Pets psychological problems need treatment |

Pets psychological problems need treatment

Nadine Lober

Why would my cat start urinating in the house? This question has popped up a few times this week, and is a common problem among house cats. Small puddles that occur frequently can be a sign of bladder infection, which requires medical attention. If the puddles are normal size, and are not as frequent, then the analyzing begins. Veterinarians play the role of psychoanalysts quite often when it comes to cats and their routines. When your cat starts urinating in the house, we try to find a reason that could have perturbed him. A new pet, a new baby, an outdoor animal roaming your property, a new significant other visiting more often and a dirty litter box are all things that might anger a cat. Once the behavior is established, it is important to clean up the mess and remove the odor. Locking your cat in an un-carpeted room for a while until he only uses the litter box is the next step. Make sure that the litter box is always clean; you might even purchase an extra one. Also, try to block the area where your cat soils with plastic or other barricades. Because many urination and defecation disorders are anxiety related, cats are given medication. There are few different medications used with varying success, so discuss this with your veterinarian before the urination becomes a habit.Why does my dog go nuts when I leave him alone? Your dog may have separation anxiety, which is a physical or behavioral sign of distress exhibited by barking or crying, destroying things and defecation or urination. The behaviors are usually worse in the first 20 minutes of separation, and some may become apparent as you, the owner, are getting ready to leave. There have been no studies connecting the severity of the behavior with an owner’s attentiveness. But it is very important to rule out causes of this ill-mannered behavior, such as incomplete house breaking or training, teething, or some response to a scary event. Addressing separation anxiety is multi-faceted. First, prevent your pet from self injury by crating or barricading him. Use caution here, because confinement sometimes makes dogs worse. Also, try to keep him from being alone while treating the problem; day care may help for a while. Owners can change a dog’s response to the cues that initiate anxiety. For instance, grabbing the keys or your briefcase may make a dog nervous. Try grabbing the keys or the suitcase, going to the car and coming right back in a few times a day without actually leaving. Medication often becomes an integral part of treatment, whether anti-anxiety drugs or more natural supplements. If your dog barks when you leave, then remember that bark collars may simply mask the problem without treating the actual separation anxiety issue. Consult with your veterinarian and dog trainer for more ideas and treatments. Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at 949-7972.Vail, Colorado

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