Cleaning a Litter Box: All You Need to Know

The attention and care you spend on choosing, placing and caring for a litter box is critical to optimal cat health and wellbeing. Inappropriate elimination, meaning a cat that urinates outside of the litter box in the house, can be devastating to the cat and owner.

For this reason, we will focus this article on caring for and cleaning the litter box.  Many first-time cat owners have many questions about cat care. Learn more by reading What You Should Know As a First Time Cat Owner and How to Be Successful at Taking Care of a Cat For the First Time.

What is the Best Type of Litter Box?

The best litter box is easy for your cat to go in and out, has high sides and ideally clear (transparent). A large clear storage container can work well as a litter box.

How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have?

The general rule of thumb is that you should always keep one more litter box than you have cats. So if you have one cat, you need two litter boxes. If you have two cats, then you need three boxes. If you have a two-story home, keep one litter box on each floor. Some experts suggest that you should have “one litter box per cat plus one, as well as one per floor, whatever is more”. So if you have a three-story house and one cat, you should have three boxes.

If you have ever had the unfortunate situation of a cat that isn’t using the litter box, you know that everything you can do to ensure the boxes are available is critical to your happiness.

How Big Should the Litter Box Be?

The litter box should be big enough for your cat to turn around in it. Don’t get a small litter box to save room. You want the litter box to be appealing to your cat.

Your cat will refuse to use it and you will have a bigger problem. Don’t buy a huge box and expect your kitten to climb it every time she has to use the bathroom.

Buy a small litter box for a kitten and then get a larger one as she grows.

Should you have a Hooded or Unhooded (Covered) Litter Box?

Some litter boxes are open and some have covers. Those with covers look better and they also help prevent the strong smell.

However, it isn’t necessarily what a cat likes. Some cats use hooded boxes without a problem but others refuse. In general, cats feel vulnerable when they eliminate. They want to feel safe. The covered box prevents them from seeing their surroundings and can make them feel afraid. Even though your home may pose no threat to your cat, instincts still exist. They like to see who’s coming and going in case they need to escape.

What is the Best Type of Litter?

In nature, cats generally dig and scratch in the dirt, soil, or sand when they eliminate, often burying their wastes. The litter and litter box is a replacement for that opportunity.

There are many brands and types of litter on the market. Some are sandy, pelleted, clay, biodegradable, and even made of wheat, wood or corn. Some litters are scented and others are unscented. Some clump together easily and make them easily scooped. Some are flushable and others are not.

Choosing a cat litter can be complicated.

In general, the best litter is an unscented scoopable litter. The scented litters generally allow us to hide the odors and can repulse cats. There are some specialty litters made for cats that have had litter box problems and made to attract them to the box.

Learn more about the types of litter in this article: The Fine Art of Litter Box Care.

How Often Should You Change Litter Brands?

Some cat owners will buy a new litter when they have a coupon or it is on sale. This is NOT a good idea. Once you find a litter that your cat uses, stick with it.

Where is the Best Place to Put the Litter Box?

Cats are very particular when it comes to doing their business. By researching why cats don’t use the litter box can often tell us what they do like.

Here are some general litter box placement rules:

  • Once you have a good spot for your cat’s litter box, don’t move it.
  • Don’t place the litter box in a noisy or high traffic area.
  • Don’t place the litter box near the washer, dryer or furnace. Some cats can be frightened by these random sounds creating an aversion to using the box.
  • Don’t put your cat’s litter box next to her food bowl or bed. Cats do not like to eliminate where they eat.
  • A good place for a litter box is a quiet low-traffic area, such as in a spare bathroom or office. A corner location is better than out in the open because a cat needs to feel secure. If your cat has only two directions to watch instead of four she’ll be more relaxed.
  • Keep the area around the litter box clean and picked up.
  • When placing more than one box, put the boxes in separate locations. Some cats that are territorial or dominant may prevent access to other cats.

What is the Best Practice for Cleaning the Litter Box?

The best way to care for the litter boxes is to do the following:

  • Scoop all litter boxes daily.
  • Clean the litter box with soap and water and rinse well weekly or every other week.
  • Replace all of the litter and clean the box with soap and water monthly.
  • Do not use liners. When cats dig, they are often offended by the plastic liner at the bottom.
  • Do not use scented litters unless they are made to attract cats and recommended by your veterinarian.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Cleaning A Litter Box:

The Benefits of Neutering a Cat and Why You Should

Many cat owners have questions about the neuter surgery, what is involved, when is the best time to do it, side effects of the surgery, what it costs, as well as many more questions. In this article, we will address some common questions about cat neuter surgery including benefits of neutering a cat.

What is a cat neuter surgery?

The word “neuter” is from the Latin word neuter that means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter refers to both male and female animals.  Other terms commonly used to describe neuter surgery is “castration” which refers to the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ in males or the term “spay” or “spaying” for females.  Other terms used to refer to neutering is “de-sexing” and “fixing”.

What are the benefits of getting your cat neutered?

Common benefits of neuter surgery include:

  •  Help control the animal population. According to Wikipedia, “six to eight million animals are brought to shelters each year with an estimated three to four million are subsequently euthanizing, including 2.7 million considered healthy and adoptable”. Neutering can help avoid pet overpopulation. Accidental and unwanted litters commonly happen to even the most careful cat owners.
  •  Control roaming. Intact cats commonly roam and run away which can lead to fights, exposure to toxins, ingestion and exposure to garbage, being hit by a car, gunshot wounds, and much more. There is also a risk of your cat biting a person which can cause liability, expenses, and legal issues.
  •  Eliminate pregnancy risks. There are several health problems and risks that can be associated with pregnancy that can be life-threatening and expensive to treat.
  •  Eliminate medical problems and expenses associated with having kittens and the medical issues that commonly develop.
  •  Decrease behavioral problems. There is an increased risk of behavioral issues including territorial spraying and marking behavior, and/or aggression with intact cats.
  •  Decrease the risk of cancer. Neutering can remove or reduce the risk of testicular, uterine, mammary (breast), and ovarian cancer.
  •  Eliminates the risk of a life-threatening uterine infection (pyometra).

What are the risks associated with neuter surgery?

The major risks are those of general anesthesia, post-operative infection, bleeding, and wound breakdown over the incision. Overall, the complication rate is very low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.

How long is a cat in the hospital after neuter surgery?

Most cats come to the veterinary hospital in the morning, have surgery and are released the same day or occasionally the day following surgery.

How do you take care of a cat after neuter surgery?

After being neutered, your cat may feel tired or groggy that night and for the first 24 to 48 hours. Most cats are back to a normal attitude and appetite in 1 to 2 days.

Post-neuter surgery care for cats includes:

  • Give any prescribed pain medication or antibiotics.
  • Keep your cat quiet for approximately two weeks after he returns home from the hospital to allow him to heal. Ideally, he should be kept inside with no excessive running, jumping, or playing.
  • Monitor the skin sutures, if present. Look for abnormal signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. Call your veterinarian if you see any abnormal signs that can suggest infection.
  • See your vet for recommended suture removal. Sometimes sutures are absorbable.
  • Return to your vet for rechecks. Many veterinarians may want to check the incision one-week post-surgery to ensure it is healing normally.
  • Do not allow your cat to lick or chew at the incision. If your cat licks the incision line, prevent them from licking by placing an e-collar on your cat or a t-shirt to prevent exposure to the incision line. Call your veterinarian if you see this happening with your cat.

When do you neuter cats?

The best time to neuter is when your cat is young and healthy as opposed to when your cat is older and has life-threatening uterine infections (Pyometra) or prostate problems.

Neutering is most commonly recommended around six months of age. However, neutering is done in some situations as early as 6 to 8 weeks but can be done at any age.

Learn more about The Pros and Cons of Spays and Neuters In Cats.

What does cat neuter surgery cost?

The cost for cat spays can range from $40 to $350 depending on the age and sex of your cat. It is less expensive to castrate a male cat than to spay a female cat. Pet insurance can help cover the cost of spaying depending on your policy. Learn more about Pet Insurance for Cats.

How to Be Successful at Taking Care of a Cat For the First Time

If you are new to the feline species, you may be curious about taking care of a cat for the first time. Care involves getting to know the cat, understanding a little about feline behavior, providing excellent litter box care, good nutrition, and required veterinary care while ensuring you have the necessary supplies to provide this care.

Understanding Your Cat

Cats are fascinating, mysterious and majestic creatures. Cats have many different personalities that can range from calm, soothing, lazy, energetic, ornery, funny, mysterious, shy, social to reclusive.

Although cats have a reputation for being independent, there are times and situations when they can (and do) interact with others of their own kind and humans in a social way. Learn more about Understanding Cat Communication.

Cats have amazing senses of smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Most all of their senses are much better than us humans. Learn more about Understanding Your Cat’s Senses.

When taking care of a cat for the first time, it is time well spent to learn more about how cats communicate and pay attention to their moods, intentions, and behavior. Cats live in the moment. They don’t plan what they will do in two hours or tomorrow. As they live in the moment, they communicate with their behavior how they feel right now. With time and understanding, you can tell when your cat is afraid, hungry, angry, playful, or when they want company vs. when they do not.

Another important thing to know about cat behavior is if you have an indoor-only cat, there are things they need to be content. Learn more with this article: What Indoor Cats Need to Be Happy.

15 Items for Your Cat Shopping List

When you are taking care of a cat for the first time, it is time to shop for food, toys, and other necessities you should have before bringing a cat home. Here are 15 items that you need when you have a cat:

  1. Carrier – A cat carrier, also known as a pet taxi, is used to transport your cat outside of the house. This is important to prevent your cat from running away. It should have good ventilation, be comfortable, durable, easy to clean, and airline approved if you plan to travel. Some carriers have both a front and side loading feature which can be handy. Learn more about Selecting the Best Cat Carrier.
  2. Food and water bowls – Washable bowls made of stainless steel or ceramic are good choices for cats.  Cats generally prefer shallow bowls or plates with a thin rim for canned food meals. Learn more with Picking the Right Cat Food Bowl.
  3. Food – If possible feed the same food your cat has been eating prior to coming into your life. The more things you can keep the same can help the transition. If you cannot feed the same food, select a good quality dry and canned food formulated to meet the needs of your cat’s life stage. For example, kittens should be fed kitten food. Consult your vet about which type of food is best for your cat.  Learn more about the Palatability of Cat Foods.
  4. Treats – Some cats love treats. Find a good quality natural product such as Stella and Chewy’s freeze-dried beef treats.
  5. Bed – It is nice to have a cat bed but cats often find their own special retreat around the house. It may be on a chair or the back of a sofa. A blanket or towel on a chair or a soft blanket on a table by a window can also allow some visual stimulation from the outdoors and access to the sun. Ensure any bed you purchase is machine washable.  Learn more – Picking the Best Bed for Your Cat.
  6. Scratching post- It is important to have places in your home where your cat is welcome to scratch. This is especially important in cats with claws, however, just because a cat does not have their claws, does not mean they don’t have the instinct to “scratch”. Scratching is a natural instinct for cats to sharpen their claws, stretch, shed old nails, and leave their scent. Observe what your cat likes to scratch. Some cats prefer fabric and other materials, rope or cardboard. If you aren’t sure a good combination is a cardboard horizontal scratcher and a vertical carpeted post. Multi-cat households should have several scratching spots. Learn more about Selecting a Scratching Post for Your Cat.
  7. ToysYour new cat will need to be stimulated and active to be healthy.  There are many types of toys to choose from. If you are taking care of a cat for the first time, you can choose a small rolling ball, a catnip-filled toy, a furry small mouse, and a feathery flyer (a wand-type toy you wave through the air that simulates prey motions such as feathers that mimic a bird in flight). As you get to know your cat, you can fine-tune the types of toys they like best. This is a really good resource about Selecting the Right Toys for Your Cat’s Play Preference.  You won’t be disappointed with the tips in this article.
  8. Litter box – It is critical to have a good clean litter box as you start taking care of a cat for the first time. There are several types of litter boxes on the market. This is a very important decision because when cats don’t use the box it creates an awful experience.  Most cats will naturally start using the box but here is an article that may be helpful. Go to: Litter Box Training Your Cat. The best litter box is a large clear unhooded box (such as a plastic storage container) that is in a location that is consistently quiet. Avoid locations with random noises that can scare cats such as by the water, dryer or furnace.  Learn more about choosing and caring for the litter box with this article Cleaning a Litter Box: All You Need to Know
  9. Litter – If you were to ask feline veterinarians their favorite litter, many would recommend a scoopable clay-based unscented litter that is low in dust. Many cats are repulsed by the perfumed scents. The scents are made for humans – not for cats. KEY POINT: as you start taking care of a cat for the first time, once you find a litter your cat likes, stick with it. Don’t buy whatever is on sale this week. Cats are very particular and litter changes can lead to unwelcome alterations in bathroom habits. Learn more about Best Type of Cat Litter.
  10. Litter scoop – Choose a basic scoop that works for you. There are many colors and styles. Something plastic that can be easily washed works well.
  11. Litter can – I like a sealed small trash can that I can scoop the litter box wastes into and hide the odors. A small sealable can made for bathrooms works well. There are also commercial versions made for cats as well such as the Litter Champ®.
  12. Brush or comb– A basic flea comb and a Furminator® type comb are a good combination as you start taking care of a cat for the first time. Learn more about Combs and Brushes for Your Cat.
  13. Collar – The ideal fit for a cat collar should allow for one to two fingers to fit between your cat’s neck and the collar, depending on the size of your cat.  A quick-release mechanism is important in case your cat gets caught on something. Some cat collars have bells. If you choose one, make sure the bell is secured to the collar and cannot come off or be accidentally eaten. The ringing bell can be pleasant to some cat owners but can also get on your nerves if your cat plays during the night.
  14. Identification (ID) tag – When placed on the collar, the ID tag it should provide your phone number as the most critical bit of information. Make it a forever number such as your cell.  Learn more about Methods of Identification in Cats.
  15. Cat tree – Cats love to climb and high places help them feel secure. From a high spot, cats can watch their environment and identify both prey and predator. Cat trees and perches come in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors. Most commercially made cat trees are made of carpet with some wood holding the surfaces.  Much of this selection will depend on the available room in your home. The tree should be sturdy and not easily knocked over. Ideally, it should be in the corner of the room or overlooking a window. Selecting the Right Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat.

Cat Proofing Your Home

As a first-time cat owner, it is important that you understand common cat dangers and “cat-proof” your home. You may be able to remove some dangers from your home or if not, at least understand the danger exists so you can take proper precautions.

All About Your Cat’s First Vet Visit

Keeping your new kitty healthy and happy is critical. As you prepare for your cats first vet visit, it is important to know what you should ask and what to expect. This article will walk you through how to prepare for your cats first vet visit and what you can expect from the moment you arrive at the veterinary clinic.

What You Should Do Before Your Cats First Vet Visit

As you bring your new cat to the doctor, there are things you can do to prepare for the visit. Here is a list:

  • Understand the purpose of the appointment. Once you choose your veterinarian and make your appointment, consider the goals of your appointment. Do you want a check-up? Do you want to ensure your new cat has all required shots, deworming and testing? Are you addressing a particular problem that your cat is having? Is it a combination of these?
  • Ask the veterinary team if there is anything you should bring with you to the appointment such as a fecal sample.
  • Know your cat’s history. This may be difficult to know much, for example, if you found a stray, but if possible, be prepared to answer the following questions:
  • Has your cat ever been sick? If so, what and how was your kitten treated?
  • Has your cat had vaccines? If so what kind and when?
  • How old is your cat?
  • What is your cat eating?
  • Is your cat having any abnormal symptoms such as not eating, vomiting, diarrhea, runny eyes, sneezing, limping, lethargy, scratching, hair loss, ear discharge, trouble urinating or anything else?
  • Is your cat indoors, outdoors or both?
  • Does your cat have a microchip?
  • Is your cat spayed or neutered already or do you plan to do so? Do you plan to declaw your cat?
  • If your cat has been to another vet – what is their contact information? It is common for them to fax records back and forth.
  • Take all paperwork (medical records, adoption papers, etc.) with you and if possible, get a fecal sample to take with you in case they need it for testing.

What to Expect At Your Cats First Vet Visit

Before bringing your cat home, it is ideal to ensure he has had a thorough veterinary examination, is current on vaccines and deworming treatments, and tested for FIV (feline aids) and FeLV (feline leukemia)

At your cats first vet visit, you can expect the following:

  • Create a Medical Record. The front desk will ask you for information. It may be pretty quick if the veterinary hospital is one you have gone to before. The information they will need includes your name, address, phone numbers and the age, sex, and name of your cat. They will also ask about the reason for your vet visit.  They will use this information to create a new medical record for your cat. Some veterinary clinics have questionnaires for you to fill out to help them identify behavioral or medical problems.
  • Examination. The veterinary clinic team will move you and your cat to an examination room. The technician or doctor will help get your cat out of the carrier and weigh your cat. Your veterinarian will take a temperature, examine the coat, ears, teeth, gums, eyes, heart, lungs, legs and joints, abdomen and genitals. They are looking for abnormalities such as fleas, ticks, enlarged organs, abnormal developments, heart murmurs and much more.
  • History. The veterinarian will likely ask you questions and review your cat’s history such as how long you have had him, where you got him, his name, sex, breed, prior vaccines, what you are feeding, and prior medical problems. They will also review how your cat is doing currently such as are they eating and drinking well, any vomiting or diarrhea? Coughing? Sneezing? Etc.  They may also ask questions about litter box training, toys, and how he is interacting with other pets in the home.
  • Testing. Your cats’ first vet visit may also include fecal testing for common worms that can live in the gastrointestinal tract as well as blood testing for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. It is a good idea to test every kitten before he joins your family.  It may be recommended to retest kittens three months later.
  • Vaccination. Depending on the age of your kitten, the first vet fist may also include a vaccination, fecal testing, deworming, and a discussion on the vaccine schedule and flea/tick and other parasite control. Kittens are vaccinated starting at 6 to 8 weeks and every 3 to 4 weeks until they are about 20 weeks old. Vaccinations are against several different organisms, including rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. For kittens at risk such as outdoor kittens or multi-cat households, feline leukemia vaccine may be given.
  • Advice. The veterinarian may also discuss behavior and feeding tips, discuss the pros and cons of letting your kitten spend time outdoors, spaying or neutering, as well as discuss possible toxins and dangers.
  • Parasite Discussion. Parasite prevention will likely be recommended. The product will be determined based on your cat’s lifestyle, risk factors, and any current infections. Flea, tick and heartworm prevention are commonly recommended.
  • Plan for Your Next Visit. At the end of your cat’s first vet visit, the veterinary team should discuss when your cat needs to come back. This may be in 3 to 4 weeks for kittens or new cats and not for a year for older cats. Senior cats may need to return every 6 months.
  • Questions. Lastly, the veterinary team should give you an opportunity to ask questions. If you aren’t sure about something…ask. The only dumb question is the one unasked. The veterinary team is there to help you provide the best possible care for your cat and they want to help.

We hope this article gives you information on what to expect from your cats first vet visit.

Additional Articles that May be of Interest About Your Cat’s First Vet Visit:

What You Should Know As a First Time Cat Owner

One of the most interesting times in my life was when I was a first-time cat owner. It was fascinating to observe the mysterious feline behaviors and watch the growth, interests, athletic abilities, eating patterns, play patterns, and sleeping patterns of cats, as well as the affectionate nature of cats.

As a first-time cat owner, there are several important things you need to know. There are things you need to do to prepare your home, and things to buy to prepare for your new kitty.  Below we will help you get ready for your new cat as a first-time cat owner.

When preparing for your new cat, it is important to make sure your cat is healthy, your home is safe, and you have what you need to provide good nutrition and bathroom habits.

Household Decisions

As you prepare for your new cat, there are some important decisions to make. If you have others in your home, it is important to make these decisions as a family or household so everyone is on the same page with expectations.

  • Is your new cat going to go be inside only, indoors and outdoors or outside only?
  • What are you going to feed your cat? Canned or dry? Brand?
  • Are you going to feed treats or table scraps in addition to the cat food?
  • Where are you going to feed your cat in the house?
  • Who is going to feed the cat?
  • Who is going to shop for routine cat supplies such as food, litter, and treats?
  • Where are you going to place the litter box or boxes?
  • What kind of litter are you going to use?
  • Who will be responsible for scooping? What is the litter box plan?
  • Where will your cat sleep? Are they allowed to sleep on the bed?
  • Where is your cat not permitted? Certain rooms? Countertops?
  • Which veterinarian do you choose?
  • Do you have a plan for environmental enrichment? Do you have a special window perch your cat can look outside? Scratching post?
  • If your cat is not neutered, when and where will this happen?
  • Will you declaw your cat?

When you finish answering these questions, make a list of what you need for your new cat and make a plan to go shopping.

Questions to Ask When You Pick Up Your Cat

When you pick up your cat for the first time, it is important to get a good history. First-time cat owners often regret not getting more information about their new cat when they had the chance. Depending on where you get your cat, this may be your only opportunity. Many shelters and humane societies don’t keep records for long making it impossible to go back and get a history on a stray that came in months or years ago. The amount and quality of information available will vary greatly depending on the individual circumstance.

  • When possible, ask the following questions about your new cat:
  • Where did they find the cat or where did the cat come from?
  • Has the cat had any prior medical problems?  If so, what were the problems and how were they treated?
  • How old is the cat?
  • Has the cat been outdoors or indoors only?
  • Has the cat had fleas?
  • Has the cat had any fecal tests or blood tests such as feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus testing (commonly abbreviated as FeLV/FIV testing)?
  • What has the cat been eating up to the day you get your cat? For how long?  Can you get a food sample for your cat that will allow you to feed the same thing for a few days to keep that consistent? After that, you can wean to your new food gradually.
  • Has the cat had any dewormers?
  • Is the cat spayed or neutered?
  • Was the cat scanned for a microchip or was a microchip placed? Ensure you have the number if he has one.
  • Has the cat had vaccinations? If so what kind? When? And importantly, when are they due for more?
  • Does the cat get along with other cats or dogs?

How to Prepare for a New Cat

Has the cat had any prior medical problems?  If so, what were the problems and how were they treated?

The best way to prepare for a new cat is to cat-proof your home to ensure it is safe, be prepared with the proper cat products such as litter box, litter, food and water dishes, scratching posts, bed, food, comb, brush, treats, and flea/tick/heartworm prevention products.

Tips on How to Help a Stressed Dog When Moving

Moving is a very stressful event for you, but it is even more stressful for your dog. Just imagine, you understand what is going on and it is still stressful for you – imagine how stressful this is for your dog who has no idea what is going on. Your dog cannot understand the changes in his surroundings and he has no way to deal with that stress. As you prepare to move there is chaos in the home as everything is packed away in boxes. In the new home, your dog will be presented with new surroundings. He won’t understand that this is his new home until you help him to settle in and get acquainted with his new environment.

Many dog owners who are facing a move want to know how to help a stressed dog. There are certain things that you can do that will make the move easier on your dog. This article will tell you how to recognize stress and how to help a stressed dog.

When you move, your dog’s routine gets changed. Your dog suddenly finds himself moved to a new location where things don’t look, sound or smell the same. It can all be very confusing and stressful for your dog.

People often notice behavior changes or problems with their dog when moving to a new home. Your dog may start to exhibit destructive or attention-seeking behaviors such as barking, chewing, digging or even going to the bathroom in your house. There can also be other signs of stress to watch out for including panting, whining, clinginess, pacing, vomiting or diarrhea.

Do you want to know how to help a stressed dog? Here are some helpful tips to follow before, during and after the move.

  • Stick to your dog’s routines. Feed and walk your dog at the same time each day.
  • Get your dog plenty of exercise to help tire him out.
  • Spend some quality time with your dog. Yes, you’re very busy during this time, but sharing some quality time with your dog can really help ease his stress.
  • Provide some mental stimulation with puzzle toys or a stuffed Kong toy.
  • Pack up your dog’s belongings last and unpack them first. Having some familiar things at the new house will help it feel more like home to your dog.
  • Don’t wash your dog’s blankets or bedding before moving. The familiar scent will help him feel more comfortable.
  • If at all possible, board your dog during the actual move.
  • Consider using calming aids like calming DAP pheromones, anxiety shirts, medications or supplements.
  • Manage your own stress. Dogs react to your stress so the calmer you are the better.
  • In the new house, go back to puppy rules. If you are leaving your dog unattended, put him in a kennel. If your dog is soiling indoors restrict his access to the house.

Signs and Symptoms of a Stressed Dog

Before you can help a stressed dog, you must first understand the signs and symptoms of stress in your dog. Here are some of the symptoms you may see:

  • Diarrhea, constipation or digestive issues – Gastrointestinal issues can be brought on by anxiety.
  • Vomiting – Vomiting can also be caused by stress.
  • A decrease in appetite – If your dog suddenly loses interest in food or stops eating entirely, it may be stress-related.
  • Isolation – A dog that is constantly isolating himself may be suffering from anxiety.
  • Increased sleeping – If your dog is sleeping more than usual or if he seems overly lethargic, it could be stress-related.
  • Aggression toward people or other animals – Aggressive actions can be a sign of stress in dogs.
  • Whining or barking
  • Pacing or shaking
  • Loss of bowel function or soiling in the home
  • Digging
  • Chewing
  • Shedding

How to Ease a Dog’s Stress

Stress can sometimes be overwhelming and even debilitating. Here are a few tips on how to help a stressed dog.

  • Play and exercise regularly – Physical activity is a great stress reducer.
  • Create a safe zone – Set apart an area in your home where your dog can escape from the stress. Provide a favorite blanket or toy in the area and check on your dog to help reassure him.
  • Choose a high-quality dog food – Your dog’s diet is an important part of his overall health and wellbeing. If your dog’s diet is not properly balanced for his life stage and lifestyle it may lead to stress and anxiety.
  • Stick to routines for feeding and walking.
  • Give your dog plenty of attention and playtime.
  • Get regular daily exercise.
  • Provide plenty of mental stimulation for your dog.
  • Crate training can help your dog to feel more comfortable.
  • Dogs pick up on our emotions, so be patient and try to remain calm.

To learn more about moving with dogs, read our article Moving with Dogs: The Importance of Preparation.

Dog Separation Anxiety Training Tips for When You’re Moving

Moving to a new home is a big change and the new atmosphere can cause anxiety. It’s likely that your dog will feel separation anxiety in a new home because the environment isn’t the same anymore.

Here are some dog separation anxiety training tips to help when you move into a new home.

Keep your old routines. Being in a new environment is enough of a change for them, so try to keep everything else as it was in the old home. Experiencing routines will give your dog a sense of normalcy in a world that is no longer normal, and this will be a big help. If your dog likes to eat his breakfast and then go outside, keep to the same pattern in the new house. Try to keep everything as close to the way it was as possible. A similar routine will help make your dog feel safe and secure in his new environment.

Keep your dog’s things. Your dog will be comforted by his old toys, his blanket or bed, and his same water bowl. Keep the things he has ties to and things that have his scent. This is not a time to throw out his things and replace them with new ones. These things will help comfort him and make him feel less anxious.

Don’t leave your dog alone. When you move, try not to leave your dog alone for long periods of time. Try to wait as long as you can before leaving your dog alone in the house.

Keep familiar scents around the house. Dogs have a very strong sense of smell and it is comforting to have familiar scents around in the new house. Don’t wash your dog’s bedding right away. Spend some time sitting and playing with your dog on the floor (where he spends most of his time) and spread your scent around the house. If you wear a particular cologne, continue to wear it and spray it around the home. These familiar smells will help your dog feel more at home and less anxious.

Be patient while your dog gets used to his new surroundings. It may take some time for your dog to adjust and you need to be patient with your dog. He may forget about his potty training for a while, or he may forget the old house rules. Be patient and help him to readjust.

We hope that these dog separation anxiety training tips will help your dog’s transition to a new home.

What Separation Anxiety Looks Like in Dogs

Separation anxiety is a condition in which animals exhibit symptoms of anxiety or distress when they are left alone. There are many signs that manifest with separation anxiety, and if you know the signs you can try to deal with the problem.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of separation anxiety.

  • Destructive behavior
  • House soiling
  • Excessive barking and vocalization
  • Refusal to eat or drink when left alone
  • Panting and salivating
  • Trying to escape from confinement

Why Dogs Get Separation Anxiety

In nature, dogs are almost never separated from their pack. So being left alone is an unnatural situation that we need to help our dogs deal with.

Sometimes we can encourage our dog’s separation anxiety by making a big deal about leaving or coming home. Instead, stay calm and make the situation seem like no big deal.

A change in routine can cause separation anxiety, but it can also be caused by boredom or lack of exercise.

How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Here are some tips to help treat separation anxiety in dogs.

  • Take your dog for a walk before you leave. Exercise will help to release any pent up energy, and a tired dog has less energy to be anxious and destructive.
  • Treat your dog to food and water before you leave. Afterward, your dog will want to rest, and this is a good time to leave the house.
  • Don’t make a big deal out of saying goodbye when you leave the house and don’t make a big fuss when you get back home. Ignore your dog for the first few minutes, then calmly pet them. By doing this you are telling your dog that your time apart is no big deal, it’s just a normal part of the day.
  • Change up your routine. Your dog will look for familiar “cues” to signal your departure, so change things up a bit.
  • Be calm and assertive when you leave. This will help to let your dog know that everything is going to be okay.
  • Start out small and work up to a longer absence, conditioning your dog to be alone. Start by leaving your dog alone for just 10 minutes. Then work your way up to a half-hour, then an hour. Before you know it you’ll be leaving your dog alone for several hours.
  • Leave some worn clothing that smells like you. Your scent will help to comfort your dog while you are away.
  • Establish a word or an action that you use every time you leave that will tell your dog that you’ll be coming back.
  • Crate training can help with anxiety. When you are at home, get your dog used to being in the crate. Start with short periods of time and gradually increase the amount of time he spends in the crate. Feed your dog in the crate and give him his favorite chew toy there. In time the crate will become your dog’s safe haven. He will feel secure there.
  • Try using some calming products like Comfort Zone (DAP) that may help to ease your dog’s anxiety.
  • Ask your veterinarian about drug therapy to help ease your dog’s anxiety.

To learn more about moving with dogs, read our article Moving with Dogs: The Importance of Preparation.

Road Tripping with Dogs: How to Keep Them Safe and Healthy

Road tripping with dogs can be a lot of fun – if you plan ahead. You can’t just get into a car with a dog and drive cross country. You’ve got to plan ahead and take along all the things you’ll need to have with you. There are also safety concerns to consider when road tripping with dogs so that you and your pet will be safe along the way.

When road tripping with dogs, think about where you will stay when you stop driving for the day. Many hotels do not accept pets or they may have size, breed or weight restrictions. Some hotels also limit the number of pets you may have in your room. Plan ahead and find a hotel that accepts dogs. Check out websites like Bring Fido or Dog-Friendly. Both of these websites are great resources for finding pet-friendly hotels, shops, and restaurants. If your dog is alerted by noises at night, you may find that you’re asked to leave the hotel. So again, plan ahead. Have a good app on your smartphone for white noise. It will limit the amount of noise your dog hears.

Don’t feed your dog beforehand. Try to feed your dog a light meal 3 to 4 hours before you hit the road.

Make sure that your dog is microchipped before leaving town. Microchipping provides an extra layer of protection should your dog happen to escape, or in case his collar slips off.

Before taking a long road trip with your dog, practice with some short trips first. See how your dog does with the ride and whether he becomes anxious. If your dog becomes anxious when riding in the car, see your vet before going on your trip. Your vet may prescribe some medications to help ease your dog’s anxiety.

Safety Precautions When Road Tripping with Dogs

When road tripping with dogs, always put safety first. Never allow your dog to stick his head out an open window. You will risk him jumping out of the car or getting something in his eyes or ears. Never put the car window down unless your dog is restrained in a crate or by a doggy seat belt. Your dog should not be in the car unrestrained. It is a safety hazard. If you don’t have room for a crate or a kennel, get a doggy seat belt or restraint. Practice using the seat belt before leaving for your trip so that your dog can get used to the feeling of being restrained.

To learn more about car safety, read our article Buckle Up: The Best Safety Car Harness for Your Dog.

Before you go, download the American Red Cross Pet First Aid App to your smartphone. It is free in the app store and can be very helpful. Find out where emergency vet clinics are located along your route so you will be prepared for any emergencies that might arise.

While you’re on the road, stop every 3 hours or so to give your dog a bathroom break. Find a nice grassy area to walk your dog and never stop along the side of the road. A 10-minute leash walk is also a good idea every time you stop. Young potty training dogs and senior dogs may need to stop more often than other dogs, so keep this in mind.

Never leave your dog alone in a hot car, even for a short time. This is very important. Temperatures can climb quickly inside a closed car and your dog can suffer from heat-related problems. If you are traveling with another person in the car, only one of you at a time should run inside to pick up food or use the restroom while the other person stays in the car with the dog.

Necessities to Bring With You When Road Tripping with Dogs

When road tripping with dogs, don’t forget to bring along the essentials.

  • Water bowl
  • Food
  • Medications
  • Poop bags
  • Grooming supplies and a towel
  • Updated tags
  • A collar and leash
  • Medical records
  • Vaccination certificates, especially for rabies
  • A kennel
  • Your dog’s bed or blankets
  • Your dog’s favorite toys
  • A doggy first aid kit
  • Bring a recent photo of your dog (it will be helpful if your dog goes missing)

Convert a hanging toiletry bag into an over-the-seat car organizer to keep all of your dog’s stuff at your fingertips. Use it to store your dog’s leash, his food, and some treats. It will make life a lot easier when you stop to take a rest along the way.

Are You Acclimating a Dog to a New Home? Here Are Some Tips

Moving can be stressful and difficult for the whole family – and that includes your dog. Dogs don’t like change. But when you move you are uprooting your dog’s whole world and changing his surroundings. The move itself can be difficult and it is made even more challenging with the loss of routines and increased stress in the home. Your dog will be confused and scared by the “chaos” around him.

Acclimating a dog to a new home can be easier when you take the right steps to make your dog feel safe and secure. Here are some ways to help you ease your dog’s transition to his new home.

Keep old routines – Everything in your dog’s life is changing, so it can help to stick to familiar routines as much as possible. Try to feed and walk your dog at the same time as you used to. If your dog is used to a routine of playing in the yard at a certain time of day, continue to do that. Try to keep as many things in his life the same if possible. If there are certain changes you want to make to your dog’s routine in your new home, do it slowly over time. Initiate those changes after your dog has settled in and acclimated to his new home.

Give your dog a familiar space – As soon as you get to your new home, create a dog-proofed room or space where your dog can feel more comfortable. This is where his crate should be as well as his bed and toys. It is very important to keep your dog in this area initially when you cannot keep an eye on him, and he should be confined to this area when you leave the house.

Show your dog where the bathroom is – When acclimating a dog to a new home, take your dog outside often to show him where the new “bathroom” will be. Take your dog outside more often as you are settling in and let him familiarize himself with his new outdoor surroundings.

Don’t buy new things for your dog – It’s tempting to get new things when you move, but this is not a good time to replace your dog’s bed, blanket, food bowl or toys. He will need to have familiar things around him that have his scent. This will help to comfort your dog while he is getting acclimated to his new home.

Spend some quality time with your dog – When you move, you can easily get caught up in the chaos and you may not think about taking your dog out for a walk or playing. While you’ve got a lot on your plate right now, you must remember that your dog needs you now more than ever, so stop and spend some quality time with your dog. Give your dog lots of love and attention.

Pick new feeding and sleeping areas and stick to them – Dogs are creatures of habit, so establish your dog’s new feeding and sleeping areas as soon as you get to your new home. It is important to create familiarity with resources such as food and water and bedding.

Give your dog treats when you leave – Even dogs who are comfortable being left alone may have problems being left alone in a new house. So when you go, leave a treat-filled Kong toy to keep your dog happily entertained.

Be patient – It will take some time for your dog to get used to his new home. Some dogs may feel comfortable in their new home is just a few days, but for other dogs, it could take weeks or months. So be patient with your dog and it will help him to adapt to his new surroundings.

Don’t expect perfection – Dogs usually adapt fairly quickly to new situations but there is a lot to take in when moving to a new home. So stay calm and reinforce positive behavior. Spend more time interacting with your dog and it will help to acclimate your dog to a new home.

Understanding Your Dog’s Fear of the Unknown – A New Home

If your dog could talk he would likely tell you that his home is his safe place. New places scare dogs and in some cases make them act out. When acclimating a dog to a new home he will undoubtedly experience symptoms of fear and anxiety in his new surroundings. Your dog may even begin to display inappropriate behavior such as inappropriate chewing, indoor accidents, barking or howling.

Moving with Dogs: The Importance of Preparation

Moving with dogs can be quite a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re moving across the country or across town, the sense of upheaval is the same. So no matter where you’re moving, the move can be quite challenging for your dog.

With all of the change and upheaval, the moving process is stressful for all of us, so it only stands to reason that it is going to be very stressful for your dog. Animals are very territorial – and they feel the same stress that humans do (if not more). They can read body language and pick up cues from you both verbally and non-verbally. Your dog won’t understand the sudden change in the normal routine. He won’t understand what’s happening, which will make him anxious.

In time, your dog will adapt to the change and all will be well. But the actual process of moving can be chaotic to your pet, which is why it’s so important to do everything you can to ease his anxiety and make the transition as easy as possible. Careful planning before, during and after the move is necessary to make the move less traumatic for your dog.

Before the move:

  • Get your dog used to the boxes and packing supplies by leaving them around the house a few days before you begin packing.
  • Make sure that your dog has a collar and an ID tag. Microchipping is also highly recommended.
  • If your dog is prone to car sickness, see your veterinarian before the move to prescribe any medications.
  • Prepare for anxiety. See your vet to prescribe anxiety medications like Alprazolam or Diazepam. You may also consider CBD treats, calming collars or a ThunderShirt.
  • Find a new veterinarian before you move. Get copies of your dog’s health records to give to your new vet.
  • To avoid complications, find someone to watch your dog on moving day. If this is not possible, make sure that your dog is secured in a crate in a quiet room of the house.
  • If you’ll be crating your dog for the move, begin using a crate early so your dog will get used to it. Put your dog’s favorite blanket or toy in the crate.
  • Never wash your dog’s blanket or toys before moving. His familiar scent will help him to adjust during and after the move.
  • If you will be traveling a long distance with your dog, find out about dog-friendly hotels and make reservations beforehand.
  • If you are moving internationally, work with your veterinarian ahead of time to find out what vaccinations or paperwork are necessary. In some countries, you’ll have to wait several months after the paperwork is filed before the pet is allowed into the country.

During the move:

  • Stick to your normal routine as much as possible. A recognizable routine is even more important during a time of chaos.
  • Be patient and speak to your dog in a calm voice. Use positive reinforcement techniques.
  • Give your dog as much exercise as possible to help keep him calm.
  • Keep your dog entertained with a good puzzle toy.
  • Set up a quiet spot for your dog to retreat from the chaos.
  • During the move, keep your dog secured in a crate or carrier.

After the move:

  • Before you allow your dog to check out his new home, inspect it first to make sure there are no health hazards like cleaning products or rat poison left behind.
  • Show your dog around his new home inside and out, using a happy voice and treats. (Check fences and make sure outdoor areas are secure before allowing your dog to go outside alone.)
  • Show your dog where his food bowls and sleeping area are, and lay his toys out for him.
  • When movers arrive with your furniture and belongings, crate your dog and keep him in a quiet room while things are moved in.
  • While you are unpacking, make sure that your dog has sufficient exercise and playtime to help keep him calm.
  • Establish your new routine as quickly as possible. Stick to your previous feeding and walking schedules for continuity.
  • Once you’ve settled in, spend more time together and reinforce positive behaviors.
  • Update all information on your dog’s tags and microchip as soon as possible.

Are You Acclimating a Dog to a New Home? Here Are Some Tips

Dogs don’t like change. But when you move you are uprooting your dog’s whole world and changing his surroundings. The move itself can be difficult and it is made even more challenging with the loss of routines and increased stress in the home. Your dog will be confused and scared by the “chaos” around him.