Why should I pick it up?

Dog fouling, it’s not just a ‘litter’ issue, it’s against the law!

We’ve all been there, that familiar squish underfoot and immediately identifiable pungent odour that wrinkles the noses of even the strong stomached, you’ve trodden in someone else’s dog poo!! But apart from the obvious annoyance, wiping of shoes on the grass and trying to get it out of the cracks in your trainers, why is it such a problem?

Unfortunately our four legged friends can be quite merrily carrying around diseases and parasites that not only pose a risk to their doggy friends, but to us and particularly children. There are around 6.8 million dogs in the UK, with an estimated production of 900 tonnes of faeces everyday!! That’s a lot of poo!

Apart from the potential risk of some stomach churning bacteria such as Campylobacter, which could lose you a few days sitting on the toilet, or worse a trip to hospital, the biggest public health risk is a parasite called Toxocara canisT. canis is a type of intestinal roundworm, they are the ones that look like spaghetti (I hope no one is reading this over dinner). A responsible pet owner should worm their dog (and any cats out there) every 3-6 months with a reliable worming product, you won’t always see worms in their poo even if they have them.

Young children are more at risk from T. Canis which is transmitted either directly from dog faeces or a contaminated environment. Each female T. canis can lay up to 700 eggs a day and when a dog defecates they are passed out into the environment where the eggs can survive for up to three years in soil. During warmer weather the eggs develop into larvae which when ingested migrate through the body. When ingested by a dog the worm follows it natural life cycle and ends up as an adult in the digestive system (where it can cause irritation, diarrhoea and vomiting). However people are not part of the worms’ normal life cycle and so when the larval stages are ingested by us they can cause nasty reactions and tissue damage. The larvae sometimes migrate to the liver and can cause abdominal pain and fevers, or can migrate to the eyes and cause visual impairment or even blindness by damaging the retina (the back of the eye).

So the moral of the story is, always carry poo bags with you when out walking your dog (we know it’s easy to forget sometimes) and more importantly pick up your dogs’ poo and dispose of it appropriately!! It is becoming increasingly common for used poo bags to be left lying around, if you’ve bothered to pick it up please put it in a poo bin! The local authorities are also happy for it to be disposed of in general public bins if a poo bin is not available.
It is also important to regularly worm your dog against these parasites, ideally every 3 months with a reliable worming product. Speak to your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets for more information, you’d be amazed how excited they get over a humble dog poo!

More information available at www.gspca.org.gg/page/dog-faeces-facts

Cat Worming – Roundworms and Tapeworms

What are worms?

The two types of worms that commonly affect your dog and cat are roundworms (Toxocara) and tapeworms. The most common type of tapeworm is Dipylidium caninum. However there are other types of worms called lungworms, hookworms and whipworms that can also infect our pets and so treatment and prevention of these is also important.

Roundworms

As their name implies, these are worms which have round bodies.  They are the most common intestinal worm in dogs and cats and they are present in most puppies and kittens. The worms consume partially digested food in the intestines of our pets and produce microscopic eggs which are then passed in our pet’s faeces. Puppies and kittens with roundworms may expel whole worms as well as eggs into their faeces when young.

How does my pet get roundworms?

Infected animals pass roundworms eggs into the environment from their faeces. Even after the faeces has disappeared the eggs can survive in the environment for up to 3 years. Dogs and cats snuffling in the grass will swallow these eggs and become infected. They will also become infected from eating infected rodents. Once the eggs have been ingested they develop into adult worms inside your pet which then shed more eggs into the environment and the cycle continues.  Puppies and kittens may already be infected before birth from their mother or via their mother’s milk during nursing.

What problems do roundworms cause?

Large numbers can cause weight loss and a pot-bellied appearance to puppies and kittens and weakness or general ill health in adults.  Decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea may be seen. If there are too many worms in the bowel of a puppy or kitten, they can cause a blockage and consequently death. Roundworms are harmful to people and children are at particular risk if infected.  A variety of organs may be affected but the main danger is if the larvae migrate to the eye where they can cause blindness.

How do you treat and prevent roundworms?

Regular worming stops your pet from shedding eggs into the environment, helping to reduce the risks of other people and pets becoming infected. It is very important to implement a strict worming program for your pet even if there are no signs of infestation. We advise worming every two weeks until they are twelve weeks of age and then once every three months on a regular basis for life with a multiwormer.  The wormers we use at the veterinary surgery are broad spectrum and will generally treat all types of worms.  Often supermarket or pet shop wormers will only cover one or two types of worms and therefore if your pet is infected with a different type of worm then the treatment will not be effective.

Other ways you can protect your pets are:

Making sure as a responsible pet owner that you clear up your pet’s faeces and discourage dogs from toileting in areas normally used by children. The eggs are often highly resistant to most common disinfectants and to harsh environmental conditions so removal of faeces is the most effective means of preventing reinfection.

Good hygiene routines are very important for example washing your pet’s bedding and feeding bowls regularly. It is also important to wash our hands and educate children to wash theirs after playing with animals and not to let dogs lick faces.

Pregnant dogs should be wormed in late pregnancy. This will help to reduce potential contamination of the environment for the puppies. All new puppies should be treated by 2 –3 weeks of age and then as mentioned previously.

Tapeworms

These worms live in the small intestine of our pets attaching themselves to the wall by hook-like mouthparts.  They can reach up to 20cm in length and are made up of many small segments carrying eggs. As the worm matures these break off and pass into your pet’s faeces.  Sometimes these rice-like segments can be seen crawling near your pet’s anus or on the surface of their faeces.

How does my pet get tapeworms?

Infected animals pass tapeworm eggs into the environment from their faeces, where they survive for up to a year. Tapeworm eggs can also be eaten by fleas where the eggs continue development. The fleas are then ingested when your pet grooms themselves and the flea is swallowed.  As the flea is digested in their intestines, the tapeworm hatches and anchors itself to their intestinal lining. Tapeworm eggs can also be swallowed by sheep, cattle or rabbits as they graze and if pets are allowed to feed on their carcasses they may become infected.

What problems do tapeworms cause?

Segments from the worm can cause irritation around your pet’s anal area and this can lead to ‘scooting’ along the ground. In large numbers they may cause debilitation and general ill health.   Occasionally if a tapeworm loses its attachment in their intestines it may move into your pet’s stomach and can then be vomited up. Tapeworms are infectious to people although it is quite rare. A flea must be ingested for humans to become infected with the most common type of tapeworm.  Therefore flea control is the best way to prevent human infection. One less common group of tapeworms called Echinococcus (hydatids) is a particular threat to human health and can cause serious disease when humans are infected.  Sheep and humans are the final host. This disease only occurs in particular areas of the UK, mainly large rural farming areas such as Wales.

How do you treat and prevent tapeworm?

Treatment is often the same preparation that is also effective against roundworms.  Hygiene and other precautions as explained before with roundworms are also required. In particular effective control of fleas is important in the management and prevention of tapeworms. Flea control involves treatment of your pets, the indoor environment and any outdoor environment where your pets may reside.  If your pet lives in a flea-infested environment, reinfection may occur in as little as two weeks.  As veterinary supplied medication is very effective, return of the tapeworms is almost always due to reinfection of the environment not failure of the product.

Please click on the video below to watch a video on ‘How Profender Works.’

Useful links:
www.drontalandadvantage.co.uk
www.it’sajungle.co.uk

ESCCAP Leaflet – Are you at risk from parasites?

Cleaning Urine And Faeces Marks In The Home

(kindly reproduced from Behaviour Problems in Small Animals by Jon Bowen&Sarah Heath)

House soiling and marking can begin for a number of reasons but, in some cases it continues purely because your cat can detect the smell of locations where it has previously marked or gone to the toilet. Removing these odours is essential to stopping further soiling.
It is also important to protect the floor and furnishings to prevent urine or faeces from soaking in and leaving a permanent odour.

The best way to remove odours from existing sites is as follows:
Make up 3 sprayer bottles, labelled A, B, and C. They should be filled in accordance with the following instructions:
A: A solution of biological clothes washing powder or liquid in water (approximately 1 part of powder/liquid cleaner to 10 parts of water).
B: Plain water.
C: Surgical spirit (clear surgical spirit, not coloured methylated spirit).Each soiled site should be cleaned in the following way:

Use paper towel to remove urine and faeces
Spray the area with bottle A
Wipe clean with paper towel
Spray with bottle B
Wipe clean and mop dry with paper towel
Spray with bottle C, and allow to dry before allowing the cat into the area

Do not use a reusable cloth for cleaning, as this will spread urine odours from place to place as you clean.
It is advised that you test this cleaning method on a small and inconspicuous area of the carpet or fabric you are cleaning to ensure that it is not damaged.
If you are cleaning curtains or furniture covers that can be removed and washed then machine wash them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Most importantly it is vital that you ask your veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse for help and advice to try and stop the problems which are causing your pet to soil in your house. Special cleaning sprays which helps breakdown the ammonia properties in urine are available from your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets. These can be used alongside the correct cleaning procedure mentioned above. A UV inspection light is also available to help you trace the source of invisible odours and old urine stains.

Preventing further soiling

Faecal odours are relatively easy to remove using the method above, but urine may seep into cracks in flooring and at the edges of furniture so that odours are hard to remove.
Particular problem areas are:

  • Wooden furniture
  • Joints between floorboards or panels of laminated flooring
  • The junction between hard flooring and skirting boards, kitchen cupboards etc.
  • The top edge of skirting boards
  • Grouting between ceramic tiles (on floors or walls)
  • Electrical equipment and electrical outlets

These, and any other potential traps for urine, must be cleaned and sealed so that urine odours do not penetrate.

Wooden furniture should be regularly waxed with a heavy-grade wax polish (not a spray) so that the surface is protected. The feet of wooden chairs and tables can sometimes absorb urine, so these should be protected with a dab of varnish on the underside, if possible.
Joints between wooden floors should be sealed and painted over with at least 2 coats of a high-quality varnish. Gaps between floorboards are easily sealed with rubber or silicone bath sealant, which is available in many colours, before painting over with varnish.

The junction between a wooden or hard floor and the bottom of skirting board should be sealed with a rubber or silicone bathroom sealant. The same method may be used to seal the top edge of skirting board.

Porous grouting may be steam-cleaned or replaced with a waterproof equivalent, and then painted over with an appropriate sealant (sealant for terracotta tiles and grouting is available from most DIY shops).

Electrical equipment such as toasters, kettles, televisions and audio equipment may become targets for spraying, as they heat up and release smells that cats find objectionable. Once they have been contaminated with urine they will release urine odours every time they switch on, which attracts further spray marking. Soiled cooking equipment should be discarded, as it presents a health hazard unless it can be completely cleaned. Audio and TV equipment that has previously been soiled must be cleaned with great care. It may not be possible to remove all traces of urine. Audio equipment may need to be put into a glass fronted rack or cupboard away from access by the cat, and TV equipment covered with a polythene sheet when it is switched off.

Urine getting into electrical outlets can create a serious risk of shock or fire, so access to these locations should be restricted. As an additional protection, electrical outlets can be protected by covering them with cling film. Alternatively a flap of polythene may be taped to the wall above the socket so that it drapes over the outlet and redirects urine over it in the manner of a canopy.

Replacing flooring and soft furnishings

If an area is persistently soiled then urine and faeces odour will soak in and may be very difficult to remove. Consider removing carpets, curtains and soft furnishing that have been badly damaged by urine or faeces. You may be able to have these cleaned professionally.

If carpet or other flooring must be replaced due to soiling then the floor must be scrubbed clean with a biological cleaner as above. Rotten or sodden timbers should be removed and replaced. The floor must be cleaned several times and then allowed to dry before any new flooring is put down. Paint wooden boards with varnish or gloss paint before laying new flooring over them, as this helps to reduce the return of old odours. To prevent urine from soaking through the new flooring, and to prevent remaining odours from returning, it is advisable to put down a layer of thick polythene sheet in overlapping strips before laying the new flooring. Consider putting a layer of polythene between the carpet and underlay, so that any accidental soiling is easier to clean. This extra layer may be put in strategically in locations where the risk of future soiling is highest.

Continuing cleaning

Once you have cleaned a particular spot once, it is tempting to leave it until your cat soils there again. In fact, this means that urine odours will continue to accumulate because one round of cleaning will never be enough to remove all of the odour.

Instead, you should clean each spot several times each week, until it has not been soiled at all for at least 3 weeks. This will remove all odours and reduce the chance of further soiling if your cat has a relapse.

Useful links:
Feline House Soiling
Improving The Indoor Environment For Your Cat
Improving The Outdoor Environment For Your Cat
Introducing New Cats

Feline House Soiling

House soiling is an extremely common problem and is unfortunately one of the most frequently used reasons for re-homing a cat to a rescue centre.

House soiling can be a problem for any cat- male or female, neutered or entire.

It is important to determine whether your cat is showing signs of elimination behaviour or marking behaviour. It can be difficult to differentiate between the two and it is important for us to collect a full clinical history. A video of your cat may also be extremely helpful.

Normal Toileting

Normal toileting has no visual ‘display’ element (unlike marking). Cats dig with their forepaws in loose substrate (litter), then squat and deposit relatively large volumes of urine or faeces in the pit they have made. They then cover over again using the substrate. The material used shouldn’t be too fine as your cat will have difficulty making a pit area. Cat’s don’t like dirty trays as they end up digging up their toilet. Cats generally favour quiet locations where there is some privacy for normal toileting.

It is important to rule out any medical factors causing house soiling issues and a full veterinary examination should be done to rule out any problems.

Older cats may suffer from a loss of control as they may find the litter tray too far away to get to in time. Multiple trays should be provided if this is the case. Osteoarthritis can also cause difficulties for cats getting in and out of the tray and trays are available with the front scooped out so your cat can just walk straight in . Other medical issues may also cause soiling issues for example kidney problemsdiabetesFLUTD and dementia.

Marking behaviour

Marking using urine or faeces is completely different to normal toileting.

Scent marking is perfectly normal and is commonly seen when your cat rubs their cheeks against things in their environment when they are feeling relaxed.When they feel threatened they will tend to scent mark using deposits of urine or faeces to communicate a message that it is part of their territory. The waste products are leaving a specific scent or ‘message’. This can be to another cat or to the owner trying to communicate there is a problem.

Comparison between marking and toileting behaviour

Marking                                                                                                          Toileting

Deposits out in the open/places of behavioural significance                 Deposits in secluded locations

Usually vertical for urine deposits (nose height for cats)                       Horizontal

Variable frequency which can be high                                                        Frequency in keeping with normal toilet

Small amounts in variable number of locations                                       Larger amounts in small number of locations

Standing position for urine                                                                           Squatting associated with digging/burying                                                                                                                                       behaviour

When the cat thinks the smell begins to fade they will top it up again. This obviously becomes a problem if your cat starts to exhibit these behavioural signs indoors. It is important to remember not to punish your cat as this just makes your cat more anxious and therefore more likely to mark.

Marking is seen when your cat has lost its perception of its core territory- a secure area where they eat, sleep and play. The perception of a threat may come from inside or outside the home.
Your cat will investigate the area, reverse up to the site and spray. Their tail will twitch and vibrate and your cat may have a glazed and vacant look on its face. Small to medium volumes may be passed with a strong odour. Usually highly visible locations are selected where the marks will be easily noticed and often vertical surfaces are chosen as this is just the correct height for another cat to sniff at to ‘read the message’.

Objects that heat up and cool down often attract marking behaviour for example TV, audio equipment and toasters.
Bags, shoes and other objects which bring foreign odours into the home may also be targeted.

Possible reasons for marking

It can be difficult to determine the exact reason for scent marking but some possible reasons are:

  • Change in environment-addition of a new cat to the household
  • New cat in the neighbourhood
  • A new baby
  • Decorating, changing furniture or moving house removes the familiar smells which comfort your cat

Immediate action should be taken regarding cleaning the areas. See our information sheet ‘Cleaning Urine and Faeces Marks In The Home’. Areas should be cleaned with a biological cleaner that contains no amnonia compounds, strong odours or bleach. Biological washing powder removes the protein compound and the alcohol removes the fat component. You will always need to clean an area at least 3 times larger than the actual soiled area.

The following information would be helpful to your veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse:

  • age the problem started
  • were they previously well house trained?
  • pattern of deposits-location, frequency and volume
  • behaviour towards present litter facilities
  • where is the tray
  • orientation of deposits-vertical or horizontal surfaces
  • posture of cat during toileting
  • relationship between all the animals in the household
  • presence of owner/animals when soiling occurs (any other animals seen outside)
  • how you (the owner) react to the deposits
  • any household or neighbourhood events coinciding with onset?
  • how does the cat generally react to changes in environment/strangers?

 

A house plan is extremely useful to gauge an idea of the layout including the position of the windows, doors, major furniture, cat’s eating and sleeping arrangements and locations and locations of deposits. Marking on the plan the frequency of deposits at a particular site is also helpful as well as the location of the very first deposit and the most recent.

Picture courtesy of Behaviour Problems In Small Animals by
Jon Bowen and Sarah Heath

Elimination behaviour

Indoor elimination behaviour is usually more straight forward to treat than marking although many of the solutions are the same for both issues.

Possible reasons for Inappropriate Elimination

  • Lack of privacy
  • Unsuitable litter in tray
  • Competition for litter tray
  • Negative association with litter tray-pain or being interrupted by another cat
  • Medical illness-Incontinence or FLUTD (pain with FLUTD may cause the cat to associate the tray with the pain and they will look elsewhere for a toileting area next time)
  • Punishment

Treatment for inappropriate elimination and marking

It is important to ask for advice during the early stages. Many pet owners wait until the problem becomes unbearable before coming to us for help.

Treatment for these behavioural issues can be cured for many cats following veterinary advice but it can be a lengthy process. In some cases the underlying problems can be complex, with a number of factors contributing to the problem and your veterinary surgeon may recommend referral to a qualified feline behaviourist.

  • Stop any punishment
  • Increase the number of litter trays available and locate them for easy access by the cats in the household. As a general rule for a multi cat household there should be one tray per cat and one spare. As a cat owner a litter tray should always be available somewhere in the house for your cat to use should they need to regardless of whether there is a problem with soiling. 
  • Cats depositing faeces outside the tray may have too small a tray or the wrong litter type.Cats have muscle contractions in their back legs when defecating and the wrong type of litter may hurt.
  • Use pheromone therapy to enhance your cat’s sense of security in their core territory.
  • Install a microchip cat flap-especially useful if another cat is entering the house. If your cat can see other cats through the windows it may be helpful to cover them so it increases their feeling of security.
  • More resting, hiding, toileting, eating and drinking locations. Unless a multicat household is related, cats don’t necessarily like to share
  • Move litter trays to quiet areas. If the tray is under the stairs people will be thundering down them, in the conservatory other cats may be watching and if the tray is near the food your cat will tend to move where it toilets if they cannot move where they eat.
  • Make sure litter trays are deep filled-do not use scented litter as cats are sensitive to the smell
  • Try a mixture of open and covered trays
  • Try using a Feliway diffuser near the litter tray site
  • Consider using anti anxiety medications for example Zylkene or Nutracalm

Moving house- It helps to introduce them to a new environment gradually. Confining your cat to one room with their familiar belongings will help decrease their anxiety, gradually allowing further access when they seem relaxed. 

Useful links and websites:
Cleaning Urine And Faeces Marks In The Home
Improving The Indoor Environment For Your Cat
Improving The Outdoor Environment For Your Cat
www.feliway.com
www.sureflap.co.uk