The Answer To Keeping Your Animal Companions Dry & Comfortable ~ Help For Special Needs Or Incontinence
I wanted to share this information for any of you moms, dads, and care takers of sweet souls in animal bodies that have special needs like Cosmo who can no longer pull himself into a litter box to pee, or who are simply incontinent.
I can’t believe it took this long to discover this little, but very helpful trick, but I’m grateful I have now and for the process of learning that Cosmo and I have gone through, which has been a growth and bonding experience.
After nearly a year of him having a permanent home with us and in my heart, I have stumbled upon a fantastic remedy for urination in any place other than a litter box or designated area that would otherwise be a challenge.
So, I’ll rewind first before sharing the new found solution.
When Cosmo first came to me I was using a system of thick towels underneath him to absorb his urine.
This was comfortable, but not at all helping with keeping him dry, as the towels remain wet and he would just be laying in wetness until I changed them out. This would happen immediately when I was awake and home, but through the night he would have to wait until the morning.
That didn’t last for long, as we then purchased disposable pee pads and I would lay those on top of the towels, providing cushion underneath, but pee pads I could more easily dispose of, without washing.
This still, however, didn’t do the trick, as while the disposable pee pads capture the urine, they must be changed immediately since they remain saturated and kept him wet if he was laying on it.
I didn’t really see another choice though, but to stay on top of changing out pee pads and because we could easily order a 3 pack of 50 count in each pack (total of 150) of disposable pee pads on Amazon for $26.50, which breaks down to about 18 cents per pee pad, that seemed like an inexpensive way to go and since I work from home, I just changed them out all the time.
My senses are heightened (like an animal’s) so I immediately smell when he’s done something the moment it starts happening and I’m on it.
This was the system for a long time…nearly the year we had him. Starting out first in his protective pen when we had to wait for the bonding to take place between him and Joy, and then on the carpet of my office in the house we were living in.
At the point of being on the carpet, I would also add yoga mats under the towels and then the pee pads over the towels to provide a lot of cushion and absorption in case of things moving and accidents happening.
We’re so lucky that Cosmo is such a good boy and so conscious of knowing where he can pee. He won’t pee unless on his designated areas and will even hold it when being held, out of respect and courtesy, until I put him back on his pee pads.
I know that isn’t always the case for everyone’s animals and Cosmo still has control of his bladder, so he isn’t at the point of incontinence and I don’t have to manipulate his bladder to help him to urinate, which can also be a possibility with aging rabbits like him and Joy.
Again, super lucky and grateful so far that they aren’t to that point.
Anyway, when we moved into the RV, I continued with the usual protocol and under the designated area for Cosmo and Joy, I put down their yoga mats over the carpet, towels/blankets over them, and pee pads on top of those.
But I started to get frustrated with this for a couple of reasons.
For one, the thin, disposable pee pads are thin and slippery. So Cosmo was constantly having to use a lot of energy to turn himself and move because getting a grip wasn’t easy on that slippery surface.
This eventually led one time to the two pads – one on each front paw – of his thumb and pinky where he would be causing friction from that shuffling around, to become swollen and red, then bleeding one day.
Luckily I immediately noticed and took care of his paws, so they have healed now, but I didn’t like that this could be a possibility again, which likely had been building up all that time.
And two, the issue constantly with the disposable pee pads was that he would have periods of sitting in wetness and so his fur would be saturated on his right side in urine, which no matter how hard I tried, would lead to matting and loss of fur in that area.
The fur would grow back after it peeled away, but I hated seeing this and having him go through it.
It didn’t matter that I bathed and dried him every single day, spending an hour or more doing that and grooming him, because it would just repeat itself.
It was an endless cycle of frustration. And if you’re a mom or dad, you understand the feeling of helplessness and pain you feel in seeing your little ones go through things.
So, despite Cosmo’s ever-loving, patient, grateful, and understanding disposition, I needed another way.
So I continued to try to find one, researching around when I could for something else.
It was two or three weeks before Christmas that I decided to switch from disposable to washable pee pads because of the incident with his bleeding toe pads that happened just a little before that. (By the way, if not caught, this can develop into an infection into the bone.)
I felt that a thicker and softer material would be more soothing and comforting for Cosmo, rather than the more sterile, although easy to dispose of and change out, pee pads.
So, I began researching to find some good ones and came across these, also on Amazon, that come in 10 different sizes, depending on your needs:
It was initially going to be a higher cost than disposables, but they would last a really long time and be cozier for Cosmo, aka Tiny Tim.
We have an odd area here in the RV so I had to measure it all out and got 6 pads to fully cover the area…4 smaller ones, and 2 larger ones.
I then got two sets of these so that while I washed some, I could replace them with the others.
They fit perfectly and worked really well, not to mention looked much neater in the space, but also were much more comfy for little Cosmo.
The larger sizes I got absorb up to 8 cups of liquid and the smaller ones absorb up to 3 cups. So that’s pretty good and seemed more than adequate for Cosmo AND Joy, who has learned from Cosmo that pee pads are for bunnies too…not just litter boxes. LOL!
As long as they are doing their thing where it’s designated, we’re happy. So if Joy wants to use both her litter box AND pee pads, that’s okay with us. 🙂
Anyway, for a few weeks I’d been using the washable cotton pads, but still wasn’t satisfied.
While they absorb great and are easy to wash and dry, and provide more comfort for Cosmo, the surface still remains wet. Not quite like the disposables, but still plenty enough to have Cosmo’s fur affected.
So mom didn’t give up and researched some more.
It was just around Christmas that I stumbled upon a site about special needs rabbits where I found my answer, finally.
On this site they shared a lot of information about caring for special needs rabbits that can’t walk, but it was the info about how to keep them dry that got my attention.
According to this person, they shared that if you get synthetic wool and place it on top of the pee pads, the material absorbs the liquid/urine and lets it pass through to the pee pad, but remains dry on the surface.
It was worth a try.
So not long after that I went out to Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store, after measuring out the spaces to cover the pee pads, and found a dark forest green synthetic wool/felt – the best and closest thing they had to this. They cut me the fabric and I went about laying it all out the next day.
We have protected the carpeted area where they are with plastic mats cut to fit the area, in case of spillage, so those are over the carpet, on top of that I have the spongy yoga mats for cushion, and then the cotton washable pee pads over that, and lastly topped off with the layer of dark forest green synthetic wool felt, just as you see in the photo above of Cosmo.
I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I was hopeful.
At the least, I could tell he really liked it right away. It was comfortable, cozy, and easier for him to get around with. I could see him enjoying it the moment I put him on it. And Joy as well.
It was like I’d created a forested special sanctuary without all of that sterile quality that was snug like a little bunny hole under ground.
But then the true test came with the first urination.
Would it work?
Cosmo soon did his thing and I investigated the area.
When the urine first comes out you can see it on the surface, but it then quickly starts moving through, just as they said, gets absorbed by the pee pads beneath, and the surface dries.
This continued and even after an 8 hour period of sleep at night, when I come to check them out in the morning and run my hands over the forest green, everything is dry on the surface.
When I lift up the felt, the pee pads are saturated and wet.
Yay for miracles!!!
Since using this system, which is only like a week or so now, Cosmo’s fur is staying dry and this has lessened the amount of time and depth of cleaning he needs, as mostly now it’s cecotrope related (the digestive fecal matter they produce that is beneficial for them to ingest), the random times some urine gets on his legs in the process of urinating, and a small residue that likely is on his fur while it is doing its absorption down into the pee pads, although he is now always completely dry when I pick him up and find him in the morning.
Before this he would be saturated and soaked on his right side….not good!
I like my baby clean, and so I am on it with continuing to care for him, as I would myself. After all, wouldn’t you do the same for your own human child?
Anyway, big yay!
And I anticipate that his fur will be better now and likely not go through the cycles of losing fur and having bear pink skin, growing it back, and then losing it again.
I’m a happy mom.
And I’m happy to share that Cosmo had a good check up yesterday at the vet. Other than wax build up in his ears that he can’t clean himself, which they removed, he is a healthy little boy and once again they complimented me on how well I take care of his fur and cleaning him, even though he has bare areas of skin right now waiting to grow back. The skin is healthy and dry.
They said a lot of people they see bring in their rabbits that have challenges, are not taking care to clean around their bum and they have fecal matter stuck, etc. Or the skin has sores and abrasions, etc.
Please care for your animal babies.
So, I share all of this because I want others who have challenges and want to see their animal companions healthy and happy, to feel empowered to do the most you can to help them.
If you have an animal companion with urination challenges, I’ve found this technique I’ve shared to really actually work.
I know it’s a lot of time, effort, and energy on your part to care for your little ones, but don’t you want them to live out the time they have, being the healthiest and cleanest as possible?
It doesn’t take long to wash and dry the pee pads. I recommend having two sets so you don’t lose a step in between waiting for them.
I also got two sets of the synthetic wool felt so that while I wash those, I can put the others down.
One thing to keep in mind with the synthetic wool is not to wash and dry them in the machine. Just rinse by hand and let dry, as they will shrink.
I hope this is helpful for anyone out there struggling as I have to find a way to help my little one live most comfortably.
I am so grateful I finally found that site with the information that brought me to this, so hopefully this post will be that light at the end of the tunnel for someone else.
Posted on January 5, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged animals with urinary challenges, incontinence, keeping animals dry, pee pads, rabbits, special needs animals. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.