House Soiling in Cats - The Litter Box is Often the Reason
How to Deal with House Soiling in Older Dogs
There are several ways to deal with older dogs who soil in the house. Your first course of action should be to take your dog to the vet. Your vet might recommend dietary changes. The vet might also be able to identify ailments that could be causing your dog to soil in the house. Let your dog out more often and get someone to watch your dog so it doesn’t feel anxious or afraid. Finally, try doggie diapers in order to prevent your elderly dog from making a mess when it can no longer “hold it.”
Managing the Problem
Keep your dog in a smaller space.If you’re out all day and can’t get someone to monitor your dog, you should try to at least limit the damage in the event your dog can’t wait to void until you return. You can do this by putting your dog in a single room, preferably one with a vinyl or tile floor that is easily cleaned up. If you don’t want to give your dog the run of the whole room, you can limit its space even further by placing it in a smaller nook or in a hallway and placing a baby gate (or gates) in a strategic location to keep your dog confined to the smaller space.
- Rooms with carpets are not preferred since they are difficult to clean up if your dog soils them.
Let your dog out more often.If your dog needs to go to the bathroom more often, the easiest thing to do is to put it out more often. Provide opportunities for your dog to go out when it wakes up and before it goes to sleep, especially. Come home doing your lunch break, if possible, to let your dog out.
- If it is not possible to let your dog out frequently during the middle of the day, ask a family member or trusted neighbor to let your dog out while you’re at work or school.
Provide newspaper or a doggy litter box.You may want to give your dog an indoor option for the times when he can’t hold it. Some things you might try include:
- Getting a doggy litter box. Set up a large litter box for your dog. If you notice that he is about to soil in the house, then take him to the litter box. Do this a few times and he may begin to understand that the litter box is an option for him if you are not there to let him out.
- Placing puppy pads or newspaper around the house. You can also show your dog these options when he seems like he is about to soil in the house.
Get someone to watch your dog.Not only can a dog sitter let your dog out more frequently, but they can be there to relieve your dog’s anxiety due to being alone. Feelings of loneliness can contribute to an increase in your dog’s house soiling, especially in older dogs who might be more fearful due to a decline in their senses.
- If you have a family member who can be home with your older dog during the day, you should be able to reduce the number of house soiling incidents your dog has.
- If you don’t have a family member who can help out, hire a pet sitter. You can find pet sitters both online through classifieds and through the recommendations of your friends who also have pets.
- Sometimes you can get neighbors or their teens to pet-sit for you.
- Ensure that your pet sitter, neighbor, or family member understands that your pet is older and needs special attention.
Give your dog its own space.If your older dog suddenly feels it does not have enough space, it might start house soiling in order to mark its territory. For example, if you recently had a baby, obtained another pet, or got married, your dog might now feel cramped for space. Provide your dog with a spacious crate and/or comfortable dog bed where it feels secure. Your dog can retreat there to self-soothe when it feels stressed and house-soiling incidents will (hopefully) decline.
Use sanitary products.Doggie diapers are like regular diapers, wearable items designed to manage your older dog’s accidents. This should be the last thing you try and you should consult your dog’s veterinarian first. To use the doggie diapers, slip your dog’s rear legs through the diaper, lift it up and around its rear end, then seal the diaper using the built-in sealing mechanism.
- Doggie diapers are single-use and available at most pet stores.
- Consult manufacturer directions for more information about how to use your doggie diaper.
Identifying the Causes
Take your dog to the vet.Only a trained veterinarian will be able to determine if your pet’s house soiling is due to a medical condition. You should have a regular vet already, but if you don’t, talk to a friend with a pet or contact a veterinary association for recommendations.
- The American Animal Hospital Association has a veterinarian database at .
Learn more about your dog’s medical condition.If your dog is soiling the house more frequently, it could be due to any number of medical conditions. Your vet should be able to tell you what your pet’s specific condition is and how to solve it. Once your vet informs you of your pet’s condition, ask for resources to learn more about the condition. In addition to information your vet provides, check online and at your local library in order to learn how to best care for your pet. Conditions that might cause increased house soiling include:
- infections of the gut
- kidney disease
- kidney failure
- urinary incontinence
- diabetes mellitus
Relieve your dog’s stress.Increased stress can cause a dog – no matter its age – to go to the toilet in the house. The most common source of stress is a change in your dog’s living conditions, especially the introduction of a new pet or baby. Think about recent changes you’ve made to your dog’s living arrangements. Pay special attention to changes that coincided with an increase in house soiling in your older dog. Remove these stressors if possible or find ways to relieve your dog’s stress such as:
- Provide an adequate amount of exercise for your dog. Take your dog for a walk. Give your dog an adequate amount of time to run around outside and explore (for instance, by letting your dog play in the yard).
Supporting an Older Dog’s Health
Don’t view the soiling problem in isolation.Older dogs often have a host of related issues pertaining to both emotional and physical health that could be linked to their house-soiling behavior. Just because your dog is getting old, it doesn’t mean that you cannot do anything to help them. Confronting your dog’s other health issues may help you better deal with their house-soiling.
Look for anxiety or fear.If you notice your dog is startled by sounds that used to cause only curiosity (or elicit no reaction), or is cowering behind furniture when another person comes over, your dog might be experiencing a decline in confidence. There are a number of specific conditions that can cause anxiety or fear in an older dog, including Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s) or a decline in your dog’s sense of smell, sight, or hearing.
- Be gentle with your older dog if it demonstrates that it is becoming fearful or anxious.
- Approach your dog from the front so it can see you if you notice a decline in its sense of sight or sound.
- This change in behavior might also be due to pain or physical discomfort. Take your older dog see the vet if it becomes fearful where it previously was not.
- If your dog’s sight is failing, try to keep your furniture in its usual place so your dog can easily locate it and navigate the house.
Look for aggression and irritability.Some dogs, like some people, become grouchy in their old age. Your older dog might become combative with other dogs, especially younger puppies. If your dog starts barking, quarreling with other dogs, or growling at other dogs or people, take it to a vet.
- Additionally, try to reduce the number of irritating stimuli in your dog’s environment. For instance, limit your dog’s contact with other dogs and puppies, or whatever it is that sets your dog on edge.
- Your dog’s irritability might be due to pain, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or loss of its sight, smell, or hearing. Your vet will be able to offer more advice.
Keep an eye out for depression.Depression is not uncommon in older dogs. Unfortunately, dogs cannot talk about their feelings. But they will communicate that something is wrong through their actions. If your dog doesn’t eat as much as it usually does, spends more time sleeping, and seems nervous for no particular reason (evidenced by walking back and forth along a stretch of the house or whimpering for no particular reason), it might be depressed.
- To combat your dog’s depression, provide more opportunities for play, and take your dog for daily walks.
- Your dog also picks up on emotional cues from you, so if you’re feeling blue, your dog might too. Both of you could benefit from walking about or meeting a friend (especially if that friend has a dog your older dog could meet).
Check for signs of arthritis.Many signs of arthritis could be confused for depression. For instance, if your dog no longer enjoys playing the games it used to, this might be a sign of depression, but it might also just be age-related arthritis and pain in the dog’s legs. Likewise, an arthritic dog might sleep more than a healthy older dog. But arthritis might also lead your dog to become irritable or aggressive. Finally, an arthritic dog might not want to climb stairs or jump on the sofa or bed, or might limp slightly when walking.
- Talk to your vet if you believe your dog has arthritis. Your vet can recommend lifestyle and dietary changes that could help. Your vet might recommend medication for your dog, too.
- Never give your dog arthritis medication designed for humans.
Get your dog regular checkups.As your dog ages, it is increasingly important to be proactive in managing your dog’s health so as to catch illness or medical conditions before they become serious. Chances of heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and other illnesses are all common in older dogs. That way, your dog will have a healthy and happy life, and be able to enjoy its old age.
- Make the most of your time with the vet. If you have questions about caring for your older dog, don’t be shy - ask away!
- Contact your vet whenever you have a question about your dog’s health.
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