Questions for Dr. Shawn - Behavior and Litterbox Issues
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"Dear Dr. Shawn:
(Dr. Shawn, I’ve received the same question from at least 15 other people…)
"My dog eats my cat’s feces. I try to hide the kitty litter but he just wont stop going into the litter. Why is he doing that? It’s terribly disgusting to me, but I am more concerned about the health risks."
”He’s doing that because, as disgusting as it sounds, the cat feces taste delicious to him! Keep in mind that fecal material reflects the diet. Since a cat’s diet is higher in protein and fat than dog foods, most dogs prefer to eat cat food over dog food. This also means that cat feces are quite appealing to dogs. I also have this problem with my dog, and the only thing I can do is constantly clean out the book after my cat eliminates in it. You can also try the suggestion I gave last month regarding the dog eating another dog’s feces.
I would make sure the pet is taking a good multivitamin-mineral/health maintenance formula (my favorite is Vim & Vigor by Pet Togethers.) I would also add additional enzymes that increase digestion of the food, as your pet may have decreased digestion and absorption of nutrients.
If adding these 2 supplements to the food do not result in improvement in 1-2 weeks, consider adding a product like Forbid to the cat's food, which may impart a bad taste to the feces making them less attractive to your dog. Good luck with this!
"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"My dog eats our new dog’s feces. What can I do?"
"Usually this is a normal, although obviously disgusting, behavior. Assuming the pet is on a good diet, there are 2 suggestions I have for you. I would make sure the pet is taking a good multivitamin-mineral/health maintenance formula (my favorite is Vim & Vigor by Pet Togethers.)
I would also add additional enzymes that increase digestion of the food, as your pet may have decreased digestion and absorption of nutrients. If adding these 2 supplements to the food do not result in improvement in 1-2 weeks, consider adding a product like Forbid to both dogs' food. This product imparts a bad taste to the dog's feces, making it less likely your dog will eat them. Finally, make sure to dispose of any feces once they are excreted from the dog."
"For the next few weeks I thought I’d share some interesting facts from the veterinary world. To start us off, here are some important facts about animal bites:"
- Dogs are responsible for 80-90% of animal bites, with cats being responsible for the remainder. Most bites are unprovoked and 1/3 involve the family pet.
- Children tend to be bitten on the face and neck area, whereas adults are usually bitten on the extremities and hands. Children with neck bites can die from trauma to the carotid artery, and their injuries are usually more severe.
- Extensive injury is often seen with pit bull bites, as they can bite with a force of up to 450 PSI. They also grind their molars when biting which adds to the severity of the bite. However, in my practice, MOST of the pit bulls I treat are very sweet dogs! While there are efforts to make laws regarding so-called “dangerous breeds,” personally I am opposed to these laws as any dog can bite a person. In my experience, while certains breeds may be implicated in bites more than other breeds, and while bites from certain breeds can be more severe than bites from other breeds, I hate to implicate all members of a certain breed as “bad.”
- Most cat bites become infected (usually with Pastuerella bacteria) due to the deeper puncture bites associated with cat bites. Dog bites are less commonly
infected as these bites are usually more superficial.
- Treatment with prompt and thorough wound care plus antibiotics is important. I would also use herbs and homeopathics to boost the immune system and minimize pain, swelling, and inflammation.
"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"I have a 4 month old mastiff puppy who likes to eat rocks! He doesn't chew them, but rolls them in his mouth and then swallows them. I have tried putting a taste deterrent on them but he doesn't seem to care. I feed him a high quality puppy food, but maybe it is lacking in something, or maybe it is just his "puppy puts everything in the mouth" thing. I don’t want him to hurt himself. Any ideas?"
”The problem you describe is very common in puppies. Puppies are teething for the first 6 months of life, and chewing helps relieve the discomfort that goes along with this. Also, many breeds of dogs (especially retrievers and some other larger breeds) are “mouth-oriented” and always need to chew something. The best way to help is to do your best to limit his exposure to things you don’t want him to chew. This is not always easy but you need to treat a puppy like a baby: keep your eye on him and keep things out of his reach so he won’t chew things like socks and shoes.
Regarding rocks, don’t let him have access to the outdoors unless he’s leashed so you can prevent him from getting rocks, wood chips, and similar objects. Most dogs will grow out of this problem by 6-8 months of age after the adult teeth have erupted. This is also a good time to teach him to accept a tooth brush, as brushing of the teeth will help prevent periodontal disease. And finally, provide him with plenty of acceptable chewing toys, large fresh bones, and other objects your veterinarian might suggest.”
"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"My cat’s litterbox has developed a bad odor recently. I remove her waste daily and she doesn’t appear sick. Can you help me with this problem?"
”This is a very common problem. Here’s my approach to diagnosing and treating the problem. First, I want to make sure the cat does not have any urinary or gastrointestinal problems. If the litter has recently started to have an odor, some type of disease is most likely. Diagnostic testing can include various tests such as a microscopic fecal analysis and urinalysis. If a disease is diagnosed, it is treated appropriately. Second, make sure the box is cleaned frequently (this means daily for many cats.)
For those cats that always seem to have a smelly box, here are some tips that may help. Use a clumping litter; these seem to produce less of a litterbox odor than other litters. Second, various natural additives can be mixed in the box with the litter. This will help freshen the box and attract the cat to use the box. Finally, various oral supplements can be helpful in reducing litterbox odor. The supplements seem to make the feces and urine less smelly.
In my own cat’s case, I combined all of these ideas. She has a fresh-smelling clumping litter, so cleaning the box is as easy as scooping away the used litter. I also add something to the box to help keep the box fresh. Finally, I give her several supplements that reduce hairball problems (she’s a long-haired cat) and also contribute to less litterbox odor.
Feel free to contact me (email only please) for my list of what I use. Give it a few weeks and I think this natural protocol will be very helpful in reducing the odor in your cat’s box.”
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