Ask the Vet: Tips for Housebreaking a Dog, More

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Published August 8, 2012 4:10 am
Ask the Vet: Tips for Housebreaking a Dog, More

Dr. Lauren - Ask the Vet Dr. Lauren, a local veterinarian, answers your questions about pet health.

I have a 5-month-old Dachshund. I’m having an issue with house breaking him. We take him out to go to the bathroom but once he comes back into the house he goes to the bathroom again. Is there anything special I could do to help house break him? Ryan

Ryan, many other puppy owners express the same concerns! A few questions for you: Are you leaving your puppy outside unattended? How long is he outside before coming in and going to the bathroom again?

Your puppy would probably learn faster if not left outside without you. If you’re not always there when he relieves himself outside, so you’re not able to praise him at those times. He needs that feedback.

Don’t keep him out long, but if he really wants playtime, maybe you can let him have some (perhaps 15 minutes) after he has relieved himself and been praised. If, on the other hand, he would rather be back inside, make that the reward right after you’ve praised him for relieving outdoors.

Can you see him from the back door? That’s where I stand or sit to supervise my dogs once they are housebroken, without having to go out there every time. By keeping him inside between potty trips outside, you’ll also get a better feel for his schedule, and he’ll do better on developing bladder and bowel control.

In about a month, you can probably start mostly supervising from the back door, because his bladder and bowel control will be more developed. Meanwhile, you want to help him form the right habits. Every mistake confuses him more. If he makes a mistake, rush him outside immediately. Remember, no negative punishment, only positive rewards!

Hi Dr. Lauren. I have a question about my cat, Muffin. He’s an unaltered male and has a really good appetite. His stomach seems rather large and I know that worms can cause a distended stomach. The thing is that he shows no signs of worms, either on him or in the litter box. Could he just have a big stomach or could some other illness cause this?Rachel Z.

Thanks for your question, Rachel. Muffin’s distended abdomen could be caused by many conditions. As you mentioned, intestinal parasites like roundworms can lead to abdominal distension or a “pot-bellied” appearance, especially in kittens. Parasites are a common cause of diarrhea in young animals and can cause vomiting as well. Sometimes the worms are vomited up, which can be alarming because they can be quite large with females reaching lengths of up to seven inches. The worms consume the host’s food and can lead to unthriftiness.

Fecal testing for worm eggs is a must for kittens and a good idea for adult cats having their annual checkup. Obviously, if there are worms, they must be laying eggs in order to be detected, but by and large fecal testing is a reliable method of detection.

Depending on Muffin’s age and health status, there may be other causes leading to his abdominal distension. Your veterinarian can perform a thorough physical examination, analyze a fecal sample for parasites, and take an abdominal x-ray to look for gas, a tumor, or fat that could make Muffin’s belly look distended.


Have a question for Dr. Lauren? E-mail her at [email protected].

Dr. Lauren, a native of Knox, PA, practices in a busy animal hospital in Butler, PA. She received her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2005 and her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. Dr. Lauren treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

DISCLAIMER: Neither Explore Your Town, Inc. nor Dr. Lauren Smith will be held responsible for the outcome of any advice given on this website, as a true diagnosis and/or treatment cannot be given without a thorough physical exam and lab test results. Your submissions to this column hold you responsible for the fate of your pets and relieve the above aforementioned parties of all and any liabilities.

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