Sometimes, pet parents with the best of intentions still make serious mistakes when it comes to the health of their dog. Here are a few common mistakes pet parents make.
Not getting preventive care: Taking your dog to the vet for regular examinations and getting her the appropriate vaccinations and deworming can prevent many diseases. Instead of coping with lengthy treatment of an advanced or chronic condition, your vet can catch such issues in their beginning stages. Early care saves you heartburn and money in the long run. Simply getting your dog vaccinated isn’t the same as a full physical examination. Your pet should be examined at regular intervals to keep a check on any change in the normal appearance.
Neglecting dental care: Dogs need dental care for the same reason we do i.e. to prevent teeth and gum diseases. Like human teeth, plaque forms on a dog’s teeth after eating. If left unattended, the plaque builds, causing inflammation, decay, and eventually bone and tooth loss. And while this silent war goes on in your dog’s mouth, he’s probably experiencing pain you don’t notice because dog instinctively hides pain. Gum disease is five times more common in dogs than it is in humans. But it’s easy to prevent by following a dental care regimen that includes daily brushings, good quality dog food, safe teeth-cleaning treats and chew toys.
Overfeeding: Rewarding and loving dogs with food may lead to obesity. Overweight or obese dogs are at higher risk for arthritis and other orthopaedic issues as well as other health problems. Select a good quality dog food and take tips on exercise and treats from your veterinarian.
Sharing medication: Another dangerous health mistake pet parents make is giving dogs human medications. Some of the medications can be very toxic to dogs. Pain killers such as ibuprofen can be the most common cause of pet poisoning. Even small doses can be toxic. Antidepressants, muscle relaxants, decongestants, vitamin D derivatives, oral diabetes medicines, and other common human drugs can lead to complications ranging from seizures to coma to death. Always keep medication secure in a high, locked cabinet and never discard medication where pets or children can get to it. If you’re worried that your dog may have eaten an over-the-counter or prescription pill you dropped from the trash, immediately seek vet’s advice.
Delaying critical care: Dogs don’t have the words to let us know exactly what they’re feeling. Your dog could be in pain, sick, and even gravely ill – and chances are you wouldn’t know it because of dog’s instinct to hide infirmity. Don’t wait to see if a health problem in your dog gets better on its own. Call your vet if your dog isn’t eating or is eating less, is vomiting, seems lethargic, has diarrhoea or fever, or just doesn’t seem well.
Car ride without securing: A loose dog can be a distraction to a driver, and in an accident, the dog can injure himself or others in the car. There are plenty of canine restraint products in the market, choose one made of hard, high-impact plastic and secure it to the frame of the vehicle in the middle, if possible.
Dog off leash in open areas: If you’re walking your dog along the road or letting him be off leash with you, there are chances of accidents or hit by vehicles. While it’s possible to teach a dog to come when called under nearly any circumstances, it’s unlikely that most pet parent will do so. That’s OK; that’s why there are leashes. If your dog won’t walk on leash without pulling, get a trainer’s help.
Young children and pets without proper supervision: Adult’s supervision is necessary to prevent any mishap. Make children understand that dogs should not be disturbed while eating and sleeping. Parents should ensure that younger children don’t tug on sensitive areas of a dog – such as ears, tail, etc. Always keep children and pets under adult’s supervision.
Not following directions: Your family vet gives you directions for a reason. Always give medications as prescribed (in amount, in frequency and in duration). Always take food away after 8 pm the night before anaesthesia or surgery. Allow your pet to drink water until the morning of anaesthesia or surgery. Come back for rechecks or x-rays or bandage changes as directed. Keep your pet confined after surgery. Keep the plastic cone on round the clock to prevent licking or chewing at the stitches.
Let’s avoid these mistakes and let’s not compromise with the health of our canine buddies.
(Dr Geeta Sharma, MVSc (surgery), MBA is based in New Delhi and she is author of two books – ‘Dog Care’ and ‘Cat Care’. She is acclaimed by Limca Book of Records and India Book of Records as youngest vet to do spay in shortest span of time).