Why Does My Dog… Get in the Litterbox?!

They’re Bored!   For indoor dogs, especially those home alone all day, raiding the cat box can be exciting!  Making sure your pup is tired and has burned off all that extra energy can be very helpful.  At least 1 to 2 walks per day is highly recommended, as well as play throughout the day to help dispel some of that extra energy.

It Tastes Good As gross as this may be, your pup may just enjoy the taste of cat feces.  Considering the fact that cat feces probably tastes like cat food, it makes sense that dogs would choose to snack on that if given the chance.

Deficiency in Nutrients Eating cat feces may be a clue to a vitamin deficiency in your dog’s diet.  If you suspect this is the case, be sure to consult with your veterinarian at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital.  The doctor might recommend a chance in your dog’s food formula to alter the amounts of fat, fiber, protein, or vitamin B that your pet receives from their food.  In general, if your pet is healthy and on a high-quality diet, they should not need vitamin supplementation to stay healthy.

If your dog only seems to get into the litter box when you’re not home, try leaving something to distract them!  Maybe a frozen treat or a puzzle toy to keep them busy while you’re gone.

Boarding Your Dog



Many owners say that they will never leave their dog in boarding kennels. However, situations may occur in which you are unable to take your dog with you. During these times, you have the following options:

  • The dog stays at home and you arrange for a friend or relative to “dog sit” in your home while you are away.
  • You arrange for a friend or neighbor to care for your pet in their home. This works well when the dog knows the home and the people. However, there is always a risk that your dog may escape and get lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
  • You arrange for your dog to go to a boarding kennel. This is probably the safest option since well-designed kennels are safe and secure. Many boarding facilities are associated with veterinary hospitals and are staffed with trained professionals to care for your pet.

Will my dog be happy in a boarding kennel?

Many dogs are very happy when they stay in kennels and look forward to going. You should plan well in advance and make sure to visit the kennels beforehand to verify that the facility meets your expectations.  Some kennels will recommend a series of short boarding visits lasting a few hours to allow your dog to become accustomed to being away from you.

How will I know if my dog will relax in the kennel?

Despite the fears of owners, most dogs settle into boarding life very quickly. It is always worthwhile to board your pet for a weekend or a few days to see how they do before your trip. One or two short stays at a kennel will help your pet adjust to being without you and get used to the boarding facility and staff.  When you pick up your pet, evaluate their general condition. This will give you an indication of the standard of care your pet received. Be sure to ask the kennel staff about your pet’s behavior and appetite. Many pets that are unaccustomed to boarding will have a decreased appetite during their stay. This is normal but frequent, short visits will help reduce your pet’s anxieties.

Are there any requirements necessary before boarding my pet?

All pets that are boarded should be current on their vaccinations. Rabies, distemper and upper respiratory (“kennel cough”) vaccines are universally required. Most boarding kennels will require written proof of vaccination and all applicable pet licenses prior to boarding your pet. Any special medical problems or dietary requirements should be fully discussed before boarding your pet at a kennel. Be sure to call and find out what is required prior to your visit to prevent last minute delays.

Special note on Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines: The bordetella/parainfluenza vaccine, that we give here at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital, is effective in your dog’s system for 12-14 months per recent vaccine research by the American Animal Health Association.  Many boarding facilities, because it is a high-risk environment for dogs to contract kennel cough, require this vaccine every 6 months.

Call and speak with a technician at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital to get some recommendations for local boarding, petsitting, and doggie daycare options!  (520) 624-6100

© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. May 15, 2015

Creating a Low-Stress Visit

We understand that the biggest concern for many pet owners at the time of their visit is whether or not their pet will feel comfortable during their visit. We know that many pets experience anxiety during visits to the vet, but we don’t want those negative associations for our veterinary hospital. In order to eliminate all stresses for our patients, all of our veterinary staff are trained in the low-stress handling techniques taught by veterinary behaviorist Sophia Yin, to ensure that your pet is comforted during their veterinary visit. We make it our priority to ensure that your beloved pet feels calm and relaxed at our hospital.


Pet Owner Relaxation:

Ever notice that you pets can take on your emotions? Using your usual voice, and not rushing the process of getting there is very beneficial in reducing apprehension.  Keep them hungry: Unless there is a medical reason, pet owners should bring hungry pets to appointments; this allows them to be fed treats by the staff and reduce the risk of an upset stomach on the trip to the office.  It’s also a great idea to fast your pet prior to a vet visit, just in case they need any blood work checked while they’re here!

Car Rides:

For many pets, car rides symbolize a trip to the veterinarian, or some other unwelcome change. Adding some enjoyable car rides between veterinary visits will make the trip feel more normal.  Try a car ride to visit a favorite place, a park, a friend and reward them for good behavior on the ride.  Take lots of short-trips and reward them for calm behavior.  Also be sure to make the car comfortable for them, and provide them with a soft place to lie on during the ride. Speak normally, and playing soft music encourages their sense of well-being.

Pet Carrier Issues:

Much like car rides, pets also associate their carriers with vet visits. Clients should use pet carriers as cozy dog and cat retreats at home, which helps them associate it with a safe place to be.  Keeping the carrier comfy, open, and available at home (with some treats and a favorite blanket and toy inside) will help your pet see their kennel or carrier as a safe “den,” rather than a scary box.  A carrier or crate should NEVER be used for punishment.


There are wipes and sprays available that can be used to promote a sense of calm for your pet. For example, Adaptil for canines or Feliway for felines can be used on carriers, bedding or blankets. Simply spray or wipe 30 minutes or so before you place them in the carrier.

Use ThunderShirts:

With the calming effects of consistent, gentle pressure, many dogs and about 50% of cats will respond well to wearing a Thundershirt while visiting their vet.  The Thundershirt works based on the idea that human infants are kept calm by snug swaddling, and the same is very helpful for our pets.

Don’t Forget Training:

You have likely worked hard on training your pet for various situations whether you know it or not.  If you revert back to training and basic commands, it gives your pet something to focus on while in the waiting room.

Reward your Pet:

Throughout and after a successful pet visit, be sure to reward your pet.  Only reward to calm behavior and try to resist petting or “baby talk” for nervous or rowdy behavior. Give them play time, a treat, bring them to their favorite place or provide a new toy.   This way, their experience is reinforced as a positive one.

source: petwellnessnetwork.com

Flea & Tick Prevention

Collars, Dips, Sprays, and Medication for Flea and Tick Prevention

Fleas and ticks are not only a nuisance, they can also transmit deadly diseases to you and your cat or dog. If left unchecked, you can have a serious problem within your household. There are many options available for cat and dog owners to keep pests at bay, and here we will discuss the most common ones used today. Please use them only as instructed and consult your veterinarian if your cat or dog experiences any adverse reactions after being given a flea and tick control product.


1. Topical Medications

Medications that you apply to your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades or at the base of the neck, are called “spot-ons.” These popular products typically contain ingredients that repel and kill fleas and ticks as well as mosquitoes. Spot-on chemicals spread over the animal’s entire body, depositing into the sweat glands of the skin, where the active ingredient can be released over several weeks’ time. They are very convenient to use and will continue to work even if your cat or dog is bathed or goes swimming.

2. Oral Medications

If you don’t like the idea of using a topical medication on your cat or dog, there are a few different monthly oral medications available. Some products not only kill fleas and ticks, they also prevent heartworm disease in dogs  and cats and even some internal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Side effects of oral flea and tick preventive medications are generally few, but can include vomiting and diarrhea. Some animals may develop a skin reaction that causes redness, itching, and/or hives to develop. Depression and lack of appetite have also been reported.

3. Sprays

A relatively inexpensive method for controlling fleas and ticks on your cat or dog is to use a spray. Depending on the product you select, flea sprays can last for quite some time (up to several months), as long as the pet stays dry (i.e., the product is not washed off). Application of sprays is relatively easy, but be sure to avoid getting the product close to your pet’s eyes or mouth. Read all instructions carefully before applying anything to your pet.

4. Powders

Powders are dusted over the entire body (again avoiding the eyes and mouth) and rubbed into the fur and even between the toes. Side effects of powders may include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, depression, lack of appetite, and shaking.

5. Shampoos

Flea and tick shampoos will help wash away adult fleas and their eggs for a short period of time, but will not usually stop an infestation or keep the fleas from returning. The common ingredients in these products are usually pyrethrins, which kill adult fleas quickly on contact. When using a shampoo, allow it to stay in contact with the skin and coat for at least 10-15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Avoid getting this product in your pet’s eyes or mouth.  Products containing pyrethrins are TOXIC to cats and SHOULD NOT be used on cats or in a household with cats.  They can cause seizures, elevated temperature, coma and ultimately death.

6. Dips

A flea and tick dip is a concentrated liquid (usually containing a pyrethrin) that is diluted with water and applied to the animal with a sponge or poured over the body. The pet is not rinsed off after the dip is applied, and is allowed to air dry. These products should never be used on very young animals or on nursing or pregnant animals. Dips can be quite concentrated, so use caution when applying. Protect your own skin and eyes while you are applying the dip to your pet, and take care not to allow the product to get in your pet’s eyes or mouth. (see notes on pyrethrins and cats above)

7. Collars

Flea collars use a concentrated chemical to repel fleas (and ticks) from an animal. The chemical will disperse all over the animal’s body and can last for several months. The common ingredient in flea and tick collars is usually pyrethrin (see notes on pyrethrins and cats above), but some will also contain insect growth regulators to reduce flea populations. Flea and tick collars are relatively inexpensive and can provide some protection to your cat or dog, but they can also smell quite strong and can be irritating to your pet.  At Rita Ranch Pet Hospital, we do not recommend the use of flea collars — the amount of chemical on the collar can be unsafe for humans, especially children.  We also find that they tend to protect the area they are touching, but have difficulty protecting the pet’s entire body from external parasites. 

If you are unsure of how to treat your pet or what flea & tick prevention medication is best for your pet, give Rita Ranch Pet Hospital a call at 520-624-6100 and speak with one of our veterinary technicians.



Source: petwellnessnetwork.com