Part of being a good pet owner is being observant. While it’s not a glamorous job, being observant of your pets’ output is necessary to ensure you catch any health issues early. Of course, checking output is important, but equally important is lack of it and oddity of it. Let me explain.
Why I check my cats and dogs’ output
Rarely does one of my cats or dogs pee, poop or get sick without me investigating. Yes, it’s very gross, and no, I do not enjoy it, but when it comes to the health of my pets, I put the disgustingness of it all aside and pay close attention. To me, it’s one of the easiest ways to help gauge the health of your pet.
Watching my cats and dogs go to the bathroom
When one of my cats or dogs goes to the bathroom outside, I’m either checking from the window or standing nearby, waiting for them to finish so I can do an inspection. If it’s one of the cats, I watch them to see if it’s a quick or long squat, indicating if they are having any trouble going, as well as how they act as they go. If it’s poop, I’ll try to get casually, but quickly over to it before they cover it up to check the consistency and for anything odd.
If it’s one of the dogs going to the bathroom, I watch to see if they just go pee once or have to make a few attempts. Even with my full-time outside dogs, I’ll keep tabs on them and their bathroom habits from the window. That’s how I discovered that Roxie, my Great Pyrenees, had a UTI a couple of years ago.
As I was watching Roxie walk across the yard one day, I noticed she would squat to pee, then walk a little further before squatting again another time or two. After I noticed her doing that on more than one occasion, I knew something wasn’t right. She was the first dog I’d ever had get a UTI and it actually turned out to be much worse than that. You can read about that here, http://savingcatsdogsandcash.com/what-i-learned-losing-a-dog-to-cancer/.
Inspecting the output for abnormalities
When looking at the cat or dog poop, I evaluate how soft or hard it is, the color, its contents, and if there is anything unusual in it, like worms or stuff someone shouldn’t be eating. If I notice them straining and then see that their poop is very hard or dry, I know I need to probably give them pumpkin. If it is very soft or diarrhea, I also know I probably need to give them pumpkin. With its high fiber content, pumpkin works well in cats and dogs for both constipation and diarrhea, so I keep it on hand for when the need arises.
If I do see something odd, like a lot of mucus or some blood, I take a mental note of it and make sure I watch the next time that cat or dog goes poop so I can see if the issue has resolved or if it has continued or gotten worse. Luckily, whenever I’ve seen something odd like that, it’s resolved itself without a trip to the vet, but if your cat or dog has ongoing mucus or blood, having a vet do a fecal exam to rule out parasites or anything serious is a good idea.
The biggest thing I’m always watching for in my dogs’ poop
One of the biggest things I look for whenever one of my dogs go poop is worms. Because I don’t just automatically give my pets wormer on a set schedule, I look for signs. Those signs include either scooting, licking of their behind, or evidence in someone’s poop. With no other symptoms usually found, being keen on any unusual behavior or visible evidence has always alerted me to when someone has worms so I can take the necessary steps.
Making sure my cats or dogs actually go to the bathroom
Just as important as watching them go, making sure they go is just as important. A cat or dog that does not go to the bathroom could have a blockage or some other medical condition that could quickly escalate to something very serious. A cat that squats to go but then suddenly takes off without going could have a serious medical issue and needs immediate veterinary care.
My first experience with a cat’s odd litterbox behavior
Shortly after my first cat came along in 2012, like maybe within the first few months if I remember correctly, I was in the kitchen doing something when he ran into the laundry room where the litter box is, jumped in and squatted to go. Suddenly, after a couple of seconds, he jumped out and took off through the house. He then came running back into the laundry room and litter box a couple of minutes later and did it again. I stood watching, not sure if he was just being silly, or if there was something wrong.
KK was the first indoor cat I’d ever had, and I don’t recall ever treating the barn cats we had as a kid for anything, so I was very inexperienced in cat health. After watching KK’s weird behavior go on for another few minutes, and it being almost the weekend, I decided better to be safe than sorry, so I called my vet. I remember it was like a Friday at 4:50, so as I quickly grabbed my phone, I remember hoping that my vet’s office was still open.
Luckily, my vet was still in the office and she told me it sounded like a UTI and prescribed some antibiotics. I ran to town and picked them up and raced back home to start administering them. KK made a full recovery and I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of paying attention to my cats’ bathroom habits. The frightening part was that the vet told me a blockage could kill a male cat within 24 hours.
I’m not sure what caused KK to get that UTI. He was on wet food and whatever critters he caught outside, but fortunately, he nor anyone else has had a UTI since. That incident made me very glad I was home to catch the issue immediately and my vet picked the right antibiotic that worked. If you ever see this type of behavior happening with your cat or them using someplace other than the litterbox, a trip or at least a call to your vet is a good idea. It may be something very serious that can have fatal consequences if not treated quickly.
Using your instincts, experience, and resources vs. seeking help when something comes up
Now that I’ve seen what a UTI in a cat and dog looks like, and I have more resources at my disposal, I feel confident enough to treat any future cases at home. That’s definitely not the case for most people, so if you suspect anything when it comes to your cat using the litterbox, I recommend getting to the vet asap.
After my scare with KK, I bought these pills, https://amzn.to/2LNBzFX that I gave him for a while to make sure he didn’t have any more issues. After a while, the fear of another episode faded and I stopped giving them without any reoccurrence of a UTI.
If you have a feral cat or feel confident treating your cat at home, apple cider vinegar, which is cheap and I believe every household with a cat or dog should keep on hand for numerous issues, is highly touted as a UTI treatment on my goto site, earthclinic.com. Here’s the link with the details for cats, https://www.earthclinic.com/pets/cats-urinary-tract-infections.html. And here’s the link with details for dogs, https://www.earthclinic.com/pets/bladder-infection-dogs.html.
Paying close attention when your cat or dog throws up
Unfortunately, the investigation doesn’t end at cat or dog bathroom, it also extends to when someone throws up. Luckily for me, that is very infrequent, but it is very important nonetheless. You can tell a number of things by what your pet throws up and therefore allows you to treat, if necessary, accordingly.
When one of my dogs gets sick, it’s usually due to one of three things. They ate too fast, they haven’t eaten in a while so they throw up slimy yellow bile, or they ate something that they shouldn’t have, like a dead animal of some sort. When I see one of those three things, yes, I gag, but I don’t panic. If it’s ever something that scares me, like blood, or something else that clearly is not normal, I’ll be researching it and possibly calling my vet. So far, I’ve never had an incident of a dog vomiting that has necessitated a vet trip, but I still check when one of them gets sick, just to be safe.
When one of my cats get sick, it’s usually due to one of four things. They ate too much too quickly, they haven’t eaten in a while so they throw up bile, they have an upset stomach from something/someone they’ve eaten, usually from outside, or occasionally with my two long-haired cats, a mass of hair.
If one of my cats gets sick right after eating, I pretty much know why they are throwing up and what to expect. If I awake to someone getting sick in the morning hours, it’s usually due to not eating and I know what to expect. I am usually thrown by the gross whatever they ate last vomit that comes with an upset stomach, but it’s helped me build character. And finally, occasionally I do find the gross mass of hair, but that is so far and few between, you can hardly even count it, but I did want to mention as it has happened a couple of times.
Like with the dogs getting sick, I don’t panic if I see what I’m accustomed to seeing. I have found worms before in my cats’ vomit, so that is always a possibility and one of the reasons why I always check thoroughly. With no other symptoms, when a cat gets sick, that’s one of the first things I always check for, and if necessary, treat.
The necessity of one of the grossest jobs as a pet owner
Like the dogs, I’ve never encountered anything in the cats’ vomit that has given me cause to panic, and even though I’ve been cleaning up vomit that has not been anything to be concerned about for years now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being vigilant about checking. I feel like despite it easily being one of the grossest things I have to do as a pet owner, it is that important.
Part of being a pet owner is dealing with the good, bad, and gross aspects of it. While I have built up quite a tolerance over the years for the gross, I understand there are those that can’t or won’t go to such extreme lengths. If you fall into the latter category, just understand that there are lots of clues about their health in your pets’ bathroom habits and vomit that may be the only or first sign you get that there is something bigger/worse going on.
If you can’t stomach checking your pets’ output, and abnormal bathroom or vomiting behavior isn’t an occasional thing with your pet, please take your cat or dog to the vet. Take a sample of the poop or vomit if possible, and the vet can run tests and do an exam to hopefully determine the issue for you. The peace of mind of it being nothing, or the discovery of it being something that needed treatment should be incentive enough to overcome the ickiness of the situation.
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