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Why Is My Cat Peeing on Laundry?

Inappropriate urination is the leading cause of cats being surrendered to shelters. While there are a number of underlying causes, they can generally be broken down into medical causes, behavioral causes, or a combination of the two.

Why Is My Cat Peeing on Laundry? | AtlanticVetSeattle.comMedical causes

When cats choose somewhere besides their litter boxes to urinate, veterinarians look for health concerns such as such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, crystals in the urine (a potentially life-threatening situation in male cats), bladder stones, or bladder inflammation caused by an infection or even stress.

Laundry on the floor offers a soft, welcoming place to try to relive the pain. This pain can lead to behavioral-inappropriate urination due to a learned aversion to the “offending” litter box seen as the source of pain by the cat.

Behavioral causes

Conversely, behavior may be the underlying cause of inappropriate urination in and of itself. Domestic cats are very, very closely related to wild cats who live in groups of related female cats, roaming and defending territories of about 10 acres.

We humans, who love them, often force them into unnatural situations where they feel crowded, bored, or anxious.  Squabbling between cats or a dog, strangers in the home, noise, or a scary event that occurred while they were using the litter box (intimidation by another cat or a washing machine buzzer, for example) can also be the underlying cause.

Litter box causes

Other times, the litter box isn’t up to a cat’s standards (think Port-o-Potty at a trailhead in August) or she doesn’t care for the perfume or texture of the litter. Cats do have texture preferences for a number of the things they do naturally, including urinating. Some cats prefer softer substrates, such as laundry or plastic bags on the floor, instead of cat litter (especially pelleted or old-fashioned clay litter). Other cats don’t seem to care.

Two rules of thumb we champion

You can never have too many, too large, or too clean litter boxes.

 You need one litter box per cat, plus one, and one on every floor of the house.

Determining the cause of inappropriate urination

Figuring out the underlying cause of inappropriate urination starts with a thorough history and complete physical exam, including a urinalysis that is run right away (not sent to the lab) to look for crystal formation, blood tests to look for diabetes, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism.

Often, we will also recommend bladder imaging, such as X-rays or an ultrasound, to look for bladder stones and possibly at kidney health.

If all tests check out, we’ll explore possible behavioral causes. Here is where a house call visit from a veterinarian experienced in cat behavior can be very helpful in assessing life from the cat’s point of view.

Fortunately, there is hope for most cats that are urinating outside the litter box if the problem is addressed quickly, before it becomes a more serious medical issue or a habit, if it’s a behavioral issue.

Why Does My Dog Scoot?

Aargh! Your dog is scooting his butt on the carpet, or the grass, or even worse, the sidewalk. What in the world is that all about?

It’s a pain in the butt – literally!

While most dogs can reach their backend to lick at an itch or an irritation, sometimes a rougher surface is what they think will help relieve the itch or pain “back there.” Unfortunately, scooting can have some undesirable effects on a dog’s tender nether regions, causing skin abrasions and creating a mess on your carpet.

Two major reasons dogs scoot

Overly full or infected anal glands are two of the most common reasons dogs will scoot. Anal glands, located under the skin just to the side of the anus (at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock position) make a smelly, oily substance that dogs and cats use to mark their territory.

Some dogs, such as pugs, beagles, and basset hounds, make a lot more of the substance than required for the job, or the normal outflow tract becomes clogged. The glands’ tiny openings at the anus are near a big source of bacteria (poop), and occasionally, the glands can also become infected and abscessed.

Seasonal allergies

Dogs with seasonal allergies often have itchy butts and will also scoot. The itch can be so severe they’ll cause painful abrasions to the area. Fortunately, some brand new prescription medications, such as CytoPoint and Apoquel bring many dogs safe, welcome relief from their allergy symptoms with minimal side effects.

Serious conditions to be aware of

Unfortunately, a few very serious conditions can also cause dogs to scoot due to discomfort, including rectal or anal gland cancer and perianal fistulas. Rectal cancer is very serious and often life-threatening.

Perianal fistulations, infected tracts around the anus, are most common in unneutered male dogs and German Shepherds of both genders. They are treatable and usually have a favorable outcome than cancer.

Developing a treatment plan

A thorough physical exam, including a rectal exam, by your dog’s veterinarian, is an important first step in determine the underlying cause of scooting and developing a treatment plan that brings relief.

When Can My Puppy Go Running with Me?

When Can My Puppy Go Running with Me?“Hey Doc, when can I run with my puppy?”

Veterinarians get this question a lot, and the answer is: It depends.

While vets are huge fans of regular exercise for dogs’ emotional and physical health, we recommend holding off running with a dog until its musculoskeletal system is fully mature.

And, some breeds of dogs just aren’t born athletes, like Pugs, Frenchies, and Boston terriers. These smooshy-faced breeds should probably never be running partners.

Does that mean a puppy shouldn’t run at all?

Of course not, all puppies are going to run – around the house, around the yard, and around the park (only after completing their puppy vaccine series, please). But there’s a difference between short bursts of speed around the yard vs. miles of pounding the pavement or trail.

Dogs mature at different ages

Running longer distances too early and without appropriate training puts a great deal of stress on immature joints and ligaments, making a dog more susceptible to arthritis later in life. The musculoskeletal systems of various dog breeds and sizes mature at different rates.

Large and giant breeds, like retrievers and Great Danes, aren’t full mature until they are 18-24 months old.

Smaller, mixed-breed dogs (30-40#) mature faster, at 14-16 months.

The human equivalent might be Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, who began tumbling in kindergarten, but required a hip replacement in her mid-thirties.

Here’s a great article that discusses some additional issues to consider before taking your dog for a run: https://tinyurl.com/y7wpzpb9

Cat Adventuring – Why Should Dogs Have All the Fun?

Cat Adventuring – Why Should Dogs Have All the Fun?Many cats are satisfied sticking pretty close to home, watching the world go by through the window. For other cats, the quiet life isn’t nearly enough. Enter Adventure Cats.

Cats have sailed aboard ships for centuries. Their primary task is to keep shipboard rodents at bay. But including cats in adventure leisure sport activities and leisure travel seems relatively new.

In the Pacific Northwest, families often take their cats camping, an uncommon choice in other parts of the country. Cats accompany their owners while cross country skiing, cycling, rock climbing, backpacking, and paddle boarding.

Given the increasing number of health certificates we write, cats are traveling more often by air on vacation with their families, too.

3 Ways to Keep Your Adventure Cat Safe

  1. Make sure your cat has a registered microchip and collar or harness with ID tags, in case kitty gets lost.
  2. Prepare for the health risks inherent to the area in which the cat will travel, such as diseases and parasites that may not be common in the cat’s home region.
  3. Keep your veterinarian apprised of your cat’s travel history, in case a health concern crops up later that, looking back, may be attributable to something the cat was exposed to while adventuring.

How to Prepare Your Cat for Adventuring

Your cat needs the “right” personality traits, such as curiosity and self-confidence, to enjoy adventuring.

You also should gradually introduce a cat to adventuring by allowing the cat to have brief, positive experiences in the beginning, and slowly building up their tolerance for travel away from their familiar environment.

Starting this process with an adventurous kitten of about 12-14 weeks of age may be best, while their curiosity is in high gear.

For more information on cat adventuring, check out AdventureCats.org.

Why Veterinarians Hate Automatic Dry Food Cat Feeders

In the movies, Garfield the cat, the overly plump feline who’s always in search of food and adventure, is great for a laugh.

In the real world, however, obesity in cats leads to unhealthiness, illness, and even death. Diabetes, arthritis, urinary obstruction, skin problems, and cancer are much more prevalent in obese cats than normal weight cats.

In the wild, cats spend most of their waking hours (not necessarily daylight hours) hunting for food, defending their territory, and caring for young or finding a mate. In today’s world, pet cats often get little exercise and find calories very easily in their dish – no hunting required.

Why Veterinarians Hate Automatic Dry Food Cat Feeders | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dry vs. Canned Cat Food

Dry cat food is very calorie dense and only about 10% moisture. Alternatively, canned cat food is 90% moisture and has many fewer calories per ounce, more similar to the little critters cats catch in the wild.

Because dry food is so calorie dense, it doesn’t take too many bites to fulfill a cat’s calorie needs. Yet a cat’s instinct to eat until full remains. Some cats can self-regulate and remain slim, but most see the smorgasbord and lose control. Others may not be eating at all, but the change isn’t readily apparent.

Auto Feeder = Calorie Dispenser

Enter the automatic dry cat food feeder, dispenser of calories, often with little regard to a cat’s true needs or consumption. Set it and forget it.

The dry food feeder’s purpose is owner convenience – keep the bowl full, regardless of whether Fluffy ate a little or a lot. Most automatic dry cat food feeders lull cat owners into not paying close attention to what their cat(s) are truly consuming, from too much to too little. In fact, a cat may be ill and eating very little, but the change is difficult to spot for several days or even longer.

The Temptation of Automatic Cat Feeders

Vacation season is upon us. Automatic feeders tempt cat owners to consider leaving cats for extended periods without daily supervision from a pet sitter, kind neighbor, or boarding facility. Most veterinarians have stories of calls from distraught cat owners just returning after a weekend or week away from home to find their cat in dire straits because the cat feeder malfunctioned, or the feeder is still full and the cat wasn’t eating, or the cat developed a medical emergency (such as a urinary blockage), yet no one was there to notice. The money saved on a pet sitter or boarding turns into an afterthought in the regret of the current reality of an ill or dead cat.

It can be a hassle every morning and evening with a cat intertwined around your legs, begging for food while you’re trying to get to work or make dinner. But those moments of carefully monitoring what your cat is eating is time well spent, both in terms of your cat’s physical health and promoting the beautiful bond between you and your cat.

And besides, veterinarians recommend feeding cats primarily wet food because it more closely mimics their natural nutritional and hydration needs. So forgo that automatic dry feeder and stick to meal feeding your cat two to three times a day.

Wet Food Cat Feeders

On the other hand, automatic wet food cat feeders, which require daily washing, filling, and setting, offer some convenience. They provide 2-6 small wet food meals per day.

If a cat isn’t eating well, it’s apparent within 24 hours. Our favorite one includes a freezer pack to keep the food fresh. These do make sense.

4 Remedies for Hairballs in Cats

May is the month we see the most shedding in our kitty patients – and the most hairball-related vomiting. Shedding is a normal process that occurs all year long, but seems to be at its peak in Seattle cats in May and June.

Typically fastidious about their personal hygiene, cats spend up to a quarter of their day grooming themselves.

Their rough tongues catch loose hair, which is swallowed and usually passes unnoticed through their GI tract. When a larger amount of hair has accumulated in the stomach, however, cats have a unique talent of vomiting up a trichobezoar, or “hairball” (although it’s hardly shaped like a ball).

Hairballs and Shedding in Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

This is protective measure that usually works just fine to rid the cat of excessive hair in its stomach. Occasionally, the trichobezoar grows so large it cannot pass out of the stomach or blocks the intestinal tract, requiring emergency surgery to remove it. Fortunately, these occurrences are rare.

Other times, cats are vomiting hairballs more frequently than normal, indicating some other underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed (besides having the carpet cleaners on speed dial).

Cats that vomit hairballs more than once a month (except in May and June, perhaps twice a month), may be grooming excessively. Or, the frequent hairballs may be a result of inflammatory bowel disease, food sensitivity, or an intestinal motility problem. It’s time to give us a call and schedule an appointment.

4 Common Remedies for Hairballs

Here are four ways to remedy hairballs.

1. Hairball diets

Over the past 15 years, “hairball diets” and “hairball treats” have become common place in the world of cat food. These diets and treats are usually higher in fiber and are thought to help cats pass swallowed hair in their stool. Whether they actually work as advertised seems to vary amongst cats.

2. Hairball Laxatives

Another common remedy is hairball laxatives, typically petrolatum-based (think Vaseline) or oil-based, that is also meant to help a cat pass swallowed hair in their stool. We suggest the oil-based hairball laxatives, but only once a week (not daily). Oil-based hairball laxatives can be harder to find than the petrolatum-based products.

3. Regular Grooming with a Cat Comb

The very best remedy for hairballs (not caused by an underlying medical problem) is regular grooming. During May and June, “regular” can mean twice a day.

Our favorite grooming tool is a nylon comb from the drugstore, or you can purchase a cat comb from a pet store. Nylon combs are inexpensive, their teeth are rarely sharp, and they can be tossed in the dishwasher to clean.

Try dipping the comb in a tumbler of water, tap it on the edge of the glass to remove most of the water, then comb your kitty in the direction the hair grows.

Most, but not all, cats enjoy grooming if it doesn’t hurt. It’s a social thing cats do for each other when they like each other. The damp comb helps pick up more hair, keeps it from flying around your home, cleans the kitty, and prevents static electricity so you don’t “zap” your cat (who would no longer find grooming much fun after that!).

It’s best to start regular grooming as a kitten so your cat, however, even many adult cats like it if you’re gentle.

4. Lion Cuts

Some extra furry kitties come see us in May or June for a lion cut because their heavy coats cause them to shed A LOT.

Our nurses love doing lion cuts, and most extra furry cats like them too (however, occasionally we have to provide light sedation to accomplish the task).

Lion cuts involve clipping the fur on the trunk, but leaving the fur on the “ruff” (neck), head, legs, and tail, thus making the cat look like an adult male lion. Older cats usually act pretty kittenish after a lion cut.

It’s Kitten Season – Here We Go Again!

Warmer temps, sunnier days – the start of another kitten season. We truly adore our kitten patients – those hilarious balls of fluff, curiosity, silliness, and ever-so-sharp teeth!

It’s Kitten Season – Here We Go Again! | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Bless the families that adopt them and provide love and appropriate care – good nutrition, training, parasite prevention, vaccines, and spay or neuter surgery.

Sadly, the annual hordes of kittens are starting to land at the humane society, cat rescue, animal shelter, Craig’s list, and coyote dinner plate. These little ones are a result of the effect of longer daylight on unspayed, neglected momma cats (owned and feral), causing them to go into heat.

Their kittens are adorable, but it makes us sad to know not all these kittens will find loving homes and many will be euthanized.

Momma cats can have two litters a year, and their first litter often has litters of their own within those 12 months. It’s a situation that repeats itself every year.

Make a difference for cats. Today.

  1. Make sure your cat is spayed or neutered before age 6 months so he or she doesn’t contribute to the overpopulation problem. Altered cats live longer, healthier lives.
  2.  Consider adopting an adult cat (even more likely to be euthanized to make room for a “more adoptable” kitten).
  3. Volunteer at a cat rescue, helping feed and care for some of those tiny fluffs who may be still on a bottle.
  4. And donate – cash, marketing skills, IT skills, serviceable towels and cat carriers gleaned from Goodwill, cat food, litter boxes, etc.

You can make a difference for cats.


Tiny Tim & Bubba

How to Defend Against Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats

When we think of Lyme disease, most of us think, “East Coast problem,” right?

Not so. Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, is increasing in the Western US, particularly in the Southern Cascades and along the Oregon coast.

Dogs, cats, and humans (along with many other animals) can become infected with Lyme disease when they are bitten by an infected tick that has been attached to the skin for 24-36 hours.

The longer a tick is attached, the greater the chance of infection. The Lyme disease bacteria can establish a long-term infection that affects the heart, kidneys, joints, and brain.

Signs of Infection

Signs of infection include fever, lethargy, lameness, stiffness, pain, vomiting, and diarrhea – signs shared by several other diseases.

How to Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com
It is important to note that the typical “bulls-eye” rash that commonly effects people with Lyme disease is uncommon in dogs.

Treatment for Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is still relatively rare in the Pacific Northwest, but is increasingly showing up on local veterinarians’ “diagnostic radar” of possibilities when a pet presents with the clinical signs of the disease.

Fortunately, new diagnostic tests are available that help us determine infection more quickly. If treated early with appropriate antibiotics, Lyme disease in pets can cured. If treatment is delayed, however, the disease frequently progresses to severe kidney or liver failure and death.

Defending Against Lyme Disease

The first line of defense against Lyme disease and any other tick-borne disease is a rigorous tick control program.

  1. Consider one of the new tick preventives for pets, such as one of the chewables for dogs (Simparica or Bravector) or topicals for cats (Bravecto or Catego).
  2. Keep pets away from potentially tick-infested areas (tall grass, low brush, and wooded areas) if possible.
  3. Conduct a daily tick inspection of yourself and your pet after traversing these areas.

What to do if You Find a Tick

  1. If you do find a tick on yourself or your dog, the tick should be safely removed with tweezers as soon as possible, pulling straight back to make sure the tick is completely removed; otherwise, tick mouth parts can remain embedded and infection is still possible.
  2. The bite area, your hands, and the tweezers should be disinfected.
  3. Save the tick in zippered sandwich bag for identification and possible testing.

If you are uncertain how to safely remove a tick from your pet, please contact us and we will make a same-day appointment to remove the tick from your pet.

Lyme Vaccines

Better Lyme vaccines are now available for dogs travelling to Lyme disease endemic areas – the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic region, and Florida.

The Lyme vaccine does not provide complete protection against the disease, but is still worth considering for dogs travelling to high-risk areas.

  • We recommend beginning the Lyme vaccine series 7-8 weeks prior to your trip.
  • Dogs 12 weeks of age or older should initially receive two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart, then an annual booster thereafter if they travel back to or remain in the high-risk area.

Learn more about Lyme disease in dogs

Learn more about Lyme disease in cats 

May Special

Purchase 12 doses of flea and tick preventive and get a complimentary nail trim for your pet. For more info, call us at (206) 323-4433.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Fleas & Ticks Aren’t Far Behind

More than an itchy nuisance, fleas are blood-sucking, disease-spreading insects. Although tiny and flightless, fleas can jump 7-13 inches and show no respect for property lines and door sills.

Female fleas can lay over 5,000 eggs in their lifetime and live up to 18 months.

A single pregnant flea can cause a population explosion of fleas on your pet and in your home.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Fleas & Ticks Aren’t Far Behind | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Fleas have been around for millions of years, causing itchy misery and spreading diseases like tapeworms and life-threatening bacteria and viruses affecting animals and people. For example, fleas spread the bacteria that causes The Plague, a disease that killed thousands in Europe in the Dark Ages and is still found today in places as near as Eastern Oregon.

Ticks…A Growing Concern in the Pacific Northwest and Worldwide

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids, not insects, and are implicated in the spread of a number of life-threatening diseases that affect humans and animals. They can harbor bacteria, viruses, and protozoal parasites, sometimes more than one at a time.

Slow-moving and unable to jump, they lay in wait on grass or leaves until their prey walks by, then grab on for the ride.

Ticks can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, and erlichiosis, to name a few.

Unfortunately, one of the many side effects of warmer temperatures is that ticks are increasing in abundance and geographical range throughout the world. Once a realm of warmer, humid southern areas of the US, ticks and tick-borne diseases have spread north and occur in all 50 states and Canada.

A similar phenomenon has occurred in Europe. Tick migration mostly occurs through the movement of animals upon which ticks feed. Small mammals can transport ticks short distances, but migrating deer and, especially, birds can carry the intrepid hitchhikers into new territories where they once did not exist.

Our Western Washington “Emerald Isle” has more ticks.

New Products Make Flea & Tick Prevention Easier for Pets

Fortunately, defense for pets against fleas and ticks continues to improve since the introduction of fipronil (Frontline) in 1995, a safe-but-messy topical that helped prevent fleas and ticks in cats and dogs.

Today, better products help prevent these parasites. Our favorites are the new oral chews that have come on the market in the past two years that quickly kill fleas and ticks.

No more messy topical medication or stinky collar, just a tasty “treat” that safely and effectively prevents fleas and ticks from 30-90 days, depending on the product.

Additionally, new laboratory tests help us spot tick-borne diseases faster, sometimes before they even cause disease symptoms.

You know the 4DX lab test we recommend for your dog every year? Well, test #1 screens for heartworm disease, but #2-4 are screens for tick-borne illnesses – Lyme disease, erlichiosis, and anaplasmosis.

Hey ticks, we’re watching.

Better Lyme disease vaccines are now available for dogs traveling to Lyme disease endemic areas – the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida.

We recommend your dog begins the Lyme vaccine series 7-8 weeks prior to your trip back East, in addition to using one of the newer tick prevention products and taking precautions, such as keeping your dog out of tall grass or wooded areas if possible, and doing a daily tick inspection of yourself and your dog.

May Special

Purchase 12 doses of flea and tick preventive and get a complimentary nail trim for your pet. For more info, call us at (206) 323-4433.

Acupuncture: This Ancient Healing Art Helps Pets, Too!

An ancient healing art developed in China more than 4000 years ago, acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that enhances a body’s natural healing abilities.

Acupuncture: This Ancient Healing Art Helps Pets, Too! | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Munroe uses acupuncture to treat a dog.

What is Animal Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves inserting very fine, sterile needles into specific points mapped over the body. The needles stimulate circulation, stimulate the release of hormones, and help restore the body’s natural balance.

Dr. Tricia Munroe | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Tricia Munroe, cVMA, CCRT, completed her training and certification in veterinary acupuncture in 2015.

Animal acupuncture should only be performed by a trained and certified veterinary acupuncturist. Dr. Tricia Munroe, cVMA, CCRT, completed her training and certification in veterinary acupuncture in 2015 and has been using the technique to provide our patients with an additional therapy option.

Conditions that Acupuncture Can Improve

More and more pet owners are trying acupuncture for their furry family members. Pain management is one of the most common uses for acupuncture, often in conjunction with a more traditional treatment plan.

Several common conditions effecting animals can improve with the addition of acupuncture treatment, including:

  • arthritis and back pain
  • immune disorders
  • decreased appetite
  • asthma
  • allergies
  • skin conditions
  • intestinal problems (diarrhea and constipation)
  • metabolic problems (liver and kidney disease)
  • anxiety
  • urinary incontinence

During Therapy…

Pets typically relax and enjoy acupuncture therapy. The tiny pinch caused by the needle insertion is very tolerable and often unnoticed. Many pets relax and fall asleep while they wait the 15-30 minutes before the needles are removed.

Acupuncture: This Ancient Healing Art Helps Pets, Too! | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Munroe uses acupuncture to treat a dog.

Initially, Dr. Munroe recommends acupuncture on a weekly basis, but as a pet’s condition improves, treatment sessions are often changed to a monthly or as needed basis.

About Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the safest medical therapies, using no chemicals or medications. Veterinary acupuncture was approved as an alternative therapy by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1988. A new development in animal acupuncture is the use of therapeutic lasers instead of needles.