Litter Box Issues

Litter Box Issues

cat litterbox issues

What your cat wants you to know when they go outside the box

Litter box issues can be a headache. If you find urine on the walls, near windows or doors, or on vertical surfaces, your cat may be marking his territory. Whether male, female, spayed, neutered, or intact, any cat at any age can start spraying urine to do this. The problem may be triggered by other animals in the house or animals your cat sees outside.

If the problem occurs on rugs, laundry, beds, or just outside the litter box, the problem may be the box or its surroundings. It might not have been scooped regularly, your cat may no longer like where the litter box is located, or your cat may have been scared while using it. Or, it could be a combination of these things.

Go to the Vet

Urinary tract infections and other medical-related issues are common culprits in litter box issues. Talk to your veterinarian right away to rule out this cause.

Remove the Smell

Cats are attracted to soiling in locations where they smell urine or feces. If the smell is partially removed, the cat will probably be triggered to “refresh” the spot.

When cleaning, be sure to not use common household cleaners, especially ones containing ammonia. Instead, use specialized enzymatic cleansers. If the stain is already dry, soak the spot with lukewarm water and blot it as much as possible. Next, treat the area with the commercial enzymatic cleanser. Repeat this process three times.

Create the ideal area for your litter box

Make sure the box is easy to find, especially for elderly cats. If your home has multiple levels, provide a box on each level. Avoid moving the box, as many cats do not like change.

Avoid scented litters, cleaning with bleach or heavily scented products, and do not spray your box with an air freshener.

Most cats prefer large, uncovered boxes. Others like smaller boxes or covered boxes. Offer your kitty a variety of boxes so they can choose which they like best.

Contact a professional for litter box issues

If you have tried all of the above and your litter box issues are not resolved, it is probably time to consult with a professional.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Effects of Air Pollution on Pets

Effects of Air Pollution on Pets

The Effects of Air Pollution on Pets

Research has confirmed the dangers of air pollution for humans: People who are exposed to excessive air pollution have an increased risk of developing respiratory issues such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Cardiovascular disease is another potential health issue connected to exposure to air pollution. Those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease as well as elderly people and young children may even be at risk for premature death from pollution exposure. But people aren’t the only ones who can suffer ill effects from exposure to air pollution: Many pet owners have concerns about the effects of air pollution on their animals, and scientists are beginning to study the potential risks for pets that have exposure to air pollution.

Origin of Air Pollution

Air pollution originates from many different sources. Fumes from vehicle traffic as well as from power plants, construction, the burning of coal and gasoline, and livestock contribute to pollution. Homes can be filled with pollution from sources such as wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, tobacco smoke, and cooking. Pets living in urban areas have a higher exposure to and risk from smog and exhaust pollutants, while animals living in rural areas may be exposed to chemicals due to the spraying of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.

Scientific Studies

Studies have shown that pets living in homes with cigarette-smokers have increased health risks, perhaps even greater than those for humans living in the same homes. This is because pets spent more time near the floor, where smoke concentrations are higher. Cats exposed to secondhand smoke have been shown to have reduced lung function when compared to felines living in smoke-free homes, according to scientific research. Scientists are also exploring links between common indoor activities such as smoking and the use of cleaning products and certain cancers in dogs.

Pets are also at risk from outdoor air pollution. In a recent study of dogs in Mexico City, scientists examined the brains of local dogs to compare them with the brains of dogs in cities with less pollution. The brains of dogs living in Mexico City showed inflammation, amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

Another study conducted by the University of Massachusetts and the Tufts University Cummings School of Medicine involved 700 dog owners and their use of pesticides. The results showed that about a third of the dogs had canine malignant lymphoma, a type of cancer. The study also showed that the dogs had a 70 percent higher chance of developing lymphoma if the owners used pesticides in their yards.

Cats have also been found to be more likely to develop asthma when exposed to indoor or outdoor pollutants. Felines living in homes where a wood-burning fireplace is in use or smoking occurs are often found to have a marked decrease in lung function.

Taking Steps to Reduce Pets’ Exposure to Air Pollution

Because many pets spend the majority of their time indoors or in their yard, it’s important for owners to take steps to minimize exposure to air pollution both inside and out.

  • Change air filters often.
  • Vacuum frequently to remove hair and other pollutants.
  • Avoid smoking indoors.
  • Choose chemical-free cleaning products when possible.
  • Reduce carbon emissions when possible by carpooling, taking a bus, or biking.
  • Choose areas for outdoor exercise of pets where the air is cleaner (away from highways).
  • Use chemical-free products in the yard whenever possible.

Essential Oils and Pets

Essential oils have become popular in homes, but they can be dangerous for pets. Using diffusers and warmers to release essential oils into the air can increase pets’ exposure to them, which can cause respiratory issues; birds can be especially sensitive to these oils. The risks of poisoning for pets can also come from exposure to essential oils on their skin and from ingesting them. Tea tree oil can be particularly dangerous, especially for cats and other small animals. A toxin present in tea tree oil is metabolized by the liver, and cats have lower levels of the necessary metabolic enzyme than dogs have. In fact, cats can get sick if they even come into contact with a dog that’s been groomed with tea tree oil; don’t use essential oils on a dog if you also have a cat in the home. Signs of poisoning include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, drooling, wobbliness, depression, and other strange behaviors. The smaller and younger the animal, the higher the risk of essential oil poisoning.

For more information, please contact us.

Why Spay and Neuter Your Pets

Why Spay and Neuter Your Pets

For Kitty’s Sake can help with spay and neuter assistance for ferals and indoor cats if you are having difficulty with the funding.

By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis. This results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized in the United States each year simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around. There are also medical and behavioral benefits to spaying (female pets) and neutering (male pets) your animals.

Here are some of the medical benefits to spay and neuter:

  • Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  • Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

And behavioral benefits to spay and neuter:

  • Your spayed female pet won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
  • Your male dog will be less likely to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house. Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other male animals.
  • Your neutered male may be better behaved. Unneutered dogs and cats are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Your dog might be less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s neutered. Some aggression problems may be avoided by early neutering.

Spaying/neutering your pets is also highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter.


Call these numbers for detailed information and to obtain a certificate to have your pet spayed or neutered, by a participating veterinarian at a reduced fee. Veterinarians may differ from program to program.

For more information, please contact us.

How the Pet Obesity Epidemic Happened

How the Pet Obesity Epidemic Happened

cat obesity

How the Pet Obesity Epidemic Happened

Kale Chips weighed 85 pounds when his caregiver surrendered him to Chicago’s Animal Care and Control in late 2014. The Beagle was twice the size he should have been, an unfortunate consequence of a guardian who was unable to properly care for him.

After he was pulled by Chicago-based rescue group One Tail at a Time, Kale Chip’s story quickly went viral. Images of the morbidly obese dog were shared across the country, reigniting the on-going conversation about weight problems among our animal companions. Today, as a result of hard work and commitment, Kale Chips is a healthy 44 pounds, living a happy and active life alongside his adoptive family and canine siblings. The conversation on pet obesity, however, is far from over.

In the United States, about 58 percent of cats and 53 percent of dogs were overweight in 2014, according to data from the National Pet Obesity Prevalence Study, conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Of those animals, 28.1 percent of the cats and 17.6 percent of the dogs were designated obese—defined as weighing more than 30 percent of their ideal body weight. Compare that to the fact that 68.8 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, and it’s clear that the weight epidemic in pets is quickly coming to mirror the situation among humans.

The health issues overweight pets face are similar to their human counterparts as well, including increased risks for high blood pressure, heart and respiratory diseases, cancer, kidney disease, joint problems, and diabetes, and decreased life expectancy. APOP estimates extra weight can take an average of 2.5 years off a pet’s lifespan, about 25% of their life for a dog with a ten-year life expectancy.

Recognizing the problem

“Just like with people, overfeeding and not enough exercise are the main causes of obesity in pets,” says Lindsay Seilheimer, DVM, CCRP, the rehabilitation director for the Athletic Center at Veterinary Specialty Center (VSC) in Buffalo Grove. VSC opened their Athletic Center earlier this year in response to the growing demand for targeted weight loss and rehabilitative orthopedic services for pets.

>Unlike their human counterparts, pets can really never be responsible for their excess weight. They eat what is provided to them and they exercise to the degree that we facilitate it. Imbalances between caloric intake and energy expenditures can be easily managed by caregivers. With so many loving and well-meaning pet parents out there, how did the pet obesity problem get so out of control?

Perhaps it’s a case of denial. Despite the overwhelming prevalence of overweight pets, APOP’s study reveals that 90 percent of cat guardians and 95 percent of dog guardians classify their pet as being at a healthy weight. Not so easily fooled though are vets and other pet health professionals, who are seeing an influx of hefty pets come through their doors.

Finding solutions

Jessica Ray, the operations manager of Urban Pooch, a canine lifestyle center with two Chicago locations, says that more than 30 percent of the animals that come to their facility are overweight or obese.

Similar to most human health clubs, Urban Pooch’s Training and Fitness Center offers a host of modalities for clients who need to slim down. This includes treadmills, open gym time, agility, flyball, nutrition consultation services, and a program called FitPAWS, which uses various fitness products to help strengthen dogs physically and mentally. For pet parents looking to help their pets lose weight, Ed Kaczmarek, Urban Pooch’s co-founder, recommends the use of an activity monitor, which provides accurate, up-to-date data on an animal’s daily activity levels.

“You do have to put time in,” notes Ray, highlighting one of the main problems caregivers have with getting  their pet to a healthy weight. Just like with humans, a pet’s weight loss journey can be slow, plagued with plateaus and setbacks. What facilities like Urban Pooch and VSC offer is a chance to do it with the support of professionals who can help guide the process, as well as provide access to innovative treatment options.

One of the most popular treatments at VSC’s Athletic Center is the underwater treadmill, which allows animals to exercise without putting a lot of stress on their joints, says Seilheimer. This is especially important for pets whose weight problems, age, or other physical limitations makes traditional activities painful.

The right stuff

Exercise is crucial for helping pets achieve and maintain healthy weights, but research reveals that it’s not the main culprit behind the pet obesity epidemic. That designation belongs to food—how much and what kind.

A big misconception about our pets is that they are always hungry. Though your dog or cat may accept any and all treats you offer, like us, they’re often simply responding to the pleasure response that comes with food, not an actual hunger cue. It’s up to us humans to do our research and make sure our pets are staying within their specific recommended daily caloric intakes.

“The safest and best way to help your pet lose weight is to measure their food,” says Seilheimer. “Account for treats that you give them by decreasing food at meal times.” So go ahead and buy Fido that pupcake from the pet-friendly food truck on your walk, but offer less food at dinnertime to compensate.

“Pay attention, and know what you’re feeding your [pet],” notes Brittany West, retail manager at Urban Pooch. That means knowing the calorie counts of food and treats, as well as knowing how many calories your pet requires. Some smaller dogs need just a few hundred calories a day, meaning that Kong full of peanut butter you left when you went to work in the morning could be the equivalent of a full Thanksgiving dinner.

We all want our pets to live their longest, healthiest lives, which means doing the work to set them up for success. At your pet’s next check-up, ask your vet to provide you with some guidelines for your pet’s specific daily nutritional needs. Start swapping calorie-laden biscuits with fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, and don’t skip a walk just because it doesn’t fit into your schedule—you owe it to your furry friend to get them moving every day. Our pets rely on us to be their benevolent leaders, advocating for their best interests and helping them lead happy, healthy lives. What the statistics about overweight and obese pets tell us is that there is definitely room for improvement.

For more information, please contact us.

How to Prevent Obesity in Pets

How to Prevent Obesity in Pets

Keep your pet at optimal weight for an optimal life – preventing obesity in pets.

By College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

Like humans, pets can become obese and develop excess body fat, which can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes or degenerative joint disease. In order to provide your furry best friend with the highest quality of life and increase their life span, be sure to follow these simple steps to prevent your pet from becoming obese.

Weight gain in pets is often a result of overfeeding and lack of exercise. To keep your pet at a healthy weight, be sure to provide a healthy balance between food intake and physical activity. For example, give your dog or cat two to three meals a day instead of providing food at all times, and make sure to include at least one daily walk or some playtime.

Maintaining a healthy weight for dogs and cats also depends on the type of food they eat on a daily basis. Owners should choose an appropriate pet food according to the animal’s age, weight, and activity level. Generally, younger dogs and cats need to consume more calories per pound of body weight than older dogs and cats. Animals with active lifestyles and pregnant or nursing females require more protein, minerals, and calories in their diet.

Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained the best way to choose the healthiest option for your pet. “Your regular veterinarian is the best person to give advice on what to feed your pet,” she said. “They will be able to provide an optimal diet type based on the animal’s age and body condition. In general, feeding guides on food products tend to overestimate the amount of food needed, so these guides can be misleading.”

In addition to diet and exercise, pet owners can regularly monitor their pet’s weight by routinely weighing them around the same time of the day. This can be effective in catching your pet’s weight increase before it becomes a more serious problem.

Obesity can also be caused by some serious health problems rather than simply reflecting poor diet and lack of exercise. Weight gain can be related to hormone problems, such as hypothyroidism in dogs and acromegaly in cats, which is defined as excess growth hormone production. Dogs with hypothyroidism gain weight without eating more food than usual, while cats with acromegaly will experience an increase in appetite. Dogs and cats with Cushing’s syndrome will appear as if they’ve gained weight with their pot-bellied appearance, but these patients rarely experience a weight increase.

No matter the cause of obesity in dogs and cats, severe secondary diseases and health problems can develop if the obese patient is left untreated. There is good evidence that obesity impacts quality of life as well as life span. “In dogs, obesity is often associated with joint problems, such as arthritis and loss of mobility,” Cook said. “Obesity in cats is strongly associated with diabetes mellitus.” In addition to these health conditions, an obese pet may also have difficulty breathing, become fatigued with routine exercise, and be unable to groom itself effectively.

Though it may be tempting to spoil your pet with table scraps and extra servings of food, consider thinking twice about the consequences your pet may face as a result. To provide your pet with a healthy and happy life, consult your veterinarian in keeping a balanced lifestyle and choosing the right food for your pet’s needs.

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Controlling Your Cat’s Hairballs

Controlling Your Cat’s Hairballs

How to treat and prevent hairballs

By Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Pet owners love their feline friends, and will do whatever it takes to keep them relaxed and happy. This makes it especially alarming for pet-owners to witness their cat suffer from the discomforting symptoms that come with hairballs. Knowing how to prevent this common problem and how to treat it when it occurs is essential to keeping your cat healthy.

“A hairball is an accumulation of hair in the GI tract,” said James Barr, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM). “It simply accumulates together and is usually contained within the stomach.” A hairball is formed when cats accidentally ingest loose hair while cleaning their fur. The fur that is not digested accumulates in the stomach, forming a hairball. While clinical signs of hairballs may vary, common symptoms include decreased appetite, constipation, and vomiting. “In the worst case scenario, the hair passes through the stomach and lodges in the small intestine,” said Barr. “The result is an obstruction in the GI tract which can be life threatening.”

If you believe your cat is feeling sick due to a hairball it is important to see your veterinarian right away. They may prescribe medication or give treatments that can help cats deal with the discomfort associated with hairballs.

“Numerous cats, especially those with long hair, will occasionally vomit up hairballs and not show any clinical signs, which may be completely normal for your cat,” said Barr. “ If there seems to be an abnormal amount of hairballs produced, then steps should be taken to prevent the pet from ingesting large amounts of hair or to help the hair move through the GI tract before it accumulates together.

Pet owners can also help reduce the severity of their cat’s hairballs by frequently brushing the cat and discouraging it from excessively grooming itself.

“There are over-the-counter medications that are designed for cats with hairballs to aid in digestion,” said Barr. “As always, if there are concerns for your cat’s health, please call your veterinarian for guidance.”

For a little extra help with hairball management click here to find the best in hairball helping products!

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