This year, many of us have spent a lot more time at home with our pets. But staring at our favorite furry friends day in and day out can have its consequences: like overthinking! Our Pawp vets have seen an uptick in silly everyday pet questions that puzzle many pet owners. But the most important lesson here is that there are no stupid questions, especially when you have a 24/7 online vet on call to answer them!
Every week, Pawp vets answer interesting questions from users for concerns big and small. In our last edition of “Ask A Vet”, Pawp’s vets discussed spaying and disease prevention. This week, they’ll get into some “sillier” questions that are just as valid, like sharing a bed with your pet and smelly poop.
Let’s stop the shame! There’s nothing inherently weird about sharing a bed with your pet, it’s really a matter of your personal preference. Studies show that sharing a bed with your pet won’t necessarily disrupt your sleep if you’re okay with a few of the side effects (like increased risk of tick/flea exposure, pet dander, or extra snoring). Sleeping with your pet may have psychological benefits too like emotional support and bonding (and some extra warmth too). These same studies indicate that sleeping with your pet won’t affect their sense of boundaries either, so if you can deal with the hair (and occasionally dirty paws), sleep away!
Urine-marking behaviors like spraying often occur when your dog isn’t spayed or neutered. While spaying/neutering might solve your dog’s spraying problem, it won’t always, especially if it’s become a learned behavior. If this is the case, you can take several steps to untrain your dog, similar to techniques used in general housebreaking. Clean affected areas and try to make your dog associate them with something they won’t want to mark, like a place for treats or toys. You can also try and make these places difficult to access or enjoy for your dog. If there’s an environmental factor at play making your dog spray (like a new pet or general anxiety), identify the cause and teach your dog to associate it with something positive (food generally works!). Crate training is also an option if you can’t watch your dog while home.
Stinky dog poop is an unfortunate (but common) problem. Does your dog’s poop suddenly smell bad or has this always been the case? Changes in diet or ingesting something not meant to be ingested can cause your dog to have diarrhea. Stinky dog poops may also be the result of parasites or a larger infection. If you’re concerned about your dog’s poop, talk to a vet. Be prepared to describe your dog’s fecal sample by color, smell, consistency, and how frequently they go. Once you discover the reason your dog’s poop smells, you can resolve it.
While humans may try to train cats, cats absolutely train humans. Generally the reason a cat wakes you up in the morning (or interacts with you, ever) is for food. And at some point when the cat started waking you up at 4 am, they were rewarded, which makes them eager to continue the behavior. Ignoring your cat won’t fix the problem, you need to re-train them. An automatic cat feeder is a great tool: Set the timer to dispense food for your cat slightly earlier than they wake you up so they can’t even attempt it! The next day, set it a few minutes later (and the next day, the same) until your cat is back on their regular morning schedule (and you are blissfully sleeping).
Cats are famously hygienic creatures, but not every cat is well groomed. Most short-haired cats should be fine without regular bathing, but cats with longer coats may benefit from occasional baths to ensure their hair stays healthy and unmatted. Other factors that affect whether a cat should be bathed are activity level, oiliness, and overall health. Cats may need to be bathed if they get into something that stinks or a place with parasites like fleas, mites, lice, and ticks. When bathing you should use cat-friendly shampoo. Many cats aren’t huge fans of water, so make sure you soothe, give treats, and have a lot of towels on hand. There are also cat-friendly hygienic wipes for those who want to clean their cats with fewer scratches involved.