Sally is an 8 year old female spayed Maltese who used wee wee pads on the kitchen and bathroom floor (both tile floors). One morning the owner noticed that she was limping after she came down the stairs in the morning. She took Sally to the veterinarian who reported her patella (knee cap) was out of place. The vet popped the knee back into place and placed Sally on pain meds for several days. Sally was doing well on the pain meds.
A few weeks after that initial incident, the owner saw Sally on the wee wee pad circling trying to find that perfect position and spot and suddenly Sally fell, screamed, and was limping again. She had reinjured her knee. Off to the veterinarian again! They addressed the knee issue and she appeared to be recovering well except for one thing. She would no longer use wee wee pads. She started to soil on the carpets in the home. This house-soiling had been going on for 5 months prior to my meeting Sally. (* Interesting note- during this 5 month period, the dog stayed at a friends while the owner was on vacation and at the friend’s house, Sally used the wee wee pads).
Dogs have the neuroanatomy to remember scary events. Sally had associated the wee wee pad in her home with a scary event ( the pain associated with the fall) and therefore, no longer wanted to use it. She also developed a fear of tile floors and was hesitant to enter a room with tile floors. We developed a treatment plan to address her fears that also did not put her knee at further risk of injury.
Three weeks after I saw Sally, she was urinating on the wee wee pads AND she was back to playing on tile floors! Sally’s parents were thrilled at her progress. Next steps: get her back to going on wee wee pads in their original locations!