Looking after your dog

Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and giving him the best care and attention can help improve the quality and length of his life. Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is certainly necessary to keep him fit and healthy. But other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are just as important. Let’s take a look at all the grooming procedures you can do for your dog to help keep him in good shape:

Grooming your dog

To keep your dog looking and feeling his best, you need to groom him regularly. This is a good opportunity to check the condition of his coat and skin, and to look for any abnormalities such as swellings, wounds or evidence of parasites. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your vet for advice.

Checking your dog’s ears and eyes

When you’re grooming your dog, you should check that his eyes and ears are clean, clear and free from excessive discharge. If his eyes aren’t clean, you can gently clean them with moist cotton batting. Use a different swab for each eye. If his eyes are red, or there is a lot of discharge, get advice from your vet.

As for your dog’s ears, if they’re soiled, you can wipe them with a small pad of dry cotton batting. But don’t delve beyond the area you can see, and don’t poke anything solid inside; the ear is very delicate and can be easily damaged. Dogs with long ears are more likely to suffer from ear complaints, so be extra vigilant with these breeds. A lot of dark wax or discharge in the ear could indicate that your dog has ear mites or an infection. Again, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Why you need to check your dog’s mouth regularly

Check your dog’s mouth regularly. His teeth should be clean and free from deposits, and his gums should be a healthy pink colour. As he ages, deposits may develop around the base of his teeth near the gums. This can lead to bad breath, mouth pain, gum disease, and infections, and eventually it could cause the teeth to fall out. Your vet can scale your dog’s teeth to remove the tartar, remove any loose teeth, and polish the teeth to slow down the recurrence of deposits. Usually, when a vet does this, the dog has to be put under a general anaesthetic.

Brushing your dog’s teeth every day will help to prevent building up of deposits. Use either a special canine toothbrush or a child’s toothbrush, along with toothpaste designed for dogs. Do not use human toothpaste on your dog, as it can cause gastrointestinal upset – and dogs usually hate the taste. If you start brushing your dog’s teeth when he’s young, he’ll become used to the routine. For a treat, give your dog specially designed dog biscuits – such as Pedigree Dentabone – that help reduce the build-up of plaque and tartar, and maintain your dog’s oral health and hygiene.

Check your dog’s nails

It’s also important to keep an eye on your dog’s nails. Dogs who regularly exercise on hard surfaces are less likely to need any attention, as their nails wear down to about the correct length. But if your dog exercises mostly on grass, his nails may grow longer and may need trimming.

Pay particular attention to the dew claws, if he has them, since they don’t come in contact with the ground and don’t become worn down. They tend to grow around in a circle, and may pierce the pad. This is painful to him and may even cause lameness. You can trim the nails yourself, but you have to do it correctly with suitable clippers. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your vet or a professional dog groomer for help.

Don’t let your dog overeat

Please remember that it’s important to control your dog’s body weight and keep him in optimum condition. Feel his body, particularly over the ribs, to check that he’s the correct weight. You should be able to feel the individual ribs under a cover of body tissue. If you have trouble doing this, your vet can do it for you during routine visits. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, it might mean his diet should be changed. Your vet will give you advice on this.

Tips to help your pooch overcome fear of noice

With Diwali just around the corner, everybody is looking forward to the celebrations and festivities. Happiness can be seen everywhere but is it the same for your dog as well? Does your loving canine also enjoy the festivals just like you or does it scare him or make him frantic? Diwali is the time to celebrate and it should be the same for your dog. But, the loud noises of the firecrackers make him scared and anxious. Last year, on Diwali, my dog Jimmi was shivering and whimpering throughout the night. We tried our best to calm her with soothing words and gentle patting, to no avail. However hard we tried to feed her, she did not touch food. While it was a happy time for us, it was really sad to see her suffering. This is more or less the same for all canines.

Here are a few tips to help your canine combat fear of noise:

  • Create a safe place for your dog where he can be shielded from the frightening sound. Associate that space with other good things like treats, food, etc.
  • Try to distract him by engaging him in another activity that captures his attention.
  • Ask your vet for medication to help reduce his anxiety level.
  • Before Diwali time, condition your dog to respond to noise in a non-fearful way. This can be done by using a tape with firecracker noise on it. Play the tape at low volume and give your dog a treat or play with him. Gradually increase the volume and treat him.
  • If the dog shows aggressive behaviour, put him on leash for the time there are noises outside.
  • Request your neighbours and friends not to light crackers which make loud noise.
  • Last but not the least, your kind words, your soothing tone and gentle touch will help him go through any nightmare.

Making summers comfortable for your dog

With summers setting in, the need to care for your beloved canines has become all the more important. Dr. Nehru gives tips for summer care.

We’ve all heard the warning, “Never leave a dog alone in a parked car in warm weather,” but every summer, dogs suffer and die in vehicles that become ovens in a matter of minutes. Many people don’t realise how quickly the temperature can rise inside a car in warm weather. Temperatures do not need to be extremely high outside to reach dangerous levels inside.

Short-nosed breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs, who can’t pant as efficiently as other dogs, young puppies, senior dogs, over-weight dogs, and dogs with respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are even more susceptible to heat-related stress than other dogs. Take extra precautions to prevent over-exertion and keep them cool and comfortable.

Heatstroke:

Dogs become less efficient at cooling themselves as the humidity rises. Just like people, dogs are cooled by evaporation. The problem with high humidity is that it decreases evaporation and slows down the cooling process. There are some factors that hinder canines’ ability to cool themselves. They only have sweat glands on the pads of their feet and on their nose, which are inadequate for cooling during hot and humid days. Panting helps dogs cool themselves but they still aren’t as efficient at cooling themselves as people are. Some of the most common signs of heatstroke include: heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, profuse salivation, vomiting or collapse. It should be treated immediately to avoid fatal consequences. If your dog does become overheated, you must take measures to cool and lower her body temperature immediately. Move the dog to a cool place, out of the sun and give her water. Pour cool water on her and place ice packs on her head and neck. A fan, placed in front of the dog, will aid in evaporation. Consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Rodenticides:

Ingestion of mouse and rat poison is another common danger. These poisons come in cardboard containers filled with poisonous pellets. Since dogs can obviously chew through the cardboard to get the tempting bait, their owners carefully place them in spots their dogs can’t reach. When things are moved for cleaning, the dog is right there to grab the poisonous traps. Rodent poisons may not cause vomiting or other typical symptoms of poisoning. They contain a compound that causes a life-threatening bleeding disorder.

Stinging insects:

When a dog gets stung, it’s usually around the mouth, on the nose or on the front paw. Signs of a sting are – scratching her head, rubbing her head on the ground, bumps or a swelling around the head, face, mouth, tongue, or paws, excessive salivation, or finding a stinger. If you can see the stinger, carefully remove it with a tweezers, and then apply a cold compress to the site. If possible, apply a paste made from a mixture of baking soda and water. Some dogs, like some humans, can be allergic to stings. If your dog has a severe reaction, get veterinary treatment immediately.

Fleas and ticks:

When outdoor temperatures reach 40 degrees, ticks become active and feed. They thrive in warm weather. Apply topical, spot-on products once a month, or as recommended by your vet, for protection from fleas and disease spreading ticks. Use flea and tick protection year round in warm climates. Never use multiple types of flea and tick repellents on a dog at the same time. A mixture of different chemicals can make a dog very sick. Now that the summers have set in, take care of your canine friend. And I bet, you can have an enjoyable time indoors.

(Dr. Sanjeev Nehru, B.V.Sc. & A.H. is canine dental surgeon from GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology. He has been practicing veterinary science since last 10 years and dentistry since last 2 years. He can be contacted at Nehru Bhawan, Indrapuri, Dayalbagh, Agra–282005, Tel.: 0562-2854000, 9897161000, 9837022777 or e-mail at drsanjeev_vet_agra@yahoo.co.in)

Are you a responsible dog owner?

Dog ownership demands a lot of love, commitment and time. There are certain things which should be kept in mind, before bringing home a pup. Adite Chatterjee outlines ten tips to a responsible dog ownership.

Cocoa’s story is sad, but unfortunately, a common tale too. Very often, parents give into their children’s tantrums and bring home a pup. Little or no thought is given to the fact that every pup has his needs; he is a living being who needs to be fed, house-trained, exercised and taught things so that he becomes a member of the family. After the first few weeks of excitement, taking out the pup for walks becomes a chore. The child, at whose insistence, the pup is brought in the first place quickly loses interest, the parents are too busy with their own lives, and the pup is often left at the mercy of helpers.

A bored dog – or one who is not exercised enough – can also be a destructive dog. Dogs are intelligent and often try to grab your attention by doing the most maddening things. When my dog was just about 10 months old, he took to this extremely annoying habit of jumping on to the bed, lifting his leg and peeing, even as he looked straight into my eyes. At first, I was truly appalled and upset by his behaviour but soon I realised that my dog was communicating to me in a manner that needed no words! Action, attention and involvement were what he wanted. At 10 months of age, he had boundless energy and being cooped up in a flat, while I was busy attending to my home-office was not his idea of fun!

With dog ownership comes a responsibility. Dogs are meant to share our homes and be our companions and for that we need to become more responsible dog owners. Here are ten easy ways of being a responsible dog owner:

Don’t get a dog for the wrong reasons?:

Hydrotherapy:swimming into good health

Just as with people, hydrotherapy can be used for dogs after an injury or surgical procedure, or for chronic conditions, to help regain strength and mobility. It has been proven to speed recovery time from surgery, improve function and minimize complications. Early intervention may help them recover more quickly and completely. There is a growing consensus among veterinarians and pet owners in the United States and Europe, that a little exercise in water can be very beneficial in improving the health and quality of life for dogs. Whether young and bursting with health and energy, old and feeling sore or stiff from arthritis, or recovering from injury or surgery, hydrotherapy has something in store for almost all dogs.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy, sometimes also called aquatic or swim therapy, is a complimentary treatment that is coming to popularity. It is a form of active assisted exercise that includes the use of a swimming pool, underwater treadmill, or therapy spa to engage an animal in swimming activities. The health benefits of active assisted hydrotherapy have been studied extensively and are now recognized by modern veterinary surgeons around the world. Aquatic exercise is purposely advised for increasing muscle strength, balance and stamina, and is essentially a part of many rehabilitation programmes.

What are its benefits?

According to Dr. Jeffrey Norton, Surgery Resident at VCA/All Care Animal Referral Center in Fountain Valley, California, USA, hydrotherapy has numerous goals and benefits, including the restoration of muscle function in the post-operative period. The decision to initiate hydrotherapy is based on the patient’s tolerance, the clinical judgment of the veterinarian, and the availability of physical rehabilitation facilities. Restoration of muscle function following surgery is critical. Water provides more resistance than air; and due to the additional support, the likelihood of further injury during exercise is reduced. However, this is a new field which is yet to be well-regulated. Apart from swimming, underwater treadmill also has its benefits to offer. As the water in a treadmill lifts 60% of the dog’s weight off its feet, while still allowing the feet to touch the ground, dogs move normally and are not frightened. This reduces the chance of injury due to thrashing and hyperextension, as it sometimes happens in a regular pool, especially to dogs who have just had surgery. Moving against the resistance of the water strengthens muscles and improves balance and coordination.

Other benefits include decreasing pain and facilitating healing of injured and inflamed tissues, preventing further disuse and atrophy of affected muscles, improving strength and function of weak or paralysed limbs, besides facilitating weight loss and improving general overall condition. Hydrotherapy also relieves pain and stiffness caused by arthritis and provides positive psychological effects for both the dog and the owner.

What kind of exercises does it offer?

Hydrotherapy facilities currently can offer hydrotherapy rehabilitation, which include swimming, massage for exercise, underwater treadmill, and conditioning purposes.

What are the factors to be considered in hydrotherapy?

The function of a treadmill varies with design. There are specific designs for dogs, rather than one adapted from a human or horse treadmill. Adapted treadmills can cause injury or death to weak dogs. The extreme turbulence in horse or human treadmill could prove hazardous for dogs.

Other factors like suitable water temperature, depth of the pool, noise level, chlorine level, etc should be equally considered. And most importantly, an expert should be attending the dog while the exercise goes on. Hydrotherapy providers should be clean, well-informed, insured and have a valid business license. Following certain guidelines will help dogs enjoy the benefits that swimming and hydrotherapy offer.

(Judy Teresa Pogreba is the Founder and President of See Spot Swim, Inc?–?a canine hydrotherapy, rehabilitation and conditioning center in USA. More information can be had from www.seespotswim.com. And further details on underwater treadmills can be obtained from www.animalrehab.co.uk or www.ferno.com)

Myths and truths about dog keeping

Many people wish to keep a pet dog but are surrounded by certain myths that stop them from fulfilling their wish. Not only this, some of the dog owners go to an extent of abandoning their pet dogs because of these myths. Dr. S.K. Pandey addresses certain common myths and truths about dog keeping. In this changing world, each one of us strives for betterment and have very little time left for our family members. In such a situation, pet dog is the one who gives unconditional love and loyalty. However, many people are hesitant in keeping a dog as they believe in certain myths about them, which are infact baseless.

Here are some myths about dog keeping:

Every dog bite causes Rabies: Rabies is a dreadful viral disease that is transmitted to human beings through the bite of rabies infected dog, monkey or rodents. It is to be clearly understood that bite of a normal healthy vaccinated dog does not cause rabies. This bite is just like a normal injury that may be treated normally. The pet dog remains totally free from rabies until bitten by a rabid animal, which happens only when the pet dog is left to stray out.

Dogs cause asthma and allergies?:?Asthma and allergies are primarily genetic in nature that may be triggered by certain allergens. Amongst many other allergens, certain secretions from dogs may also trigger the problem. But, this happens only if an individual is allergic to this secretion, which is a rare possibility. Hence, it is to be clearly understood that the presence of dog in the house is not the cause of asthma and allergies. On the contrary, the incidence of these problems is less in families where dogs are kept. This happens because the presence of low-grade allergens makes the body immune.

Dogs transmit many diseases to human beings?:?A well-kept dog does not transmit any disease to the human beings. The serious and dreadful diseases of dogs like parvo virus, canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine influenza etc are not transmitted to human beings. Other problems that may be transmitted by dogs are skin problems and tape worm infestation, both of these happen only if the hygiene conditions are compromised with.

Dogs will harm the new born babies?:?It is a pity to see that many pet dogs are abandoned with the arrival of a new born baby in the family since they feel that dogs will harm them. This myth is totally baseless as it is invariably seen that a well-behaved and socialised pet dog in the house is very protective towards the infants and never harms them. There are many instances when dogs have come to the rescue of infants and children through their guarding and protective instinct. However, it is advisable to watch the attitude of the dog towards the new born baby before a close proximity is maintained.

Dog recognise only one master and may attack other family members?:?Dogs are very sensible and they easily recognise all the family members. They enjoy family life. Aggression in dogs is however due to various other reasons like provocation from some family members, lack of training and exercise. It should be ascertained that the dog is properly socialised during the initial phase of life to avoid any untoward incidence.

Infact, dogs change the outlook of a person and you can lead a fulfilling life if you have one.

Here are some of the benefits of keeping a dog at home:

Dog brings discipline and joy in your life?:?A dog in the family can change the lifestyle of the owner and suddenly you become more disciplined, happy and healthy. This is because health and joy goes with their normal temperament.

  • You need to take your dog for morning and evening walks which are good for your health as well.
  • With this furry bundle of energy, you cannot throw things around as he can chew it up. So, your house is more organised.
  • When you are feeling low, your pet dog will pull you out from it through his love, affection and mischief. Best companion : Dogs provide excellent company to old, children and other disabled people who find their life more meaningful when they spend their time with them.

Dog acts as a stress buster?:?Today, life is full of stress, which may lead to health hazards such as insomnia, anxiety, high BP, heart problems, low immunity, gastric ulcers, etc. When you spend quality time with your dog, you are able to detach yourself from the mundane problems of life. Interestingly, there are reports that people with dogs live a healthier life. They are found to have fewer incidences of heart ailments, blood pressure problem, psychological disorders and stress induced aches and pains.

(Dr. S.K. Pandey, M.V.Sc. (Medicine), apart from his specialisation in canine medicine, holds special interest in dog behaviour, nutrition and lifestyle. He can be contacted at: Doggy World & Fish Planet, B-6/147, Sector-8, Rohini, Delhi, Ph: 011-27942285, 09811299059, 09811299055.)

A vet’s dilemma…

Dr. Aradhana Pandey tells how important it is to know the history of the pet for proper treatment.

Every vet works with an intention to provide best cure to his patient. For treatment success, a vet’s expertise should be complimented by owner’s co-operation, understanding and patience.

Treating a pet is unlike treating a human being since they cannot tell their plight; hence it becomes completely important to know the history. And to my dilemma, I come across people who just present the case without telling anything about the ailment. At these times, it really becomes difficult to correctly diagnose and treat the case. In vet practice, history of the case is the key to diagnose the problem. So, if a proper, detailed and correct history is not available, the vet is placed in a very uncomfortable situation. I would briefly like to discuss a case that pulled me to a serious state of dilemma – what to do and what not?

“A GSD pup, four months of age, was presented with the problem of diarrhoea and vomiting. Nothing could be pinpointed from the vague history provided by the owner. The pup was symptomatically treated and was all right in two days. But the problem recurred after a day. The laboratory examination done this time hinted towards toxemia (poisoning) but the cause could not be pinpointed since the owner was non-cooperative. With symptomatic treatment, the problem again subsided in two days but recurred again after a day. To find a clue, I made a visit to their house and inspected the place. Fortunately, that was the time when the maid was cleaning the floor with phenyl water and the pup was happily drinking the water and this was the problem.”

Many such incidents happen wherein a vet cannot do anything without the help of the pet’s owner.

Basic questions for proper diagnosis and good treatment response

  • When it happened?
  • How it happened?
  • How it progressed?
  • Was it treated? If yes, how?

Common poisonous cases in pets, which only owner can tell

  • Pet getting exposed to manure put in the garden.
  • Pet eating cement and licking paint during construction in the house.
  • Pet picking toxic substances from the park.
  • Pet given bath with an insecticidal shampoo.
  • Pet getting exposed to certain poisonous compounds present in house.

Steps for effective treatment outcome

Pets cannot voice their ailments. Being a responsible owner also means to help the pet to speak out through your voice. Only then, the vet can help your best friends to live a healthy life. Bringing the pet immediately to the vet- Avoidance in timely turn up to the vet may have serious consequences since the damages to various systems of the body may get aggravated. Since the pet cannot tell his plight, it is your prime responsibility to take him to a vet for timely diagnosis and treatment.

Avoiding self-medication- Some pet owners do not take the ailments seriously and indulge in self-medication. This not only kills time but also any wrong treatment done may turn a simple case to a complicated one, making it difficult for a vet to handle.

Following the prescribed treatment schedule- Treatment is not magic. Every disease has a course of therapy, which if not followed properly, may lead to treatment failure and disease relapse.

Carrying the vaccination and other treatment records- Certain viral diseases are very dangerous and difficult to treat. Present the record of the vaccination against these diseases to enable your vet to determine the course of treatment. Absence of the previous treatment records also poses difficulty in deciding the further course of treatment.

Caring for the sick animals- Love, care and affection is the key to successful treatment. If ignored, even the most effective treatment could also go down the drain.

(Dr. Aradhana Pandey runs Doggy World – the pet’s paradise catering to all doggy needs under one roof. A veterinarian with MBA in marketing, she believes in service to the customer at an affordable cost, without compromising on quality. She can be contacted at Tel: 9811299059, 011-27942285, 011-55817851 or e-mail: aradhana14@yahoo.com)

Tickle your canine paws

People often ask me, “Why would you ever want to mess around with feet – especially dog’s paws?” The answer is simple: feet are connected with well-being. And maintaining well-being for your dog can lead to a fuller, more joyful life. Spicer is a 9-year-old Beagle who was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and a ruptured disk in her neck. In November 2002, Spicer was being given pain medication daily and had occasional episodes of pain. I began canine foot reflexology on her once a week. She responded immediately and appeared to have less pain. After 6 months, her owner began decreasing her pain medicines. After a few months, she was completely taken off pain medicines. It has been two and a half years and Spicer appears to be in no pain. Her owner has learned canine foot reflexology and gives her a session occasionally. She plays, digs in the yard and runs and jumps. Such is the power of canine foot reflexology.

What is foot reflexology?

In 1982, while attending classes in Houston at the now closed Esoteric Center, I took a course in reflexology, which changed my life. Foot reflexology is the art of using various techniques to apply pressure to points on the foot. These points are thought to be conductors of electrical energy. When pressure is applied, it sends energy to all parts of the body. When energy flow is interrupted, a breakdown in the body can occur and often illness or discomfort sets in. Stimulating the pressure points on a foot can release energy blockage and return the energy flow to normal – relieving illness and discomfort.

The history of reflexology is elusive and difficult to trace. There are some who believe that the practice of anointing the feet with oil was a form of foot reflexology. It has worked for many people and dogs.

Canine foot reflexology

I am a life-long dog-lover and soon I began to wonder if our canine friends would benefit from the same reflexology practiced on humans. As it turns out, they do. Just a few of the benefits experienced in dogs who have had reflexology are: relaxation, improved circulation, increased energy, decreased pain, released tension and overall sense of well-being. Tiw, my four-year-old Boxer, has had foot reflexology sessions since he was one year old. He loves the sessions and usually sleeps for a while after one.

Many of the dogs I have worked with have shown remarkable improvement after a series of sessions. My sessions usually last 30-45 minutes and take place about once a week.

The feet of a dog are very important to their survival. Initially, they may be shy about having them touched but once they become aware of this nurturing, loving process, they usually respond enthusiastically. Owners, interested in practicing reflexology, should prepare their dogs by lovingly holding their feet (to allow the dog to become accustomed to someone touching them). Dog caretakers are delighted to see their animals returning to wellness and balance.

Who can learn the technique

The strength of canine foot reflexology is that it is a technique that can be easily learned by everyone! Not only do I practice canine foot reflexology, but I also teach others how to help their canine companions. I encountered a case where a dog did not let me touch her. Georgia, a two-year-old Lab-Chow mix, had been given a diagnosis of hip dysplasia. I attempted to work with Georgia but she would not allow me to work with her feet. Her human did learn the reflexology techniques. Today, Georgia is healthy– thanks to something as simple as “messing with feet!”

(Sue Red Stackhouse is a registered nurse. Sue began working with canine foot reflexology and documented the dog foot reflex chart. For more info, visit their website www.caninefootreflexology.com)

Keeping your pooch warm in winters

For most pet lovers trying to envisage a moment of absolute contentment, the image of sitting in the wintry sunshine with their pet animal in their lap would probably come forth unbidden. For any pet lover, the word “warm cuddle” would evince the response “my pet” as the season for warm cuddles with our furry friends is round the corner. It seems that by some divine design our dogs and cats have been specially attired for this season. But nothing puts a bigger dampener on this season of cheer than a bout of cold, cough and sneezes. Some of us have an unfortunate tendency of believing that our pets don’t succumb to the vagaries of winter as easily as we do. The truth is that they need as much care to be able to return that warm cuddle.

Following is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you give your pets the cold weather care they deserve.

  • Pups are unable to handle extreme weather conditions so make sure they are always well covered. Pay special attention at night time as pups may fall asleep on the bare floor and catch a bad chill. A warm bedding with a cosy blanket should suffice. Its better to serve warm food. Avoid giving cold water, curd, ice creams etc. A warm water sponge is a better alternative to bathing.
  • All the vaccinations and deworming should be up to date as viruses thrive at this time of the year.
  • A change of season is the time when the physiological apparatus of the body is under duress and leads to a lowered resistance against common diseases. So make sure the pet is well nourished. Switching to a commercial dry dog food will make things simpler. The food should be calorie rich to generate enough energy to cope with the cold especially so for dogs living at higher altitudes. An increase in fats and proteins is also recommended.
  • Protect your pet with woollen clothes as per the individual requirement. In places where it snows, the pet should be kept indoors to avoid unnecessary exposure and to prevent snow related accidents. Specially designed footwear for dog paws should be used when taking out for walks to prevent frostbite.
  • Towel or blow-dry your dog if he gets wet from rain or snow. Pay special attention to paws. Vaseline can be used to remedy dry paws, muzzle and small cracks/cuts.
  • Outdoor dogs need extra protection in the form of an elevated, well-covered shelter to protect against the cold breeze. Extreme cold conditions warrant the use of heaters equipped with humidifiers.
  • Change walk timings to later in the morning and earlier in the evening. Apart from providing them with sunlight it will also keep them away from chilly part of the day.
  • Do not clip your pet’s hair at this time of the year as it provides them with natural insulation. Most dogs shed their summer coats before getting a new winter coat. Dry skin is common in indoor pets probably because of use of heaters leading to low humidity. To remedy this frequent brushing and providing them with hair care supplements is advised.
  • Ideally bring down the bathing frequency to once in 2 months.
  • Dogs are just as likely to get dehydrated in winters as in summers, so always provide them with fresh water.
  • People who have never experienced their pet having a cough might confuse it for retching/vomiting. A cough, if left untreated, may develop into pneumonia. There can also be heavy dripping from the nose or a thick nasal/ocular discharge. Causes might include a simple bacterial infection or an influenza virus in unvaccinated dogs.
  • Smog might trigger an attack in an asthmatic dog so be well prepared in advance with emergency medicines. Allergies are common with the change in season and can simply be remedied with anti-allergy drugs.
  • Vomiting and loose motions could be a simple reaction to the season change or a bacterial infection. It can also indicate the presence of deadly virus such as canine parvovirus or canine distemper. Either ways do not delay the treatment.
  • Old dogs should be showered with the kind of care and attention that we would give to our grandparents or any other old person for that matter. Old age can inflict several problems like arthritis, lowered immunity to respiratory infections, heart ailments, etc. The winter cold can exacerbate any such existing problem. If your dog has trouble getting up, sitting down, is limping or gets stiff after exercise, these could be the initial warning signs of osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative joint disease and appropriate medication for pain relief should be provided. Supplements like cod liver oil have proven to be helpful.

So here’s wishing all the pets a healthy, warm and a cheery winter.

(Dr. Kamaldeep Chaggar started working with animals at the age of 13 at her father’s clinic. She  did her B.V.Sc & A.H. from P.A.U. Ludhiana. After graduating, she moved to London to further enhance her veterinary skills. For the past 6 years, in partnership with her vet brother Dr R.S. Chaggar, she has been operating from their three privately owned practices in South Delhi. Call her at : 9811389089.)

Tips for enjoying the festive season with your pet:

  • Keep the dogs indoors or where he feels secure. A room that is calm and less noisy is preferred. Give him his favourite toy, usual bed and utensils.
  • Introduce dogs gradually to sound of crackers from puppy hood in an attempt to condition them or desensitise them, starting from sound or very small crackers.
  • Make your children aware that your friendly pet is bound to suffer if they burn crackers near the house. Encourage them to buy sparkling crackers that make less noise.
  • Take precaution regarding feeding and keep water available all the time. Dogs may consume only water during noisy days. Do not keep the dog alone and locked up in a room as it may increase his anxiety.
  • Do not punish the dog for being panicky, on the contrary, pamper him with your love and attention which will soothe his nerves.