If you're not a fan of the protracted, high levels of rainfall we're experiencing on the east coast of Australia, you're not alone.
This year I've seen many companion animals and their owners who have raised concerns about an increase in "accidents" in the house.
For example, Dani, a two-year-old male desexed Himalayan cat lives mostly indoors, with unlimited access to a courtyard. He is one of three cats in the household, as he cohabits with his two sisters.
Normally, he shares a litter tray with them. Since late last year (coinciding with the rain), Dani's outdoor access has been reduced. He has also developed signs of urinary tract discomfort: straining to urinate, attempting to urinate frequently, and urinating just outside of the litter tray.
We treated Dani for cystitis, and recommended some changes at home.
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Meanwhile the owners of Norma, a ten-month-old Cavoodle, are tearing their hair out because she won't toilet outside.
During heavy rains earlier in this year, her owners kept her inside continuously, where she had to eventually toilet. Now, her toilet training has gone "out the window".
And countless dog owners tell me that their dogs won't go outside in the rain because they "don't like getting their feet wet".
... Their dogs won't go outside in the rain because they 'don't like getting their feet wet'.
And more rain is predicted. But these scenarios are a good reminder that we need to ensure that our animals can go to the toilet when they want to.
We don't like to hang on, and they don't either. The following suggestions may help.
1. Even for cats who normally toilet outside, provision of litter trays indoors gives them choice.
2. Provide one tray for each cat in the household, plus one. For Dani's household, that means 3+1 trays, i.e. 4.
3. Cats can have preferences with regards to litter. Some prefer recycled paper, others are happy with clumping litter or crystals. If you aren't sure, offer a selection and work out the favourite.
1. Most dogs need to go out to the toilet at least four times a day (more frequently if they are puppies).
2. Some dogs (especially puppies) are more distracted when it is raining and may take longer.
Take an umbrella and wear a raincoat so you don't have to rush them. Most don't mind getting a little wet, and are happy for a gentle towel-down afterwards.
3. If dogs toilet inside, train them to use a designated spot. For example, you can purchase a dog toilet with artificial grass that dogs can be trained to toilet on. There are also places that sell weekly or fortnightly subscriptions to real grass which can be placed on a balcony or indoors for that purpose.
In general, if animals like to toilet outside and you can, consider erecting a temporary cover to protect them from the rain while they are going.
Animals are more likely to go if you stick to their usual routine as closely as possible. That said, it's also important to take advantages of those windows where there is a break in the weather.
Animals that have access to a cat or dog door can exercise a bit more choice as to when to go outside.
If you are concerned that your pet isn't toileting, or is having trouble in that department, contact your veterinarian.
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