Litterbox Training Tips

Kitten in LitterboxFortunately for cat owners, most kittens have a natural predilection for using a litter box to eliminate.  As with most things in life, however, there are exceptions.  If you have a stubborn kitten, you may have to backpedal and be sure your feline friend knows what you want it to do.  Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Be sure the litter box is the right size for your kitten!  Young kittens may have a hard time climbing over the side of a full-size box.  You might consider using a cake pan or something similar until he/she gets the hang of it.
  • Make sure the litter boxes are accessible.  Long distances or stairs might be difficult for a little kitty to get there in time.  Make sure there is a box on every floor and in the areas where your kitten spends the most time.
  • Show them the way.  Make a point to periodically place your kitten in the litter box, especially after meals.  Encourage them to dig.
  • Play with the litter.  Some cats prefer a certain type of litter.  Try clumping vs. nonclumping, scented or non-scented, or alternative types such as recycled newspaper or pine.
  • Make sure the box isn’t too scary.  Many times we inadvertently put litter boxes in out-of-the-way areas where scary monsters lurk.  Noisy washing machines, refrigerators, furnaces, nosy dogs, and loud children can all be deterrents for your kitten.

By following these tips, your new kitty should be well on its way to being a litter box pro in no time at all!


Food Allergies in Pets: What to Look For

Dog with Food AllergiesFood allergies are one of the top three allergies in dogs and cats.  Pets can be allergic to any type of food, but the most common offenders include proteins or carbohydrates such as beef, chicken, fish, corn, wheat, or soy.  Minor ingredients such as preservatives or dyes are also potential allergens.  Despite common misconception, pets can develop food allergies even if they have “eaten the same food their entire life”.  If your pet exhibits any of the following signs, he/she may have a food allergy that should be discussed with your veterinarian.

  • Allergy symptoms (usually itching) that persist all year round.
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Repeated problems with the anal sacs.
  • Allergy symptoms starting later in life (after the age of 5)
  • Allergy symptoms which are only minimally responsive to steroids.

Food allergies are most often diagnosed by conducting a food trial during which the animal is fed only a hypoallergenic diet.  This diet is carried out for 10-14 weeks.  If symptoms resolve the pet is challenged with the old diet to see if symptoms return.   Most food allergies are manageable simply by avoiding the offending food.

If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, bring him in to see us and we can discuss it.


Idle Hands: Why Mental Stimulation is Important for your Pet

Bored BeagleWe’ve all heard the saying:  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  This not only applies to humans, but to our pets as well.  It is estimated that most dogs need at least 6 hours of mental activity a day.  Boredom can result in all sorts of behavioral problems, including destructive and obsessive behaviors.

Exercise is a great outlet, however many pets benefit from mental stimulation as well.  Mental exercise is not hard to accomplish- try hiding treats around the house, playing hide-and-go-seek, teaching a new trick, or making a play date with another pet.  For dogs, try doggie daycare to keep them occupied while you’re away. You may just see a change in your pet’s behavior for the better.  And you will have a happy dog or kitty to boot!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss some suggestions for your pet, contact us!