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What to do When Your Potty-Trained Pet Goes on the Carpet

Cane Bay Summerville - Sad DogRecently, my friend’s family traveled to Europe for several weeks. While they were away, I helped take care of their five cats. At first, everything was going great. However, about halfway through the first week, I noticed several surprises awaiting me on their brand new couch. Fortunately, before the family left, they put a tarp over the couch so the messes were easy to clean up, and they did not stain the new fabric.

With five cats, it was near impossible to determine the culprit. Regardless, I was still concerned and alarmed by the cats’ behavior and wondered why cats trained to use the litter box would suddenly start using the couch as their new bathroom.

Have you had a similar experience? Not surprisingly, this can be a problem for both cats and dogs.

Possible Causes

  • For Dogs: There can be a whole slew of reasons your otherwise potty-trained dog has started having accidents in the house. The first things to check out should be any potential medical reasons. Urinary tract infections, old age, diabetes and even joint discomfort can all lead to house mistakes.

Stress can also add to your pet’s unusual behavior. Is your dog afraid of loud noises? If there are fireworks, loud construction or thunderstorms outside, your dog may resort to peeing in the house.

Emotions can play an important role as well. If your dog gets overly excited or anxious, mistakes can happen. Does your dog have separation anxiety? If you are away at work for the day, your anxious pooch may use the house as his bathroom.

  • For Cats: As with dogs, some cats may have stopped using the litter box because of a medical reason, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney failure. If left unchecked, some infections or illnesses may become severe.

Other environmental changes may play a role, too. Any added stress, such as moving to a different house or getting married, may induce this undesired behavior.

Do you have multiple cats? If so, any bullying or harassment that takes place in or around the litter box may cause the rejected pet to stop using the litter box and start urinating in the house.

Even simple things, like not having enough litter in the litter box, may cause this unwanted behavior. For a more complete lost of possible causes, check out Pam’s website.

Potential Solutions

  • For Dogs: First and foremost, it is recommended that you take your dog to the veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. If there is a problem, your veterinarian will work on treating the problem, which may be enough to stop your dog form urinating in the house.

If your dog has a clean bill of health, next look for behavioral signs that may indicate a problem that needs addressing. For example, if the problem is mainly caused by anxiety, there are some anti-anxiety medications that may be used alone or in conjunction with behavioral training therapy. In the case of loud noises during fireworks or thunderstorm season, certain other amenities have been designed to help calm your dog, including ThunderShirts.

If part of the problem is due to anxiety induced by a parent at work all day, it may be beneficial to hire a pet sitter to come over at least once a day and spend some time with your pooch and let him out.

  • For Cats: Again, it is extremely important that all medical possibilities are ruled out first. It could be dangerous to allow a urinary tract infection to continue with no treatment.

If no medical ailments are found, behavioral observation is the next suggested step. If the problem is related to cat conflict in or near the litter box, you may want to consider getting more litter boxes. PetMD suggests having enough litter boxes for each cat in the house.

If you cannot seem to figure out the issue, you can try several different things such as adding more litter to the litter box, cleaning it regularly, using a different, unscented type of litter or taking out the liner at the bottom of the litter box. For a more complete list of ideas, visit Pam’s website.

For more tips on training your cat to use the litter box, check out our article, “How to Train Your Cat to Use The Litter Box.”

Of course, it is recommended that you should not punish your pet for making a mistake in the house. This oftentimes sends a confusing signal to your pet, and it may result in more accidents and a fearful pet. The most effective way to deal with an already potty-trained pet who is having house mistakes is to identify the problem and get treatment or training accordingly.

If you believe pet sitting might be one way to help your pet avoid house mistakes while you are away or at work, feel free to give us a call at 843-879-0822.

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