Toileting Trouble, Arthritis Management + Dementia Treatment - Call the Vet #27

On this week’s episode, I’m talking all about:

  1. What the causes and solutions are for a cat who keeps toileting in the kitchen

  2. How to help an old dog showing signs of weakness and suffering mobility issues

  3. Coping with a dog who is starting to suffer signs of senility and dementia

call the vet episode 27 - toileting, arthritis and dementia

Inappropriate Pooing and Peeing

I have a 2-year-old Tabby. He knows where the box is, but he started peeing next to the kitchen sink and pooping under the table. So, we blocked him from going into the kitchen, and he goes to the litter box, but as soon as he is re-introduced to the kitchen, he repeats. What can I do to stop this? - Brandy

  • Spraying or urinating and defecating outside the litter box in a cat who has otherwise been well litter trained is generally due to either illness and health issue or stress.

  • Health problems include

    • Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) is the most common problem.

    • Arthritis, diarrhea, kidney disease, and diabetes are other possibilities

  • Stress is most likely the cause if the cat is otherwise toileting normally when excluded from the kitchen.

    • Litter tray placement is really important. Cats do like their privacy!

    • Other cats coming into your house is one of the biggest causes of stress in cats.

    • Fireworks, roadworks, renovation, house visitors, new baby, change in routine, and even the change of weather can be enough to set off a problem.

  • First, make sure that there is no health concern, especially if it is a recurring or long-term problem. Specific treatment might be needed. 

    • Have your cat checked by their vet and if possible, get a urine or stool sample.

    • Stress relief is the next consideration. If there are multiple cats in the house, the competition for litter boxes, food trays, and water bowls as it is a big source of stress. There should be one more of each than the number of cats you have.

    • Avoid having strange cats into your house. A microchip cat flap is excellent for this (this is the one I have for my own cats)

    • Pheromones like Feliway, and herbal supplements like Zylkene and Calmex can also help relax your cat.

  • For serious stressful situations, there are pharmaceutical drugs that can help.

  • Some cats are fussy with the litter. A change of the litter might help. Make sure to clean up properly after your cats as they are often attracted back to the same spots they urinated or pooped.

    • Don’t use bleach or ammonia-based cleaners.

    • Use an enzymatic cleaner that will help break down everything that is in the urine or poop. This one gets really good reviews

Related articles and resources:

Arthritis and Dementia - a challenging combination

Right now, I have an aging Chocolate Lab, who seems to be having some cognitive difficulties, or is just becoming defiant and demanding. He has been well-trained, with a personal trainer for years and he's regressed. When I crate him at night, he barks until he falls asleep. He repeats this in the morning when he wakes, at 5am. I try to not respond as I'm trying to not reinforce the behavior. What should I do? He also seems to be having some spinal problems and weakening in his hind end, what can I do to help him maintain strength? Thanks. - Wendy

Let’s break this down into 2 key questions:

  1. How to help a dog with weakness in his back end and spinal problems

  2. How to help a dog who’s showing signs of senility or dementia

It’s great that Wendy recognized that her dog is struggling, and that he seems to be weak in his back and having some spinal problems. Recognizing that problem is important, but taking action is important as well.

How to help a dog with weakness in his back end and spinal problems

  • There are seven key parts to any arthritis management plan.

  1. Weight management - as little as 6% weight loss can make a big difference in comfort level for an arthritic dog.

  2. Nutrition - diets design with arthritic dogs in mind are proven to improve comfort level significantly

  3. Environmental modification - this includes using non-slip mats, ramps, and comfortable bedding (like this luxury memory foam mattress!)

  4. Dietary supplementation - there are lots of worthless supplements out there. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils are those with the most evidence to support their use.

  5. Complementary therapies - this includes physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to maintain joint mobility and prevent muscle loss. 

  6. Exercise management - little and often is typically best, and avoiding high impact events.

  7. Pain killing medication - the mainstay of treatment for arthritis when it comes to medication is going to be non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

  • Monitor - Modify - Maintain:

    • Monitor how effective the plan is. Modify your plan when pain levels are poorly controlled or seem to be getting worse. Maintain whatever is working.

Related articles and resources:

How to help a dog who’s showing signs of senility or dementia

  • Canine cognitive dysfunction is very common, with an estimated 14-60% of dogs over the age of 8 suffering from dementia/senility

  • Signs of senility has an acronym DISHA.

    • Disorientation. Your dog might be wandering aimlessly, and they look like they are not sure where they are going and why they are walking.

    • Interaction. They might not be interacting as much with you.

    • Sleep-Wake Cycle. Dogs who suddenly become awake at night rather than sleeping is a sign. They might get up a lot earlier than they used to.

    • House Soiling. Accidents suddenly happen like urinating and defecating when they used to be good at controlling their bladder. Although, it can be signs of other bladder problems, kidney disease, diabetes, or intestinal disease.

    • Activity Changes. They become less active or start doing things they never normally do.

  • A single sign being present should raise suspicions. Two or more signs makes dementia more likely.

    • For mild to moderate senility, we can try antioxidant supplements like SAMe or milk thistle, herbal supplements like gingko biloba, diets rich in medium chain fatty acids, or the supplement Aktivait.

  • Improve your older dog’s brain function by encouraging interactive play. 

  • For more serious senility, drug therapies can be considered. There are few options and licensing varies depending on where you are in the world.

Related articles and resources:

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