Facebook questions answered with Dr. Fiona Caldwell

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Dr. Fiona Caldwell's photo.
Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

Pets Best Insurance solicited questions from our Facebook page fans relating to pet health, happiness and everything in between. Dr. Fiona Caldwell, a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital weighs in! Read on to see if your question was answered:

Question: We adopted my Mom’s female cat when Mom passed away a few months ago. Our two male cats have begun spraying all over the house. Please tell me how to get them to stop!!!

Dr. Caldwell: Inappropriate urination can be a very frustrating part of owning cats! The very first thing that needs to be done is to ensure there isn’t a medical reason, such as urinary tract infection or feline cystitis as a cause for the inappropriate urination. Do this by making an appointment to see your veterinarian. Some medical causes can be serious, including bladder stones. After your veterinarian has determined this is a behavioral problem, there are some things you can do to help.

First, ensure you have at least one litter box for each cat, even an additional one over that number can sometimes be helpful. If you have three cats, at least 3, if not 4 boxes are needed. You must keep the boxes extremely clean. Scoop daily. If your male cats are spraying vertical surfaces, such as walls, furniture, etc this means they are marking their territory, which could be due to some underlying anxiety. The addition of the new cat is likely responsible for this anxiety, but you can try to ease their transition to multi-cat household.

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It sounds silly, but try making the litter boxes as private as possible. If a cat is shy about using it, or feels exposed, or if another cats gang up on it when it is using the box, the cat may develop an aversion to the box. Make sure the size, depth of litter and type of litter is one they like. Cats are incredibly picky about this. You may have to experiment with scented and unscented and clumping and non-clumping litter to determine the best one.

Also, it is VERY important to completely clean the soiled urine spot with an enzyme cleaner. If the cat can still smell the urine there, it will attract additional spraying. You may even consider a professional cleaner if the staining is severe. If you are still having problems, go back to your veterinarian. There are some anti-anxiety medications and feline pheromone sprays that might be beneficial for you.

Question: My 7 yr old Chihuahua is losing his teeth and it smells really bad he doesn’t let me near his mouth he cries when I try what can I do about the smell?

Dr. Caldwell: It is very important that you take your Chihuahua to a veterinarian for a complete oral examination. Undoubtedly he will need a complete profession dental cleaning, possibly with extractions of the diseased teeth. In addition to being smelly, the infected teeth can injure the liver, heart and ultimately short his life. Please do this as soon as you are able.

Question: What to do when a cat suddenly swallows a foreign object, like an elastic hair tie. I have a cat who gulps down little things that get dropped (instantly – no chewing or anything!), and is time I didn’t get to it before he did!

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Dr. Caldwell: This can be a very serious medical emergency, especially with cats and string-type objects, like dental floss or sewing thread. The best thing to do in this situation is to contact your veterinarian if this happens. Some small objects can pass without harm, but the safest thing to do is seek medical advice.

Question: Appreciate any suggestions for resources we can check out to help us better care for a dog we recently adopted that has a neurological issue preventing him from walking very far before he spins and falls. Have seen vet specialists and xrays do not reveal much.

Dr. Caldwell: This sounds like a frustrating issue and I applaud your efforts to diagnose him thus far. If I can give you any advice, it is to continue to seek out new opinions, just because one veterinarian is stumped doesn’t mean that another one is. Keep trying! You might seek the nearest veterinary university setting in your area. Depending on where you live this may be quite far, even in another state. Most have research and teaching hospitals that handle referrals from all over the nation, as well as challenging and unusual cases.

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