Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Girl & Her Dog ~ Erin, Assistant

When you have a dog in the house and you are bringing home a precious baby, it's normal to be nervous. I was very scared to bring home my sweet baby Katie to meet my sweet Maggie. 

Before introducing them, I did so much research; I googled all my questions, talked with my veterinarian, and she suggested introducing Maggie to a crying baby doll to see how she would react. Thankfully, my worries were momentarily put rest when Maggie completely ignored it. 

When I first introduced Katie to Maggie, Katie was about a week old, and Maggie was only 6 months old. However, Maggie is a Great Dane, so miss Katie was still very small compared to Maggie. When I brought Katie into the room with Maggie, I sat down and let Maggie approach us on her own time. Maggie walked over, looked at Katie, and licked the side of her head. I knew then that these two were going to be close--I just never knew how close. 

When Katie would cry, Maggie would make sure she was alright. If I laid Katie on the bed, Maggie would curl up around her. If someone picked Katie up and she cried, Maggie would give you a look that said "I am watching you!" As Katie got older and Maggie got bigger, they got closer. I would lay Katie on the floor to play, and Maggie would be right there with her. 

When Katie started to crawl, Maggie would follow her around and make sure she did not get into trouble. Katie started to walk shortly after starting to crawl, and it was so funny to watch Maggie follow her around. Katie would take off walking, and Maggie would get up and trot right behind her. If Katie went to the stairs, Maggie would bark to get my attention or block the stairs until Katie turned around. I didn’t have to worry too much about Katie getting into trouble with Maggie always right there with her; Maggie would always let me know. 

One of my favorite memories of these two was when we went camping. We had Katie in her wagon, and when we gave her Maggie’s leash, Maggie pulled her around. After that trip, Katie would go find the leash and put it on Maggie to walk her around. Katie started to say "Maggie", and she would walk around yelling for Maggie as soon she woke up. 

Katie would run to the treat jar and yell for treats to give to Maggie, or while eating dinner, Katie would drop food for Maggie. When Katie started to go her fathers for the weekend, Maggie would walk around whining and looking for Katie. Katie would be in the same boat, walking around looking for Maggie and yelling her name at her dad’s. When Katie would come home, Maggie would run to her. Katie would wrap her arms around Maggie, and Maggie would kiss her. They hate being apart. 

I knew I needed to come up with something that would help them, so I decided that at the end of my video chats with Katie, I would let them video chat for a few minutes. When we go out shopping and I can take Maggie with us, I do. I have people laugh and giggle at the little girl in her stroller holding on to leash that has a big dog on the other end (*I also have another leash on Maggie to make sure she is safe). 

I have had many people ask me, "Do you every worry with the dog being so big that she would hurt your daughter?” I have had people comment on the photos that I have posted on Facebook of my daughter and Maggie, “You don’t worry that Maggie will get upset with your daughter laying on top of her like this?” or “When your daughter sits on her like that you don’t think she will act out?” 

Many dogs would, and it's always important to keep a watchful eye on the interactions between children and dogs of all ages and sizes. Fortunately, my Maggie is a very patient and loving dog, and I have few worries about Katie and Maggie interacting. 

The one question that really sticks out for me is when people ask, “Did you ever think they would be so close?”  My answer is no--I never thought they would ever be this close. I laugh every time someone asks me this. I never thought that my daughter and my Great Dane would ever have the bond that they have. The bond between the two of them goes beyond just a girl and her dog or a friendship. The love they have for each other and the way they care for each other and help each other cannot be described. I am thankful that they have this bond together and that Katie will always have Maggie and Maggie will always have Katie.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Litter Box Blues ~ Christa Riddle, DVM, CVA, CVCH

Inappropriate urination is a frequent reason cats visit veterinarians. Cats will urinate outside the litter box for both medical and behavioral reasons, and sometimes both simultaneously. An examination by your veterinarian along with complete urinalysis and abdominal radiographs are best to help distinguish between medical or behavioral conditions. Please don't just assume it's a behavioral problem without doing a few simple tests. For behavioral problems, the earlier you begin to address the issue the better the success in getting your cat back into the litter box. Below are environmental and behavioral tips I frequently present to clients who are frustrated by behavioral inappropriate urination. Please note that all of these suggestions may not apply to your situation.

  • Clean litter boxes daily. This is essential.
  • Litter boxes should be a minimum of 2 feet by 3 feet in size. Many cats are simply too large for the litter box selected by the owner. The bigger the better!
  • Use at least 3 inches of litter in the box.
  • Keep litter boxes out of high-traffic or noisy areas.
  • Increase the number of litter boxes. You should have at least one per cat. Many veterinarians advocate "one litter box per cat PLUS one extra."
  • Change litter types. We are fortunate to have many options these days.
  • Do not use box liners.
  • Uncover covered litter boxes.
  • Try a product called Cat Attract that you can add to the cat litter.
  • Get a new litter box yearly. Plastic can absorb odors over time.
  • Avoid using harsh cleaners in litter boxes. These smell of chemicals can be offensive to cats. Instead of strong chemicals, use a mild dish detergent and warm water.
  • If a cat is hiding to urinate consider a covered litter box.
  • Offer a variety of litters in a line of litter boxes and see which your cat prefers.
  • Move food bowls to the area where the cat is inappropriately eliminating.
  • Move litter boxes to the area where the cat is eliminating. If the cat begins to use the box, gradually start moving it back to the desired location.
  • If the cat is eliminating in defined areas, cover them with aluminum foil or plastic sheets to give an undesirable substrate.
  • Change dynamics of a multi-cat household-separate cats when not monitored or use crates; cover outside windows, gradually re-introduce the cats after behavior is satisfactory.
  • Treat soiled areas with enzymatic odor and stain removers and citrus type sprays. Cats are said to dislike citrus odors. 
  • Use Feliway, a cat pheromone product, to decrease territorial pressure.
  • Confine the offender. Use a small space to provide food and water. A small space will require the cat to use the litter box unless it wants urine and feces near its food.
  • Give a flavored treat as a reward when the cat uses the litter box.
  • Do not punish the cat for going outside the box unless you can catch them in the act, and then only by squirting them with water. 
  • Ask your holistic veterinarian about herbal supplements for calming. Many are available in treat form for ease of administration.
  • If possible and if safe, allow the cat time to exercise outside or on a screened porch.

If you have experienced success with a product or technique not mentioned above, please share by posing a comment. I am always open to creative solutions!

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