DF: The set response to your common complaint is to keep newspapers away from your dog, but one should always wonder why dogs sometimes do odd things, such as chewing newspapers.
Is she playing, and does she need more suitable and safe chew toys? Perhaps she developed this behavior out of boredom or having been confined in a crate or cage with newspapers on the bottom.
I would have a veterinary checkup done soon, because an abnormal appetite (called pica) can be associated with inflammation in the mouth, such as tonsillitis or gingivitis.
Chewing and swallowing things might help relieve discomfort in the mouth or a stomach ache caused by worms. If your dog is a toy rather than standard poodle, her teeth and gums might need immediate veterinary attention.
Dear Dr. Fox:
I recently wrote in about our two cats. The first one had a bowel problem, and you asked us to write back about the type of food we switched to that fixed it.
We were feeding him Friskies, but after reading your book on why cats have trouble processing many dry cat foods, we switched him to Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance. We used the green pea and chicken variety. The bowel issues have not recurred with either the canned or dry food.
Our other cat developed a habit of urinating in our basement. We lived in this house for four years before the problem started. The concrete floor was painted when we first moved in.
We took him to a veterinarian to have him checked for urinary tract issues. We cleaned the entire floor with a safe, homemade cleaning solution that we read about in your book. We used a black light to try to detect and clean up after the urinating, but none of this helped. We also used a pheromone room diffuser, which made the problem worse. We tried a pheromone spray, added extra litter boxes, tuck-pointed the walls (we were afraid that the slight crumbling of mortar was confusing and might be seen as cat litter) and repainted the floor.
We would welcome any suggestions you might have to stop this behavior.
C.P., St. Louis
DF: I always appreciate feedback from readers who have found my advice helpful (or not) in dealing with health or behavioral problems involving their dogs and cats.
You have really done all that you can to solve your cat’s unwanted behavior, and I commend you for your endurance!
Many cats develop a habitual place-fixation of evacuating outside their litter boxes on the basement floor. I interpret this behavior as being triggered by the earthy and sometimes moldy scent of the cement floor. Most cats will stop soiling the floor when it is sealed with a few coats of epoxy resin-type paint. Temporarily, after cleaning or treating the floor with a sealant, I would cover it with thick plastic sheeting. You can drag this outside, hose it down and let it dry as needed.