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Why do Pets Spray?

Spraying or territorial marking is a fairly common and sometimes destructive practice for our canine and feline friends. The common misconception is that the only reason a dog or cat marks his territory is for reproductive reasons, but this is not always the case. Understanding why your pet is marking his territory may help you better understand your pet, his behavior and how to handle this troublesome issue.

Reasons Pets Mark

Some male dogs will mark when they encounter non-resident dogs in their environment. This may include your home, yard, walking route, a friend’s home, park or other commonly visited location. Dogs may also mark when they encounter a specific social trigger. These triggers can include:  an in-heat female dog, another male dog, an environment where other dogs have previously marked, or you’re your pet has become overstimulated in a social situation.

Most cat lovers are aware that un-neutered male cats will spray urine on walls, furniture, and elsewhere to mark their territory. But many pet parents are surprised when males that are “fixed” will also spray, or when female cats—spayed and un-spayed—exhibit this same noxious behavior. Unfortunately, cats can also spray because of underlying medical conditions, litter box issues, or anxiety.

How to Stop Pets from Spraying

Dogs and cats, both male and female, will most commonly mark if they are reproductively intact to signal to potential mates. For this reason, many pet owners come to the conclusion that spaying and neutering their pet will eliminate this behavior. Unfortunately, even altered pets still will find reasons to mark or spray.  While spaying and neutering may reduce this tendency, it is not a 100% surefire fix. Spaying and neutering dogs and cats does help reduce the urge to mark or spray for reproductive reasons; however, if your pet continues to mark or spray, further investigation is required.

Pets may be spraying for a single reason or for several at once. If your dog seems to be marking out of habit, you will simply need to retrain this behavior. This will entail watching him constantly. When he lifts his leg to mark, interrupt him verbally then take him outside and encourage him to mark his territory outside rather than inside. It is also essential to clean any areas that he has already marked with a disinfecting and deodorizing cleaner, this will discourage the habit of refreshing their old marks.

The main reason cats mark is due to anxiety. This anxiety can come from another pet that is “bullying” the cat that is spraying, outdoor cats encroaching on your cat’s territory by jumping up on windowsills, changes in routine, or anxiety caused by the condition of your cat’s litter box.

Take the First Step

Spraying and marking may be an obnoxious behavior, but it does not have to be an ongoing problem. The best solution is to stop the behavior before it starts, which means bringing your pet in for his sterilization as early as possible. At TCAP, our veterinary team can spay/ neuter a pet so long as he is over 2lbs and over 10 weeks of age. Call (940) 566-5551 to schedule your pet’s appointment today.

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