Cats News

Size Matters – When Referring to Litterboxes

I like a spacious bathroom – turns out, you cat may, too. Should your cat be urinating out of the box, on a rug (especially a bath mat), spraying walls or urinating in a corner, you may have litter box issues. Of course, if the cat is experiencing these behaviors, it is important to have him or her looked at by us at District Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible to rule out medical concerns / problems. If all is normal, your cat may need a bathroom remodel.

Many cats will enter the litter box, walk around, scratch the sides of the box, then leave to eliminate elsewhere. For some reason the cat is perturbed by the box. We always recommend that boxes be cleaned every day, with all the litter being changed at least weekly. Also, many cats do not like a cover on the box. In addition, you should have more than one litter box for your cat – and the boxes should not be next to each other or near machinery or in loud areas.

If following all of the above, it is possible your litter box is too small. Dr. Norma Guy, a veterinarian and behaviorist in Canada, recently published an abstract in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Applications and Research concerning a study she did with cats and litter box size. She had participants use two litter boxes – one was 34 inches long, the other was about standard litter box length. After two weeks she had the cat owners switch locations of the boxes with each other to help rule out placement preference. What did she find? Dr. Guy discovered that cats in her study, by a ratio of 5:3, preferred to use the large box.

Why? Well, many cats like to stretch out prior to defecation / urination. The longer box allows this behavior. It has also been shown that cats that play in their litter are more apt to use their litter box for elimination purposes. Cats are not like dogs – they prefer to defecate or urinate in a clean area, free from other urine or feces. They may want more space to pee and poop!

So – if your cat is healthy and not using the box well, try a larger litter box!

Dan Teich, DVM

Cats Dogs News

Keeping Pets Safe and Happy in the City

We live in a city – we live in a neighborhood with individual houses – we live on the edge of the park. It doesn’t matter where in DC you live, there are hazards all around. There are many tricks to keeping your dog or cat safe and happy in our growing metropolis. Some dangers are very obvious, others, not so much.

Some seemingly obvious dangers include heavy traffic (pedestrian, bikes, or automobiles). Keeping your dog on a short leash, so s/he does not get tangled or unexpectedly dart away from you is important in these crowded areas. Please avoid retractable leashes!

Another danger is to be aware of the temperature of your area. On sunny, hot days, be sure to walk your dog on the shaded side of the street, as pavement can burn the sensitive pads on their feet. The hair on their feet will not protect them from the scorching pavement and concrete. Also, even though it is tempting, refrain from taking your pet with you on hot days if you will be out of the house awhile. The air conditioning indoors will be safer and much more comfortable for them as opposed to the hot car or being leashed outside when you go indoors to run quick errands.

Less obvious dangers include make sure your cat (or dog) is never left unattended on unenclosed balconies, fire escapes, or terraces. Be sure all window screens are secure so they do not push through while enjoying the scenery. (Dr. Teich has seen a number of animals that have jumped or fallen out of windows!) Bird houses and feeders on window ledges will encourage your pets to spend more time looking outside and they may test their boundaries by leaning on the screen to get a better view. If there is an accident, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

In multi-level apartment buildings, elevators are a concern because leashes can get caught in closing doors, therefor choking the pet when the elevator moves. This is more common than you think. Always hold your dog on a short leash and take extra care when elevator doors are opening or closing.

Littering is not only ruining our scenic view of the city, but can pose a very real threat to your dog. Many dogs, especially Labs and Pit Bulls, love to eat everything they can find! Most litter is probably harmless, but there are many things, like raisins, cigarette butts, and gum that can be toxic to your pet. Please be aware of anything your dog may pick up along their walk. Even seemingly innocent debris, like pigeon droppings and puddles (or standing water), can present a danger to pets because the feces and excrements that wildlife leave behind may transmit disease between the species. Always take care to clean your pet’s feet and do not allow them to eat off or drink off the ground.

Having a pet is a joy, and we want to make sure your pets are happy and healthy. Please contact us here at District Veterinary Hospital to talk about your pet’s health care and how we can help you!

-Beth Grimes, Hospital Administrator

Cats Dogs News

Opening Day is October 6th!

Why is Brian so happy? It’s because we are opening on the 6th of October. Our first day will have treats for both humans and dogs and cats. There will be an opening party a bit later in the month. The hospital gives high-quality care to all pets in the District and adjacent communities in Maryland. The building is designed to provide a less stressful environment than all other practices through the use of open space, sound-absorbing materials and an overall pleasant feel. District Vet offers both routine and surgical care, digital x-ray, in-house laboratory, full veterinary pharmacy, a self and full-service dog wash for large and small dogs, in-house behavioral training, and more.

Come say hello on the 6th!

Cats Dogs News

Summertime Safety!

Summer is finally here! We talked about heat stroke in a recent post, but there a re a number of other issues to be aware of now that the heat is on, kids are out of school and the parties are on. While we at District Veterinary Hospital are busy choosing furniture and seeing housecalls, your pup and family are playing outside, going to the beach, having a bbq, or living life in the heat.

In no particular order, we bring to light a few summer (and even year-round) hazards in addition to heat to monitor:


Parties are fun, but they are filled with lots of food, hot grills (more later on grills), people who do not have dogs or are not paying attention to the dog or cat, kids who may not have experience with pets, pools and a host of other hazards. Always remind all gusts that you have pets, and if you have cats that are not allowed outdoors, be certain to have them in a safe area of the house, cordoned off from guests. Parties are one of the most frequent ways cats and dogs get out of houses / yards and become lost. Instruct guests to not feed the dog and keep all food out of reach of the pup. If kids come over, be certain their parents have instructed them on how to behave around a dog – or if needed, keep them separate from the dog or cat.


The scent of a good bbq is irresistible for a dog. They will jump on a grill and burn themselves. Also, be careful that the grill is firmly planted on the ground – grills have fallen over and burned or crushed dogs (even big dogs – we’ve seen it). Dispose of any hot coals – or even cold coals – far away from access to dogs as well.

The Pool

Not all dogs swim. Remember that. They can readily wander into a pool and even drown. Another routine summer hazard.


Many dogs are scared of fireworks and here in the District, we have lots of them going off before and after the Fourth of July. Dogs may run through screen doors or windows when scared by fireworks. We have seen dogs be scared by fireworks and run away by being spooked. We should also note, keep dogs inside or on a leash should you be lighting fireworks. Otherwise, there is nothing to stop a dog from grabbing the firework before it explodes!

Bugs, snakes, you name it

Those of us who work at District Veterinary Hospital have seen our fair share of bug / rodent / snake – related injuries. Mosquitoes are a problem, but bug spray is not safe for dogs or cats (especially cats). If mosquitoes are bugging you, they are buzzing the dog, too. Also remember fleas and ticks – use approved topical preventives – you can always ask us for our recommendations. In the District / Maryland / Virginia area, we have copperhead snakes. If you see one, leash your dog and avoid it. DO NOT APPROACH THE SNAKE. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO KILL THE SNAKE. Should your dog be bitten, seek emergency care as soon as possible.


Similar to fireworks, many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, even if far away. Take similar precautions as with fireworks. Please see our previous post about thunderstorms on our Facebook page.

Retractable Leashes

For many reasons, we are against retractable leashes. We will have a whole post on why, but here’s the skinny: they are too long to prevent dogs from being hit by cars, they allow dog-dog interactions that are not desired, they can give you severe cuts on your fingers, and more.

Play it safe. And remember, if you have any questions, please ask us anytime.


District Veterinary Hospital


© District Veterinary Hospital, 2014

Cats News

Pet Insurance

We are big fans of pet insurance. Differences exist between plans – some are comprehensive and cover everything, others only illness. In general, we recommend illness-based insurance – it will help during those unexpected emergencies and problems. Pet insurance works via reimbursing you, the client directly. When you leave the hospital, you pay the balance and we submit the insurance claim for you, the insurance company processes the claim and sends you a check. Although we don’t endorse a specific company or plan, the following are several insurance carriers our clients have used. Please research what plan is best for you and your friend.