Be Cautious with Collars: Learn to make an informed choice!

The collar plays a very important role in your pet’s life. It is important to choose the correct collar for your pet according to his size and use because a wrong collar will not solve the purpose and will make the pet feel very uncomfortable and can even injure him.

There are many styles of collars and harnesses available at pet stores. Choosing the right collar/ harness is one of the most important decisions you could make for your dog and would depend on your dog’s size and disposition, the training or medical condition, says Dr Natasha Couto. Be cautious Common Collars According to Dr Natasha, collars should be snug with enough room to fit two fingers between your dog’s neck and his collar. It should not be loose enough to slip over the pet’s head which could result in accidents. They should not be fit too tight either to restrict breathing or cause coughing. Collar can be a great tool since it allows to keep your dog safely by your side. Collars are good for easy going happy go lucky disciplined dogs without obedience problems. Amrut S Hiranya says, “Flat collar is considered to be the most common collar designed with a plastic clip or a buckle. Such design is convenient to slip on and off. However, despite the fact that this type of collar retains size, it can become hazard to the pooch since pooches always play rough in mouthy manner and it may eventually result in their mouths catching in the collars of other doggy playmates which will cause panic among them.” Buckle Collars: Poorvi Anthony mentions that buckle collars are very common and have a buckle to lock. These collars are made of nylon, cotton or leather and are round or flat in shape. Buckle Collars can be adjusted according to the neck size of the pet. Quick Release Collars: “These are collars with a plastic closure. They simply snap on and off the dog quickly. In case your pooch gets stuck somewhere, he can easily break loose. These collars are also adjustable and also do not tighten when fastened,” adds Poorvi.  Martingale Collar “Martingale Collars are Loop Collars which are generally half collars and half chain. They are also known as half Choke Chains. These types of collars are like Flat Collars but they tighten when the dog pulls. A Martingale Collar has two loops; the smaller is the ‘control loop’ that tightens the larger loop when pulled to prevent dogs from slipping out of the collar,” tells Poorvi. Harness Dr Natasha explains that Harnesses are those which go around the neck and around the shoulders and behind the front legs and especially recommended for dogs who have upper respiratory diseases or diseases of the trachea such as collapsed trachea and also recommended in case of brachiocephalic breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Pekingese since they choke easily on collars and collapse. Harness can be a good choice for small dogs on whom collars don’t fit properly. “Harnesses are also very popular among pet parents as the force is on the body instead of the neck. They are generally made of nylon or leather. Harnesses are more popular as they keep a strong grip on the dog and there are no chances of choking the dog,” says Poorvi. She adds that there are various types of harnesses available, for example, the Standard Harness in which the harness slips in from the head Harmful Effects of Using a wrong collar! and it is locked around his body. The leash can be attached on  top of the harness. Step in harness which is very easy to make him wear. The strap comes in between the front two legs and it is locked on the back and leash can be attached on top. The built in harness has inbuilt leaCollar Caresh to keep strong hold on the dog while he pulls. Preeti Agrawal tells, “If your furry baby loves to pull it is a must to make him wear a harness. Harness helps you to take full control of their body while you walk with them. So, it is ideal for over-enthusiastic dogs who love tugging on their leash.” Gentle Leader Invented by RK Anderson, a veterinarian and behaviourist, Gentle Leader is a device that fits around a dog’s muzzle and neck. It enables the person walking his dog to ‘gently lead’ the pet, while avoiding incessant pulling and choking. “A Gentle Leader has two straps or loops. The nose strap is slid over the dog’s nose and accommodated over the base of the muzzle. The neck strap on the other hand goes around the dog’s neck. These straps are appropriately adjusted to create a snug fit of the neck strap high on the neck, at the base of the skull. The center ring (that is common to both straps) is supposed to be placed just above the dog’s Adam’s apple. It is important that the neck strap fits snuggly and doesn’t allow more than a finger’s gap between the strap and the dog’s neck. The dog’s leash attaches to the control ring,” says Dr Rohil Chopra.    The Perfect fit! According to Amrut S Hiranya, Gentle Leader is not a training device. It is a walking device.  He adds, “The dog is in control as long as he is being walked on the Gentle Leader and is likely to go back to his old ways when a regular collar or harness is used. One may end up with a ‘collar-smart’ dog who needs to be walked with a gentle leader each time. It is meant to be used for short period of time and is not advisable that it be left on the entire day. Many pet parents report that their dogs experience difficulty in chewing and barking when on the gentle lead.  Experience of dog behaviourists and trainers suggests that it’s not as effective in large breed dogs vis-a-vis the small and medium breeds.” Choke Chain According to Dr Natasha, “Some people insist on Choke Chain which is unethical and often misused. Properly fitted Choke Chains should sit up right behind a dog’s ears high on his neck. When pulled too hard the chain squeezes at neck momentarily constricting breathing which is obviously uncomfortable and cruel. Choke Chains should never be used on puppies or brachiocephalic breeds.” Poorvi adds “Chain Slip Collars or Choke Chains are chains with rings at both the ends. It forms a loop around the dog’s neck. It works in two ways – the live ring and the dead ring. When the leash is attached to the live ring and the dog pulls the chain, it becomes tighter and it loosens when tension is released. When the leash is attached to the dead ring, the collar does not tighten.” Amrut says that Choke Chain is traditionally used to give a sharp jerk which is strong enough to stop the dog from  what he is doing. Pet parents should keep in mind that yanking on neck a chain can result in health issues. Pinch Collar As per Amrut, Pinch Collars give less pressure on the neck of the dog when we compared it to the Choke Chain. Pinch Collar has greater surface area but pet parents should be equally careful because it has the same issues of Choke Chain. While choosing a collar, always ensure your dog’s health and happiness. It is advisable NOT to use any collar which harms your dog. Training should always be positive. A dog who’s healthy and happy is a partner for a life time.   (Inputs from Natasha Couto, Cuddle Pet Shop & Clinic, Mumbai; Poorvi Anthony, JUST DOGS, Ahmedabad; Dr Suranjan Sarkar, Complete Dog Care, Ranchi; Dr Rohil Chopra, a practicing vet, Bengaluru; Amrut S Hiranya, Dog Guru, Bengaluru; Preeti Agrawal, Petville, Pune; Chenthu Mohan, Jedidiah Kennels, Chennai; and Matthew C Ivey, HABER•DOG•DASHER, Chicago).

6 habits to learn from the furry guru!

New Year is a time to look back at all the good things in our life and of course plan for the next year. Our pooches make our life beautiful…there’s never a dull moment when they are around. So, this New Year, let’s recollect the good habits we learn from them.

Sridevi with Bruno

Sridevi with Bruno

My pet dog Bruno (a Beagle), who is now five years old, has been with us since he was just 32days old. The five years of life that we have lived with him are undoubtedly the most amazing years ever for us. A lot is always said about the unique and unmatchable companionship that a dog extends to a human’s life. With my five years of experience with my dog, what I wonder apart from being a great companion, how excellent teacher is this living being.

1. Forever young
It is said that you grow younger if you have a dog. The 30-40 minutes’ walk for Bruno, both in the morning and evening is compulsory for Bruno. This has made us more disciplined; he wakes us up in the morning for his walk. If one of us (me and my husband) is already awake, he would go and wake the other person up. Unless not possible, we try that both of us go for a walk along with him. That walk time is so relaxing and playful for us also, we get the fresh air in the morning and exercise in the evening, and we have some fruitful discussions over the walk which gets missed out during the usual times, due to our work schedules mostly. Besides, it keeps us physically fit and younger.

2. Tolerance
We are a nuclear family and both my husband and I go out for our respective works in the morning and come back in the evening like a usual office day.
Bruno is alone at home throughout the day. He has got used to the fact that he has to stay alone at home; I think he somehow knows our routine and the fact that we are going to come back in the evening. The amount of tolerance he shows in understanding us and adapting to our routine is commendable.

3. Unconditional love
The best instance when we get to know about our Bruno’s unconditional love is when we get home from office. One evening, my husband called me from office that he would get late and I didn’t like it since we had planned for the evening much earlier. Bruno waited at the door for more than three hours for my husband and finally when he came home, Bruno pounced on him with much more enthusiasm than usual and it was a grand welcome that brought a BIG smile on my husband’s face. Needless to say, my response was not that happy.
Bruno can sense our emotions like an expert. He can sense when we are happy, angry or sad. At these times he is constantly around us to check if we are fine and communicates his love in a million ways. He will not sleep until we sleep, if we are working late, he will sit with us and not go to sleep in the bedroom.
I love the way he sits outside the kitchen as if he has been waiting for me to make food for him for long. And finally when I give him the food, he finishes it and cleans the entire bowl nicely in the blink of an eye. That very moment is an enormously precious one for me.

4. Pass smiles around
When I walk around with Bruno, I see a lot of people (kids and elders) smiling looking at him, some come closer to pat him; some adore him from a distance. The kids adore him. This 5-10 minutes of joy that he passes into those kids’ lives and those 2-3 seconds of hearty smiles that he brings in people who adore him from their respective places, is unmatchable. There is an unexplainable connection between kids and dogs.

5. patience
When Bruno was small, he used to pounce on me when he knew I was giving him food and had developed a tendency to snatch the food item from my hands. I taught him to sit down if he wants something. It took five minutes for me to teach him ‘to sit’ and this learning he has himself extended. He just sits down if he wants anything, he will just sit and stare at us for all his wants.
The amount of patience he shows is remarkable. Under circumstances especially not in our control, we tend to lose our patience but he has taught me to keep cool and be patient to see things going right ultimately.

6. Be a child
A dog is after all a child who never grows up; you become a child with the dog and remain a child till he is there with you as a companion!
There may be many many more things which we learn from our pooches everyday…let’s all bask in their love and companionship all the year round. Happy New Year!

Learn all about Paw Protection

A dog’s paws are very sturdy but they still need some tender love and care! Here are a few cares to keep your pooch’s paws healthy.

Dog Grooming

Lokashi with Copper

Paws are a very essential part of a dog’s body as dogs are digitigrade animals, this means that the weight bearing part of their limbs is their paws. The paw consists of the foot pad or paw pad and nails or claws. The paw pads act as an insulator from extremely cold weather, they act as a cushion and prevent the joints and bones from shock as they walk, and also protect the deep tissues within the paw. The paw pad is the toughest region of canine skin and provides friction as the dog walks. Dogs are known to perspire through their paw pads. They also have scent glands located at the bottom of their feet so they can be sensed by other dogs.  The claws or nails help the dog to dig and provide stability to the feet. Dogs are constantly running, jumping, walking and playing hence their paws are prone to damage, infection and injuries.
Here are a few measures to ensure you keep your pooches’ paws protected and well-care:
Start early: A lot of dogs are very sensitive when it comes to touching their paws or cutting their nails. It is essential to de-sensitise the paws from the beginning to ensure that they can be well taken care of.
Nail care: It is very important to take proper care of your dog’s nails. Always ensure they are properly trimmed and filed. Do not forget to attend to the dew claw. A dew claw is the 5th digit on a dog’s foot, which does not come in contact with the ground. It is advisable to get the nails trimmed from a professional, as over cutting may lead the quick (bundle of nerve and blood vessel in the nail) to rupture and make the nail bleed.
Hair in and around the paw: It is essential to trim the hair from a dog’s paw pad. While they walk, all the dirt collects in the under pad hair and causes unwanted matting of the hair. Also ticks collect and cause discomfort to the dog. Once the extra hair is trimmed, especially for long haired breeds, it is easy to keep the paw pad clean and pest and matt free.
Moisturise: On a weekly basis ensure you moisturisze your pet’s foot pad in order to repair and restore vitality to foot pads exposed to snow, ice, rough terrains and heat.  Many pet foot care balms are available. Do not use human products on your pets.
Bathing tips: While bathing your dog, thoroughly wash the feet, between the digits and between the under pad and digits as well. On completion of the bath, dry the paw completely, and if needed, apply a small quantity of antiseptic powder to keep them infection and bacteria free.
Winter care: The paw pad does act as an insulator, but extremely cold weather and snow can cause the paw pad to crack. To avoid the bitter cold from getting to your dogs paws, get them habituated to booties in the cold.
Summer care: During the summer, the ground gets very hot. Walking your dog on this hot ground can cause the paw pads to get burnt. The dog may suffer severe or minor burns, if so, do consult a vet. To avoid this, avoid walking your pet during the afternoon and walk them during cooler times in the day. Also wash their feet with cool water once they return from a walk and dry them.
Monsoon care: A lot of dogs love playing in the rain; do not stop them, just take a little extra care to ensure their paws stay healthy. Make sure you thoroughly wash their paws once they return from the rain and dry them thoroughly. Don’t forget to clean between the toes as dirt and bacteria lodge themselves in the toe web. Dampness between the toes can cause soreness and infection, hence ensure they are always dry. Rubber booties can be used to prevent dampness in the feet.
Foot pad injuries: Rough concrete surfaces can cause cuts, abrasions, ulcers to the paw pad, resulting in limping, excessive licking, bleeding and soreness. A mild injury can be treated at home by gently rinsing the wound and applying an antiseptic after drying.
Else, consult a vet immediately before it becomes worse.
By following these simple instructions you can keep your pet’s paws healthy and clean, hence ensuring your dog’s well being.
(Lokashi Aggarwal is a certified pet groomer who runs Pawfect – The Pet Salon and Spa in Mumbai).