What Is The Best Cat Litter?

cat litter choices

I have no idea how most cat owners end up choosing a cat litter. If my experiences are anything to go by, it’s trial and error. I doubt they try more than a few before settling on a favourite.

This is a vet review of the common and popular types of cat litter in stores. I’ll help you understand:

  • the choices of cat litter
  • the problems with each type
  • and the evidence for which ones cats prefer
Continue reading “What Is The Best Cat Litter?”

Help! My Dog Is Peeing Inside

dog bed wetting

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Dog Urinates In The House

  1. Urinating in the bed is almost never a behavioural issue
  2. Most cases are an easily treatable form of incontinence
  3. A loss of toilet training in an older dog is often caused by urinary infection, excessive thirst and mobility or cognition problems

Now dive deeper…

Let’s set the record straight: a lot of people have got dogs peeing inside all wrong. To me, never more spectacularly wrong than in the above example. Blaming dogs for something they can’t control? In reality, absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

The easiest way to illustrate this is to talk about puppies and crates. Crate training is basically a ‘puppy toilet training hack’ built entirely around the knowledge that the last place a dog will choose to pee is in their own bed. Literally the very last place on Earth.

If you have a dog that urinates inside, it’s important to work out whether it’s by choice or accident.

  1. Dogs that used to be toilet trained but now wet their bed, leak drops of urine or leave puddles where they lie down usually have a problem. This page is to help those dogs and their owners.
  2. Dogs that choose to urinate inside when it’s easy to get out usually have problems with their toilet training. If that’s your dog, read our three steps to toilet training but you also need to know it’s very hard to stop some undesexed males.

Bedwetting is usually the most obvious difference between these two groups.

Why Dogs Pee In Their Bed

So if wetting the bed isn’t behavioural, what causes it?

Urethral Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence

USMI is when the bladder’s closing pressure gets low enough that urine begins to force its way out. This especially happens during sleep when there’s no longer any conscious part of urine control.

If a mature female dog is leaking puddles or wetness where she sleeps, USMI is usually the reason. We used to call this disease Hormone Responsive Incontinence. Although USMI occurs in all dogs, read here how the risk of incontinence increases with desexing.

Treatment is usually easy and successful using the following drugs either alone or in combination:

  • Synthetic oestrogens
  • Phenylpropanolamine, a smooth muscle stimulant
  • Deslorelin implant (not licensed for this application and less effective)

To diagnose USMI we must first rule out the other causes…

Urinary Tract Infection

In my view, the biggest mistake vets can make is assuming an older female dog has USMI just because she’s leaking urine. It just so happens that a UTI is also common in female dogs and the angry, reactive bladder can mimic the signs. That’s why all incontinent dogs should have urine testing before a diagnosis.

Recurrent or repeated signs of urinary problems can be caused by a bladder stone, or a structural problem with the bladder like ectopic ureter. These are easily recognised via an ultrasound examination.

Overflow Incontinence

Just the other day I was nearly fooled when an older female dog who started wetting her bed turned out to have overflow incontinence. That’s when dogs drink more than they used to and the extra urine causes them to start having trouble getting out in time. I discovered the problem by noticing that the urine was excessively dilute and ordered a blood test. If you suspect your dog is drinking more, read our guide on how much a dog should drink and why dogs drink too much.

Read here how Millie’s wetting in the house was linked to a toxic jerky treat.

Mobility Problems

It’s obvious but easily overlooked. When dogs have arthritis, they are slow to get out of bed and therefore urine leakage is more likely. If we suspect painful joints, a short antiinflammatory trial is a great way to answer the question.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Very old dogs (usually over 15) can start to forget their toilet training or get confused or lost in the house. The best solution is to start taking them out to the toilet, just like you might for an elderly relative. However, just because a dog is old doesn’t mean they are going senile and the other causes of incontinence still need to be ruled out first.

Read more about cognitive dysfunction syndrome here.

Neurological Diseases

Although a rarer cause, anything that interrupts the nerve supply to the urinary tract can cause incontinence.  All the diseases listed on our disk or spinal problems page can possibly cause loss of control. Most of these diseases should show other signs as well.

Excitement Incontinence

Several readers suggested adding dogs who leak urine when excited. In puppies, this is very common and often confused with toilet training problems. There’s not much that can be done except to hope they grow out of it. If they don’t, all you can do is not get them too excited (if it bothers you) and accept that they can’t control it.

In summary, you can see that incontinence isn’t so simple. To a vet, it’s not too complicated either. By the time your dog has had a physical, blood and urine test, the diagnosis and treatment are usually clear. The common causes of wetting the bed are easily treated, and even if they aren’t, isn’t it so much better to know it’s not your dog’s fault?

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Help! My Dog Is Drinking A Lot

dog-drinking-water

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Dog Drinks More Than Usual

  1. When dogs drink more it’s usually hormonal or kidney issues
  2. These are all easily diagnosed on routine blood & urine testing
  3. The top cause in small breed dogs is Cushings Disease
  4. If testing is normal, there’s usually nothing to worry about

Now dive deeper…

I’ve talked before about cats drinking too much water. Now let’s look at the common reasons why dogs drink excessive amounts of water. Just like for cats, drinking too much in dogs is potentially serious and needs investigation.

First, though, how much is too much? The first thing to do is measure the amount.

How Much Water Should A Dog Drink A Day?

A dog under normal ambient temperatures and exercise levels should drink no more than 70mL per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, a 10kg dog should drink less than 700mL per day. Dogs drinking more than this amount should be investigated by a vet.

Most dogs with excessive thirst will drink well over 100mL/kg/day. To measure the actual amount, mark the level of water in the bowl and after 24 hours refill it to the same mark using a measuring jug. Make sure all sources of water have been accounted for and other animals have their own separate water supplies.

If the result is high, here’s what your vet will be thinking about.

Why Dogs Drink Excessive Water

There are five common reasons why you might notice your dog wanting more water without other signs of illness.

Then there are the common causes where there will also usually be other, more obvious signs of a problem. These include:

There are in fact many other rare causes such as Addison’s disease, portosystemic shunts, hypercalcaemia (usually from cancer) or diabetes insipidus but don’t worry too much about these. The trick is simply to know that routine blood tests and urine testing should get you a long way towards finding the answer. Whatever the cause, drinking excessively is a sign to take seriously.

Early detection is vital for some diseases. So if you have a dog who starts drinking more, even if they don’t seem unwell, let us take a look! It might be nothing, or it might just be the clue that saves your dog.

Related: Why dogs pee inside

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.

Help! My Cat Is Drinking A Lot

cat drinking water

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

If A Cat Drinks More Than Usual

  1. It could be due to diabetes, kidney or thyroid disease
  2. These are all easily diagnosed on routine blood & urine testing
  3. The top three causes can all be managed or treated if detected in time
  4. If testing is normal, there’s usually nothing to worry about

Now dive deeper…

All jokes aside, cats really do have a drinking problem. I’ve talked before about cats not drinking enough water but that’s nothing compared with what happens when cats are too thirsty.

A cat who starts drinking or urinating more than they used to is almost certainly in big trouble. The good news is, it’s not an emergency and there’s plenty you can do if you find the cause before your cat gets sick.

Why Do Cats Drink Too Much?

There are five common reasons why you might notice your cat wanting more water. Read more about each at the links.

The last one should be obvious but it really is surprising how much more water cats need to drink on dry foods. Diarrhoea should also be obvious but many cats don’t use litter boxes so you might need to go poking about (quite literally).

Whatever the cause, drinking excessively is a sign to take seriously. Any change in a cat’s behaviour almost never happens just by chance. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog, that’s it.

More About Kidney Disease

I’d like to say a few more words about kidney disease; it’s the most common cause of drinking excessively and the most common illness of older cats. Most cat lovers will at some point have to face it so it’s good to be prepared.

Correct treatment of kidney problems depends on knowing both the stage of the disease and the unique features of each cat. It can be fiendishly complex and no two cats are treated the same. You can read all about this at our kidney disease page but here’s a quick summary of what your vet should be thinking and doing.

Tests For Kidney Problems

  • Blood and urine testing. No animal can be diagnosed as having kidney failure without both of these. That’s because dehydration from other causes looks exactly the same until you check the urine concentration. Blood tests like these also show us related problems like low potassium or high phosphate.
  • Blood pressure measurement. Kidney cats are often hypertensive; if you don’t fix this, they can go blind from retinal detachment and kidney problems worsen quickly.
  • Sterile urine culture. Not only are kidney infections more common than realised, they are great to discover. My own cat had one and by controlling it, her kidney problem got better, not worse.
  • Urine protein: creatinine ratio. Urine protein loss is a sign of glomerular damage and can be treated just by adding another tablet.

Read how to collect a urine sample here.

Treatment Of Kidney Disease

It all depends on the individual. The most important therapy for the majority of cats is a change to a renal support diet. By reducing blood phosphate levels and adding extra nutrients, these diets can make a huge difference to your cat’s lifespan and quality of life.

There are also several drugs we use to treat cats with kidney problems, though most cats only need a few of these.

  • Phosphate binders are needed if the special diet doesn’t do enough on its own
  • Potassium supplements fight the increased loss of this electrolyte from the kidneys
  • Drugs like benzepril or telmisartan reduce glomerular hypertension
  • Antihypertensives like amlodipine control high blood pressure
  • Appetite stimulants help cats maintain body weight, especially in later stages

The most important thing, however, is close monitoring. There’s no such thing as ‘wait and see’ with a cat who might have kidney problems. If they get sick, the faster we get them rehydrated the better their chances are of returning to normal.

Early detection is even more important. So if you have a cat who starts drinking more, even if they haven’t yet lost weight, let us take a look! It might be nothing, or it might just be the clue that saves your cat.

Related: Why cats pee inside

Have something to add? Comments are welcome below and will appear within 24 hours of lodging.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story! The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet is unwell, please seek veterinary attention.