat’s stress level
Butzer said that one way to potentially help reduce stress in cats is to add a calming supplement to their diet, such as for hyperactive kittens.”
Butzer also recommends giving them a supplement to give their immune system extra support if you know your cat is stressed.
Set up a nicer litter box
Todd said there are several ways to ensure your cat has a good litter box, including:
- Offers a large litter box.
- Make sure the litter is not heavily scented.
- Be careful not to use strong-smelling detergents.
- Place the tray in quiet places away from the cat’s other resources such as food.
- For older cats, make sure the tray has an opening near the bottom so they can easily climb in, even if they have arthritis.
Keep your cat hydrated
Harrison said, “To prevent urinary tract problems, make sure your cat has plenty of water to drink at all times,” and consider giving her wet food once a day.
Stick to a daily dog walking routine
Butzer recommends creating a daily walking schedule that your dog can rely on to avoid accidents around the house.
“No dog wants to have accidents in the house and feel bad afterwards. So if he knows next time he’ll be let out, he can just hold it,” she said.
Add probiotics to your dog’s diet
Feeding your dog a probiotic daily can help prevent unwanted episodes of diarrhea, Butzer said.
“Educating your dog on how to prevent heartworm will also help prevent intestinal parasites, and feeding your dog a probiotic daily can help regulate your dog’s gut and digestion,” she advised.
If your dog has a tendency to eat their poo (coprophagia), this could also be the cause of an upset stomach. Giving a dietary supplement for coprophagia can act as a deterrent and support gut health, immune function and gum health, Butzer said.
Do dog pee pad training
You can try teaching your dog to walk on a pee pad by laying out the sheets in areas of the home where they’re comfortable in accidents, Butzer said.
“At least cleaning up that way is less stressful for the pet parents and your dog has a designated area to go to if he’s feeling sick,” she said.
Don’t punish pets for accidents
Todd said, “Never punish your pet for accidents around the house,” as maybe it could teach them not to walk in front of you, which could mean they can leave a mess somewhere in the future that can’t be seen.
Dogs can be reluctant to pee or poop on walks if you punish them, she said.
Your pet may also associate the punishment with you, in which case it will affect your relationship with them, Todd said.
https://www.newsweek.com/pet-accidents-peeing-pooping-cats-dogs-health-issues-1709500 Why random “accidents” in your pet could be a sign of a serious problem