We are always told to learn from our mistakes. But as pet parents we want to do the best for our furry friends which leave little scope for error. We’re here to help! Know some common mistakes of pet parenting and how you can avoid them.
Healthy outside starts from inside
Feeding healthy diet to your pets is important for their growth and healthy lifespan. An unhealthy diet is root cause of health problems. A lot of pet parents don’t have enough knowledge about the components of a healthy diet. So this is what you need to know!
• Pet parents give the same type of feed to their dogs without considering their pet’s age, body weight, activity status which leads to poor nutritional management because nutritional requirement will differ according to age, activity, body weight, etc.
• Changing your pet’s food often is not a good idea. Just because there is a new brand in the market doesn’t mean you have to try it at the earliest. Make sure you buy food based on your pet’s age, health, breed, and other nutritional needs.
• Sometimes feeding dry food becomes a challenge. Your pet might face difficulty in swallowing, and there’s also risk for bacteria and mycotoxins to be present. Storage mites can multiply rapidly in dry food, so be extra cautious. Pets can develop hypersensitivity to storage mites, resulting in itchy inflamed skin, hair loss, and ear infections.
• Don’t fall for their puppy eyes. Feeding table scraps to your pet is a big NO. Human food has salt, garlic, onions, raisins, tomatoes etc. which can have harmful effect on your pet’s health and can cause problems such as renal failure, anaemia, and hormonal imbalance.
• Over feeding treats to make your fur babies happy or to show your love might lead to obesity.
• Many pet parents only feed their pets commercial pet food. This isn’t always necessary and may cause gastro issues. Pets become prone to urolithiasis due to excessive calcium in the diet, and might also develop food allergies. It is best to give a balance of home cooked meals and commercial dog food. You can consult your vet for the best advice.
• Giving excess milk is harmful for pets. Some dogs have lactose intolerance and cannot digest milk properly which leads to diarrhoea, indigestion etc. It is better to give milk diluted with water.
Water – the elixir of life
When it comes to your pet’s nutrition, water plays an important role. It helps in maintaining electrolytes, hydrates the body to maintain circulatory volume. Your pet’s body will naturally lose water all day when they sweat through their paws, when they pant, also in urine and faeces. When lose 10 to 15 percent of water in their body it leads to dehydration and they can get very sick. It can even cause damage to organs like kidneys and liver when persisted for long time.
• Provide clean and ample amount of water.
• Don’t forget to refill the water bowl. It should be refilled at every 3-4 hours.
• Using a common water bowl for all the pets in the house can lead to spread of infection, so keep separate bowls for each pet.
• Use big water bowls for adult and large breed dogs.
Exercise and no
Both you and your pet need optimal exercise to keep your body and mind healthy. When your pet gets enough exercise – it helps your pet to control their weight, be energized throughout the day, and helps maintain a strong cardiovascular and immune system.
Since puppies are constantly growing, including several short walks or play sessions throughout the day is a good idea than going for one really long walk, as this can be too hard on your puppy’s developing body. Old dogs require less exercise. Talk to your vet to know what is the right amount of exercise that your pet needs based on their health status, age, and breed. Regular exercise will help manage behavioural issues in pets as well.
Good grooming goes a long way
Regular grooming is essential for their mental and physical health.
• Train your dog to get used to being touched all over the body like face, tail, paws etc. Introduce them to the buzzing noises so they do not feel uncomfortable with grooming equipments.
• It is a common misconception that you must only brush your pet after they bathe. That’s not true. Dry brushing will help get rid of matted hair and knots and keep their coat shiny.
• Protecting his eyes and ears during bathing is important. Not doing so can lead to infection due to moisture. Also dry him properly after bathing.
• Not using proper shampoo for your pet is a common mistake that a lot of pet parents make. Do not use human shampoo for your furry companions. It will dry their skin, cause skin allergies, and cause an imbalance in the pH level of the skin.
• Clean his eyes, ears, and paws at regular intervals.
• Using dull clippers for cutting nails may cause crushing of nails and will hurt your pet.
• Do not avoid grooming in winters.
Gentle reminder – Time for you and your pet to get vaccinated
Timely vaccination for you and your pet is crucial. For your pets there is an added aspect – deworming. It will protect them from zoonotic diseases such as rabies and other infections.
Follow the proper vaccination and deworming cycle that your vet recommends. Too early or too late vaccination of your pet will not help. Don’t forget to take your pet for booster dose of vaccination after the primary dose
Giving any anti-parasitic or antibiotic medicines orally without verifying with your vet can be fatal. Do not medicate your pet just by reading on the internet. Consult your vet for any health issues.
The best protection is early detection
Sometimes due to their busy schedule pet parents don’t notice some of the behavioural changes, signs of onset of disease such as decrease in activity, lethargy, decrease in food and water intake, gradual weight loss or weight gain. Your pet cannot speak about their illness, but will show signs. So you need to be careful and keep an eye. Early detection will help provide timely treatment and will not worsen your pet’s health.
Monitor your pet’s health keeping in mind these factors –
• Food and water intake
• Urine output, frequency of urination, colour of urine
• Frequency of defecation, consistency and colour of faeces
• Vomiting or diarrhoea
• Activity status of pet
• Check for presence of ecto-parasites, skin and hair lesions, cuts etc.
• Keep an tab on regular vaccination and deworming
Your pet’s health is in your hands. Make healthy choices for yourself and your pet to ensure you both live a healthy and happy life.
(Dr Munja Bharai, Dr Nidhi Patel and Dr Nilesh Gohil are from the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, Anand Veterinary College, Anand, Gujarat)