LAS VEGAS, NV -- These reader questions were answered by world-renowned experts at the 85th Annual Western Veterinary Conference held here Feb. 17-21. The conference was attended by more than 6,500 veterinarians and 2,000 veterinary technicians and practice managers.
Q: My 4-year-old Miniature Schnauzer has started urinating in the house. He never did this before. We scold him when we catch him in the act, but he continues to do this. This behavior doesn't seem related to a medical problem, as the dog has access to the outdoors at all times. He's neutered, as is our 7-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, and the dogs get along great. Can you help? -- L.D., via Cyberspace
A: "I wonder if either anything in the household has changed to throw off your dog, or if something outdoors scared him (so he's fearful of going outdoors)," says Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, American Animal Hospital Association CEO. "You do need to rule out a medical possibility, even if it isn't likely." For example, if your dog has a kidney insufficiency, diabetes or Cushing's Disease, he may drink more and feel a sense of urgency to go. Schnauzers also may be predisposed to have bladder stone issues.
Assuming your veterinarian rules out a physical explanation, if you feel your dog is stressed, perhaps from some sort of change going on in the home, consider an Adaptil pheromone collar.
Don't focus on reprimanding your pup, says Cavanaugh, of Denver, CO. Instead, begin a program of re-house training as if your dog was a puppy. Take him out on a leash, and instantly reward him with a treat and praise for doing his business. Within reason, control his water intake. Also, maintain a potty schedule, so you know when your dog has eaten and when he relieves himself.
If you do catch your pet having an accident, certainly you can say "no." But far more important is interrupting him in the act (clapping your hands might do it), and then quickly taking him outside. Clean up any accidents with an enzymatic cleaner.
Q: I contacted you five years ago when we were moving from Florida to Tennessee, regarding transporting my cats. Your assistance helped. One cat, named Adam, is now 16, and as cuddly as ever, but he has the start of kidney disease. What kind of food should he be eating? He recently had five teeth pulled, so I'm not sure about crunchy food. However, I am concerned about protein levels in canned food with regard to this cat's kidney problems. Any advice? -- L.C., Antioch, TN
A: Feline veterinarian Dr. Margie Scherk, of Vancouver, BC, Canada, says, "If the cat is (doing well) and maintaining his coat and condition on your current diet, at least for now, (that diet) is likely fine. In general, dry food is acceptable for some nibbling (for cats with renal insufficiency), but canned is preferable for a higher quality protein, as well as the increased water (found in moist foods). Also, absolutely encourage this cat to drink water."
Offer water at several locations (at ground level due to your cat's age) and consider a drinking fountain for cats.
"If the (cat's) stools look like pellets more than they do logs (you can take a picture for your veterinarian), and if the disease is a bit more advanced, you might talk to your veterinarian about supplementing with subcutaneous fluids at home," Scherk adds.
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