Puppy Care

Nurturing a pup made easy

Looking to bring a puppy home? Whether you are considering a Pedigreed pooch or a mutt, would-be pet parents must not walk blindly into the adoption process without thinking it out thoroughly. Here are 10 tips to help you along this process.

01 Adopting a puppy at the wrong time: The wrong time could be for both the puppy and the prospective pet parents. Never adopt a puppy who is less than six weeks old. It is the puppy’s birth right to receive love and nourishment from his mother and play with his siblings. The mother’s milk is also full of immunoglobulins which protect the puppy until the age of two months. If you feel the breeder is trying to pass a really small puppy as older (yes, this happens) gets a vet to examine him.

Do not adopt a puppy when there is a major emotional or financial upheaval at home. Getting a dog

Puppy Care

Yana & Mohini

during a major cash crunch, just before moving to a new city or even just after a new baby in the house puts too much pressure on both parties. Puppies and pet parents need to spend a lot of quality time together. So time it right.

02 Bringing home the wrong dog: Fell in love with the little Golden Retriever puppy in the pet store window? Find those waifish eyes and goofy face irresistible? He’s so tiny right? Well, he is now. But remember, he is going to grow to an 80 pound adult. That’s a lot of dog to fit in one tiny apartment. Get a Dachshund instead. He’s probably not going to take up much room.

03 Breed specific idiosyncrasies: While every breed comes with certain qualities, they also have some problems. Most large and giant breed of dogs in India have canine hip dysplasia. Brachycephalic breeds (flat-nosed) come with problems like Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS, dry eye syndrome) and short airway syndrome. Presence of such conditions is difficult to determine at the time of adoption. However, they are invariably present. Speak to your vet about the breed you have in mind before adopting. Be prepared to make major changes in your current lifestyle to improve your dog’s quality of life. Large breed dogs need carpeted flooring at home and lots of walking outdoors. KCS requires frequent administration of eye drops, probably throughout life.

04 Immunisations: A puppy adopted at six weeks of age must receive his first immunisation within one week. Immunisation schedule may vary from region to region, even practice to practice. However, the fact remains that the complete immunisation schedule must be followed. Find a reputed vet and choose a good brand of vaccines. These vaccines must be maintained under ‘cold-chain’, which means the temperature must be maintained between four and eight degrees centigrade from the time it is manufactured to the time it is administered to your pet. Otherwise the injected vaccine may not produce the desired level of immunity.

05 Feeding your puppy baby food: Most new pet parents start feeding their new arrivals with human infant food like ‘Cerelac’. Unfortunately the nutritional requirements of an infant puppy are different from that of a human infant. In a period of accelerated growth, like that which is observed in the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, nutritional deficiencies could lead to skin and growth disorders.
Breeders most often wean puppies onto puppy food, so when adopting a puppy, make sure you find out which brand was being fed, the consistency of the food and frequency. It is critical that you keep the puppy on this same food for the first three days after his arrival to avoid indigestion. Then change him over to starter food slowly, over the period of a week.

06 Overfeeding your puppy: Let’s just all agree, it’s the Indian attitude to express love through food. But that is not true, either for humans or for dogs. Overfeeding a puppy leads to obesity later on in life. This leads to a number of problems including osteoarthritis and crippling lameness in some dogs. Therefore, only feed as recommended on the diet chart present on every bag of dog food.

07 Not exercising your pet enough: Long before dogs were domesticated, they were predators. They hunted in packs for food. The same instinct endeared their lupine forefathers to human. Dogs were initially domesticated to protect and hunt for man. Later on, they were used for herding. Of late, however, dogs are adopted just to be loved. Humans often forget that dogs have very keen minds and need good physical and mental activity to cater to their primeval instincts. People underestimate how much energy lies bundled up in their dogs. This is the reason dogs resort to destructive behaviour – because they have little else to do.

So, take your little pooch over to the walled terrace or front yard for a good romp. Later on, after she is immunised, put on your jogging shoes and take her out for a walk, at least twice daily.

08 Obedience training: Obedience training is the canine version of education. Obedience training should never be an attempt to turn your dog into an automaton. It, however, is the key to good communication between you and your pet. For example, instinct dictates a dog on a leash must pull. According to the dog, by pulling, he is only doing what he thinks is the right thing to do. Of course, the pet parent is going through hell trying to keep his dog from being run over. Leash walking, which is a part of obedience training, educates the dog that by walking next to the pet parent and letting him lead will keep them both happy.

Enlist the help of a good trainer to help with canine communication. Start young. Obedience training starts with potty training.

09 Sterilisation: Every pet puppy needs to be sterilised. Period. Do not be taken in by people saying that a female dog must be bred at least once in her life-time to satisfy her emotional craving for motherhood. Remember, in the wild, not all the females of the pack breed. It is only the alpha male and female who produce the little ones. The submissive females are all eliminated by a disease called pyometra (pus in the uterus). Sterilisation in the female is a permanent procedure, involving the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Studies have shown that sterilising a female dog before her first heat cycle (at around five months age) reduces the chances of mammary tumours (breast cancer) drastically, later in life.

Neutering (sterilisation) of young male dogs at around the age of five months reduces hormone induced aggression. Whole (unsterilised) males are prone to perineal hernias and prostatomegaly (prostatic enlargement) in later life. The sterilisation procedure does not affect their territorial behaviour – they will still continue to guard their home.

However, you will be gifting them a longer and healthier life.

10 First aid: Puppies attract trouble. They sniff, chew and lick in an attempt to explore their rapidly expanding world. Puppy proofing your house is definitely a good idea. But accidents do happen. There are times when the symptoms are overt – like a wound or vomiting. However, many people do not know whether their puppy has fever. Therefore it is essential that pet parents learn a few ‘first aid’ techniques like how to clean and dress a wound, how to check your pet’s temperature, how to administer oral medication to your puppy, etc.

A puppy is a wonderful new addition to you family. Let’s make it a beautiful experience for all involved.

(Dr Kadambari Venkatraman is a self confessed cynophiliac. She shares her home with two dogs and a number of other transient boarders she fosters. She has a Masters in Veterinary Surgery and Radiology and currently works with Animal Care Clinic in Hyderabad as a Consultant Veterinary Surgeon).

6 easy steps to make toothbrushing fun

By the time they are three years old, 80 percent of dogs show signs of gum disease, caused by a build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is a great way to prevent this problem and help his teeth and gums stay healthy and it can be an enjoyable reward for your dog.

Small breeds in particular are more susceptible to gum disease as they live longer so there is more time for disease to take hold and they have the same number of teeth crowded into a smaller jaw. You need to introduce your dog to toothbrushing very gradually, ensuring that he learns to really enjoy the experience. It is essential to remember to praise and reward your dog for any positive responses. Choose a suitable time and place to carry out this training, for example, when you and your dog have returned from a walk or playing and he has had the chance to release some energy. A quite area that is free from distractions is best.

The necessities

  • Dog toothpaste (never use human toothpaste as this can upset your dog’s stomach).
  • Clean hands and short nails (this is essential for the safety of your dog).
  • A ‘finger’ toothbrush.
  • A pet toothbrush (soft bristles, do not use firm bristles as this can cause damage to the gum tissue).
  • Water.
  • A quiet area, with little or no distractions.
  • Patience!

Steps to introduce toothbrushing

Each of the following stages should last for no longer than five minutes and should be repeated on five separate days before moving on to the next stage. If your dog appears unhappy with any stage then return to the previous stage until he is ok.

Stage 1

The first stage is to introduce your dog to the taste of the toothpaste so that he starts to look forward to his toothbrushing sessions. Wash your hands and smear a small amount of toothpaste on to your index finger. Allow the dog to lick the toothpaste from your finger. Repeat this process for a few minutes rewarding your dog for licking the toothpaste.

Stage 2

The next stage is to get your dog used to having has mouth handled and the feel of something in his mouth. Smear your index finger with toothpaste and then gently slide it into your dog’s mouth letting it glide over the surface of the teeth and gums. Only go as far into the mouth as your dog is comfortable. Re-apply toothpaste to your finger and repeat this process for approx 6- 8 times. Remember to praise and reward your dog for any positive responses. With your other hand start to gently touch your dog’s muzzle and nose, bridging the nose with your hand ensuring your fingers and hand do not interfere with your dog’s eyes. Gently lift your dog’s lips whilst your finger is in the dog’s mouth. Repeat this for the remainder of the session.

Stage 3

Place the finger brush on to your index finger, wet it with water and smear some toothpaste onto the bristles. Let your dog lick the toothpaste from the bristles. This will feel different to him so repeat this a few times allowing him to get used to the feeling. When he is happy to do this, re-apply toothpaste to the bristles and gently slide your finger into your dog’s mouth and allow it to glide over the teeth and gums. With your other hand, bridge your dog’s nose and lift the lips as you slide the finger brush over the teeth and gums. Only go as far as your dog is comfortable and happy and remember to praise all positive responses. Remember to always end the session on a good note.

Stage 4

Wet your dog’s toothbrush with water and smear the bristles with toothpaste and then allow your dog to lick the toothpaste from the bristles to let them get the feel of the bristles. Put some more toothpaste on the brush, bridge your dog’s nose and, lifting the lips, start to gently brush his canines, using an up and downward motion; start with the toothbrush angled towards the gum line and move the brush away from the gum to the tip of the tooth. Finish the session with the finger brush and toothpaste exploring all areas of the teeth and gums.

Stage 5

Your dog should now be happy with having his canines brushed with the toothbrush. You can now move on to cleaning his other teeth. Prepare his toothbrush and paste and start by brushing his canines, as before, using an up and down motion. Slowly move along to the teeth behind the canines using a circular motion, (remember to slightly angle the bristles towards the gum line), and slowly proceed to the back of the mouth. Only go as far as your dog is comfortable and happy with – remember this should be an enjoyable activity for your dog. Concentrate on the top teeth at first and work along both sides of the mouth in turn. When your dog is happy with his top teeth being brushed, start to brush along the bottom row behind the canines, moving towards the back of the mouth (take your time as it is usually more difficult to brush the lower teeth – this is the part of the jaw that moves!).

Stage 6

Providing your dog is happy with having the rest of his teeth brushed you can start to brush his front teeth. Prepare his toothbrush and paste and start by brushing the canines and then move along the teeth behind on both sides of the mouth in turn, brushing top and bottom teeth. Now for the front teeth – with your other hand, carefully bridge your dog’s nose placing your middle finger across the top of the nose. Place your index finger under his nose, ensuring you do not block his nostrils. Place your thumb on the top of your dog’s bottom lip and gently part the lips with your index finger and thumb. This should reveal the front teeth. Gently brush the front teeth using an up and down motion (as for the canines). This may feel quite strange to your dog so you may need to repeat parting the lips a few times before using the toothbrush. Gradually build up the amount of time spent brushing.

When you have repeated Stage 6 several times you should be able to confidently brush your dog’s teeth every day. Remember this should always be an enjoyable experience for your dog.

From India to EU… making pet travel easy

Here are the prerequisites for transport of dogs from India to the EU (Germany, Austria).

5-6 months before departure

Veterinarian: Identify an authorised veterinarian in India who has experience with dogs travelling overseas. He should have microchips and a blood-serum-centrifuge at the clinic as well as a connection to EU-laboratories and a reliable courier company.

4 months before departure

Microchip + blood test: Minimum three months before the departure and minimum 30 days afterComplete Care vaccination, blood sample of the dog needs to be taken for a serological test. “This serological test for rabies has to be carried out as follows: a neutralising antibody titration at least equal to 0.5 IU/ml carried out on a sample taken by an authorised veterinarian at least 30 days after vaccination and three months before being moved. The titration has to be carried out in an EU-approved laboratory.” (Web source: Government of Austria: Entry and re-entry of dogs, cats, ferrets and other pets into Austria when travelling from third countries)

The blood-serum must be sent via courier (recommended: FedEx; if necessary special permissions for import of blood-samples into the EU for laboratory-tests are done by the courier company). The serum should be packed in ice immediately by the veterinarian, who then informs the courier company right away. During the transport of the serum from the Indian vet-clinic to the EU-laboratory the cold chain needs to be stable. Once at the EU-approved laboratory in the EU, the rules and regulations are the same for Austria and Germany as well as for many other EU-countries. However, check for exceptions like Finland, Malta, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Each animal has to be identified by a clearly readable microchip. The microchip number has to be identical with the number used on all forms.

2-3 months before departure

Airlines: Check the updated rules and regulations for pet travel on the website of the airlines.

  • Call before your booking to check if space is available on the plane in the cargo hold. Upto eight kg (container size up to 55x40x23 cm) the pet can travel in the cabin.
  • Book your flight tickets to the EU. Your pets must be on the same plane.
  • Register your dog(s) via phone with the airline using your booking code.
  • Purchase a flight-transport-container for your dog(s). The dog must be able to comfortably lie down and stand up in the container. Some airlines also provide a transport container. However, if you have your own, the dog can get used to it before travel. Transport containers are available at pet shops.

14 days before departure

EU-forms: The authorised veterinarian needs to examine the dog(s) maximum 14 days before departure and fill in the necessary forms: “Veterinary certificate for domestic dogs, cats and ferrets entering the European community for non-commercial movements (Regulation (EC)No 998/2003)”

48 hours before departure

Indian quarantine certificate: The last certificate needs to be obtained maximum 48 hours before departure from the Indian Animal Quarantine and Certification Service Station.

Approximate expenses: costs (costs can vary)

  • Microchip + Blood sample + Service charge at the vet: 4,500 INR
  • Courier (FedEx) transport of serum from India to EU: 2,000 INR
  • EU-Laboratory Fee for Test + Certificate to be paid directly to the Lab;
    35 Euro – 75 Euro depending on the Lab (2,300) 5,000 INR
  • Flight transport: depending on the Airline; New regulations from 1st June 2011 at Austrian Airlines: Price per transport container (not weight of dog as before: 30 Euro/kg), depending on the size of container; e.g. container: 80x55x55cm (Medium size) = 150 Euro or 9,800 INR
  • Transport Container (M size) (5,500) 6,500 INR
    Sum of all costs per dog approximately is (425 Euro) 27,800 INRImportant forms, regulations and addresses: links + contacts
  • Government of Austria: “Entry and re-entry of dogs, cats, ferrets and other pets into
    Austria when travelling from third countries”
  • List of important documents (Movement of Pets) Information and specimen certificate:
  • Recommended EU approved Laboratories:
    AUSTRIA: AGES Institut für veterinärmedizinische Untersuchungen, Robert Koch Gasse 17,
    A2340 Mödling, Austria, Fr. Dr. Wodak, ph: 0043(0)50555-38230,;, Test done every month; Results available after 1-2 weeks;
    Costs: 57 to 70 Euro GERMANY: Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen/ Diagnostic Laboratory
    Institute of Virology Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Frankfurter Str. 107, D-35392 Giessen, Germany, Fr. Dr. Schichowski, ph: 0049(0)6419938351-63,, web:; Tests done 3x per week. Results available after 3 days. Costs: 35 to 45 Euro
  • List of EU-approved laboratories for serological rabies tests:
  • Recommended Vet: Dr Chaggars Dog & Cats Clinic, D-150 Saket, New Delhi-110017,
    Ph: 011-26963525, 011-26515990, 011-26564087, 011-26962774, 09810089089, Email:
  • Animal Quarantine and Certification Service Station:
    Dr Vijay Kumar, Quarantine Officer (SR), Animal Quarantine and Certification Service Station, Kapashera,
    New Delhi – 110 037, Tel: 011-2506 3272, Fax: 011-2506 0647
  • Recommended Airlines: Lufthansa: (Transport of Animals), Ph:+49-1 80-5747100 Austrian Airlines: (Transport of Animals), Ph: +43 (0)5 1766 1001

(All information has been carefully collected by the author through interviews with various veterinaries in New Delhi, pet-parents who travelled overseas from India and through research on the internet. Some of the regulations might change very fast. Therefore please check all sources relevant for your pet and country of destination before departure).

Pet grooming made easy

Grooming provides bonding time along with ensuring that you’ll keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy and be aware of any subtle changes in condition.

Start early

The first step in home grooming is to teach the dog to accept the attention. Start as early as possible and make this interaction an enjoyable experience for your lil’ darling.


A basic home grooming kit for a long-coated dog should include a soft wire slicker brush, a comb that has both fine and coarse teeth, a universal brush and mat comb for dealing with tangles. A kit for medium-coated or short-coated dogs should include a slicker brush or flexible-pin brush. Bony dogs should be brushed with a soft brush or one with blunt bristles. Feathery hairs on the legs, ears, and tail should be combed. A nubby glove or coarse rag is suitable for grooming faces and for stimulating the skin and conditioning the coat on short-coated dogs.


Dogs don’t need frequent baths as it can dry the natural oils in canine skin and lead to constant scratching, which in turn can lead to bacterial infections and oozing hot spots. Tips for bathing your loving dog :

  • Before bathing, clear all tangles from his coat.
  • Teach him to stand in the tub, then add warm or tepid water.
  • Soak him to the skin, lather, then rinse thoroughly.
  • Take care to keep water and soap out of his eyes and ears and clean his face and the insides of his ears with a sponge.

Daily examination Check your canine thoroughly to make sure he has no cuts, sores, fleas, rashes, bumps or ticks in his coat or dirt in his ears. Remove fleas with a fine-toothed comb and drop them into a container of soapy water. Remove embedded ticks with tweezers or protected fingers and drop them in a vial of alcohol. Carefully remove vegetative matter such as grass awns, seed casings, or thorny twigs with fingers or comb.

Be prepared for mats

Dogs should be combed frequently and completely to prevent kinks and knots caused by intertwining of hairs or by dirt, grit, or vegetative matter in the coat. Mats can pull tender skin and cause pain and lead to hot spots or wounds to irritated skin and eventual infection, general skin outbreaks, or fungus or insect invasion.

When grooming a dog with a tangled coat, work gently to avoid irritating the skin. Comb the outside of the tangle, gently progressing towards the skin, just as you would comb a child’s snarled tresses. If the coat is severely tangled or matted, work in short sessions and praise the dog frequently for accepting sometimes irritating or painful combing. Or consider taking the pooch to a professional. ­­


Shedding can take anywhere from three weeks to two months. Regular grooming can help control clouds of hair that scurry into corners and under furniture and encourage growth of new coat. Shedding is controlled by hormonal changes that are tied to photoperiod (day length) and is influenced by level of nutrition and general state of health. In addition to natural biennial shedding, a dog may drop his coat after surgery, X-rays under anesthesia, and whelping puppies.


Healthy skin is certainly a consideration for a well-groomed dog, and healthy skin begins with a good diet.

Grooming is essential for healthy skin, not only for keeping him clean, but for making the owner aware of any problems that may be developing. Flea allergies can cause severe skin problems, so daily examination of the dog during flea season is a must. Treat the house for fleas as well.

Contact allergies can also cause skin to break out. Irritated skin leads to scratching, which can open the skin to staphylococcus infections. Skin irritations and infections can crop up overnight, so keep a close eye on the situation.


All dogs should have their ears checked periodically. Dogs with droopy ears are especially susceptible to fungus and bacterial infections and should be checked at least weekly. Veterinarians can prescribe cleaning agents for ears to dry them out. Infected ears can also lead to further complications. Not only is the dog painfully uncomfortable, he may cause a hematoma by breaking a blood vessel while shaking his head in response to the discomfort.


Dogs should have their toenails cut every two to three weeks. Dog nails have a quick that can be seen as a darkening of light-colored nails but is invisible on dark nails. The quick has a nerve and blood supply; nicking the quick not only hurts the dog, it causes profuse bleeding, or have the vet or groomer do the job.

Include an examination of the dog’s feet into a grooming session to make sure there is nothing stuck between the pads. Seeds from some grasses can stab into the pad, pebbles can get stuck, chemicals used on lawns can burn, and fungus can cause irritation, which leads to licking, which can eventually lead to hot spots and infection. To pamper your pooch, seek the help of a professional groomer.

(Dr. Gandhi Narendra graduated from Punjab University in 1990. He can be contacted at : 9811057296, 9811897903.)

Ringcraft Made Easy

A dog show is not exactly a comparison of one dog to another. Several factors are considered while judging – physical appearance, temperament, character, coupled with the fitness and willingness to perform. As everyone will agree, proper show handling can enhance the chances of winning with our dogs at shows. Here are some techniques, which could be beneficial to upcoming new exhibitors and people interested in dog handling. When inside the judging ring, the judge expects that the exhibitor would be aware about performing certain exercises. The judge is at liberty to ask exhibitor to perform so that he may be able to assess the merits and demerits of the dog. Amongst the several exercises the judge may ask the exhibitor to perform, here are the two most important ones:

The show stand presentations

There are perhaps as many show stand positions as one may conceive, positions vary from handler to handler and exhibit to exhibit. The best position is the one that is best suited to both the exhibit and the exhibitor – and the position in which the dog seems to be most comfortable. Never mind the handler as here the exhibit is more important, so think about him. Different breeds call for different presentation techniques. The job of the handler is to bring out the very best points in the exhibits. We learn from our own dogs that different show stand positions are necessary even within the dogs of the same breed. Just like us, the temperament and character of each dog is different. Some dogs when made to stand facing another dog appear more alert. You must of course keep in mind that not all judges will permit you to use this position.

The show movements

After the presentation in stand, the judge will request the handler to walk away and towards so that the straightness of the legs in movement can be seen. Here is a list of a few movements: The triangle: An exhibit will be requested to move directly away from the judge in a straight line, towards the far corner of the ring; then across the ring, then back to the judge – in a diagonal line; stopping approximately about 5 feet in front of the judge. (Figure i)

The straight and back: As the name suggests, this exercise requests that an exhibit moves directly away from the judge, making a sharp “U” turn and returning to the judge in almost straight line; again stopping approximately 5 feet away from the judge. (Figure ii)

The diagonal: It is similar to straight and back exercise, with the only difference that the exhibit is requested to move diagonally across the ring and back to the judge. (Figure iii)

The circle: In moving your dog in a circle, always remember that your dog is to be always held on your left, towards the inside of the ring and nearest to the judge; never away from the judge. (Figure iv)

Turnaround (U-turn): There are two variations in turning an exhibit around in ‘Triangle,’ ‘The straight and back’ and ‘Diagonal exercises’. These include the ‘Outer turn’ and ‘Inside turn.’

In the ‘Outer turn,’ the handler lets his dog gait on the outer “semi-circle”, pivoting the dog from the inside. The leash is to be lengthened as the dog starts on his own and is quickly but not abruptly retrieved when the dog completes his turn. This method is suggested for larger breeds, as the inside turn will tend to “break” the rhythm of his stride, and thus will interfere with his movement. (Figure v)

The ‘Inside turn’ method is exactly opposite of the outer turn; where instead of the dog taking the “walk around,” the handler walks in the outer semi-circle, and the dog becomes the pivot; but certainly not a stationary one. This method is ideal for smaller breeds who tend to lag behind the handler, or breeds with short gait. Using this method, the handler quickens his pace on the turn, but without disrupting the gait of the dog. It is not necessary to extend the length of the leash when doing this turn, but the handler would require quickening his pace. (Figure vi)

It is seen that most exhibitors pay very little attention to these basics, in moving their dogs in the ring and pay a heavy price for their lack of interest. Sometimes, handlers stop their dogs “DEAD” on the tracks in order to make abrupt and clumsy turns.

(Partha Sekhar Chatterjee has been judging All Breeds Dogs at Championship level in India for over 20 years. He has also been an International Judge for 15 years. He can be contacted at 033-23505877, 9830795502.)