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Female vs Male : Is love gender specific?

What do you look for when you decide to bring home a pet? Probably, unconditional love, affection, Puppy Carecompanionship and experiences you would cherish all your life….! Are all these qualities gender-specific? No, then why do people prefer male dogs as against females? This has been going on for ages…when it comes to breeding of dogs, then female pups are adopted, else males are the first choice. Why?

Most times, pet parents are reluctant to adopt a dog, just because she is a female. Dr Freya Javeri says, “Most people in India prefer to adopt male dogs due to various misconceptions. This is more pronounced in certain states.” Similar views are expressed by Dr Milind Hatekar, “In fact gender is a taboo in pet adoption; pet parents always tend to adopt a male since they feel that they are better and easier to maintain. Today, in our practice, we get 10 males to 1 female which clearly shows that males are more preferred pets. But the fact is it is a wrong mentality, which definitely needs to be changed.”

What thought comes to your mind when you wish to adopt a pet? For most, adopting a male pooch is the basic funda… unless you wish to breed. Why? Are male tailwaggers better than their female counterparts? Guess not… let’s see what our vets
and breeders need to say about this issue.

Vishwa, a reputable breeder quips in, “It depends on the reason why a person wants to buy a dog. If it’s just to have company at home, then everyone buys a male pup. They only opt for a female pup, if they wish to breed. Generally male pups are costlier than female pups as the demand for male pups are more than female pups. But good bloodline female pups are costlier as the pups can get into dog shows.”

What the notions are?

Srikant of Pets and Pet Needs shares that pet parents tell him that they do not want female pups as they come in heat and it is difficult to manage her as they will dirty the place. Besides, the tension of stray dogs causing trouble cannot be ruled out as well. He also adds one needs to devote time, effort and money to take care of a pregnant dog and it is a big responsibility to find loving homes for the pups.

The facts…

In fact, these problems are very superficial. “Education is must for all pet parents if they are first time pet parents, it improves the bond between the pet and removes taboos heard which are basically wrong information gathered. Proper management and advice from their veterinarians can help pet parents deal with heat cycles,” tells Dr Hatekar.

“Besides, the normal cycle of female dogs comes once in six months, which may last 18 to 20 days. Females may get pseudo-pregnant sometimes after the heat period is over and they may start lactating during this period,” says Dr Hatekar. But this is hardly an issue. Pet parents can spay their dogs i.e. remove ovaries and uterus if they don’t intend to breed them. “This will stop the biannual cycle and prevent the female from coming in heat. Spaying also reduces the chances of mammary tumours and females become better pets after sterilising,” he adds.

“The female may be spayed (sterilised) after reaching maturity (after one year of age). It is always preferable not to spay or neuter an immature dog. Alternatively, if the pet parent is careful whenever the female comes into season (every 6 months) not to allow her to come in contact with any male dog, they can avoid the risk of unwanted pregnancy,” adds Dr Javeri.

Why adopt a female pup…
Puppy Care
Female dogs are more loving than the males and they are more emotional. “They are as good as males in guarding and they are excellent companions to children in the house. “They can be trained easily since they are more focused,” says Dr Hatekar.

Dr Freya Javeri adds that there are particularly no problems related to female dogs. “In fact females tend to be more affectionate and hence easier to train and better with children than male dogs. They are less likely to become dominant; hence there is a lower risk of dominant aggression in female dogs. Being more affectionate, they are easier to train and very good with young children and elderly family members. They will, however, perform the same duties as a male dog, like guarding the family and home. On the other hand, male dogs need more firm handling in order to discipline them. Male dogs are also more distracted whenever there is a female dog in season in the neighbourhood, which includes stray females, at which time they may try to run out to look for the female (and risk getting hit by cars), may stop eating for a few days, or become difficult to handle,” she shares.

Advice to pet parents…

While, Dr Javeri recommends female pups to pet parents who come to her clinic. “However, most of them still opt for a male dog. But, it is worth mentioning that, pet parents of pure-bred male dogs will always find it difficult to find a mate for their dog because not everyone with a female will want to breed from their dog, leaving a majority of male dogs without being bred throughout life,” she says. Vishwa Chaitanya, student of veterinary from Pondicherry, adds that pet parents who are knowledgeable about dogs may prefer female pups as they are more docile than males and are more obedient when compared to male dogs.

Next time, you are adopting a pet, look for the bundle of joy who steals your heart away… male or female – does it really matter?

(With inputs from Vidya Iyer, Hyderabad; Dr Milind Hatekar, Pune; and Dr Freya Javeri, Ahmedabad)

I have a one-year-old GSD male.. | May June 10

Q: I have a one-year-old GSD male. I would like to know what food should be given to him in summer and if any special care needs to be taken in the hot months. He sometimes isask the expert not very keen on eating food though otherwise his appetite is not much of a problem. I would also like to know certain tips on the overall health of this particular breed. How many times should we bathe him in summer?
– Snigdha, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Heat and heat stress affects skin health and digestive health and in addition to heat stroke, the susceptible pets (puppies, young dogs, aged pets) are prone to develop a number of heat related diseases due to hyperthermia and reduced immune function. Dogs tend to eat less in summer but they spend more energy in an effort to lower the body temperature (e.g., panting). Therefore, a well-balanced nutritionally complete diet like Pedigree (which also contains some natural antioxidants) confers some protection against the effects of heat stress. Feed during cooler part of the day, if possible, or increase frequency of feeding. Make sure that you feed total recommended quantity of food for your pet in 2-3 meals. Remember to give them plenty of water so they don’t become dehydrated in the warm weather. Avoid exercising your pet in the midday heat. It’s extremely dangerous to leave a pet alone in a vehicle/room/outdoors in the sun – even with a window open – as an overheated car/room can have fatal consequences. Your pets can only cool down by panting, so make sure they have access to shade, proper shelter and water when outside. Dogs only need bathing when they are dirty or on the advice of your veterinarian.

Q: My Labrador is 13 years old. He is developing weakness in his hind legs and he has to make an effort to stand up. Our vet suggested a medicine named ‘Care O Pet’ by Cipla. We are giving this tablet every day alongwith Condro and Neuribion forte. Is there any thing else we can do? What is the normal life span for a Labrador? Please advise.
– P K Sengupta, Noida

Dr KG Umesh: Weakness in hind legs of aged pet may result from dysfunction of the nervous system, neuromuscular system, metabolic, cardiovascular or joint problems. Therefore, the cause of such weakness can either be such primary disorder or can result from dysfunction of a number of other systems that result in impaired neuromuscular function. Some common causes include spinal/backbone problems (particularly disk), heart problems, anemia and arthritis. A reasonable work-up for the weakness is required with selected tests to identify underlying cause, considering pet’s age, breed and concurrent clinical signs. This will help your vet to provide appropriate treatment plan based on cause. Physiotherapy and supportive treatment may benefit until cause is identified or when no underlying problem can be identified. The average life span of Labradors in India may range from 10-16 years depending on level of care.

Q: Please advise the care to be taken of my three months old Lhasa Apso pup, also can I feed him curd and fruits? What tonics are supposed to be given for growth and better coat? He has been given rabies vaccination – can I give booster dose after 21 days?
– Dinesh Koti, Nellore

Dr KG Umesh: Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life (Pedigree puppy) and foods which deliver additional health benefits (Pedigree small breed puppy). Just curd or fruits is not adequate for a growing puppy. Please remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort, and expertise. There is no need to feed any tonics/calcium or home diet while he is feeding on a balanced food like Pedigree, except clean fresh water. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. It is recommended to have booster doses for all vaccinations including rabies.

Q: My eight-year-old cross-breed has become very aggressive. He sometimes bites our family members in anger. What can be the reason behind this?
– Raj Saxsena

Dr KG Umesh: The two most common manifestations of aggressive behaviour towards humans are fear biting and dominance-related aggression. Fear biting is most commonly seen in a dog raised without appropriate human contact during the socialization period of growth. Biting is a canine dominance behaviour and is surprisingly, a form of communication to establish standing within the pack. So, if the pack leader (your dog) decides that a member of the pack (you or a family member) is getting out of line, he may bite that person to show them ‘who’s boss.’ Good training plays a crucial role to ensure a happy and successful relationship between you and your dog (reward good behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour), that means everyone being diligent in enforcing basic commands to show your dog who the real leaders of the household are. Some examples – If your dog barks, growls, or ignores you, try to shift his attention to an exercise or a task he knows well. If this doesn’t help, walk away from the dog. While instinct is a powerful determinant, dogs also take cues from an owner’s personality– friendly, secure dogs, for instance, often have calm owners, while dogs who are easily frightened might have anxious owners.

Q: I have a two-year-old GSD named Bebble. She is falling sick frequently, is not eating food and is losing weight. Please advise.
– Anthony Fernandes

Dr KG Umesh: Any chronic or recurring illness requires some basic investigations to find the underlying cause. Please take her to your vet for complete examination and the vet may recommend required lab tests (it may include stool examination, radiograph, tests for liver and pancreas function, etc)

Q: I have a male three-month-old Golden Retriever. He urinates more than 20-30 times, sometimes white in colour and sometimes yellow. He does poop four times or more and its colour is blackish brown. Is his urination normal, do dogs urinate at one place only or move about and urinate at different locations.
– Aroonita Ghosh, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: Puppies are not capable of controlling urination or defecation until eight weeks of age. A young puppy needs to urinate and defecate frequently as he has a very small bladder and bowel. Housetraining a new puppy usually takes 2 to 4 weeks and is accomplished through confinement, a regular schedule of feeding and elimination breaks, and a great deal of praise but no punishment. It is your responsibility to ensure that you take your puppy to the chosen toilet area as frequently as he needs to go, generally as soon as he wakes up, after every meal and at hourly intervals. Whilst he is learning, it is essential that you wait with him, so that you can praise him at the correct time. Young puppies will inevitably have ‘accidents’. It is important to ignore these, and to clean up well so that the smell does not linger, as this may encourage him to repeat the performance on the same spot. It is also possible to train your puppy to urinate and defecate on command.

Q: I have a male Lhasa Apso. Please advice whether a Boxer/Spitz will be a suitable breed with the Apso or do you suggest any other breed so as to avoid clash. Is neutering necessary for keeping two male dogs?
– Ajay Kumar Khanduri, New Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Whatever your reasons you decided to add another dog to the family, just be aware that bringing in a new dog (breed or size does not matter) is a huge change for an older dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. With the puppy in your lap and your older dog on a leash held by someone else, let the older dog sniff, lick and explore the puppy. A couple of minutes is more than enough time for this initial introduction. Remove the puppy from the room, then lavish your older dog with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppy onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along or have mutual understanding of their position/rank in the family. It’s not a good idea to leave your puppy alone with your older dog. There should always be someone there to supervise. Be sure to give old dog lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced’. Neutering may help to minimise some behavioural issues like aggression, etc.