Caution of common errors made by pet parents

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.

Dr. Geeta Sharma

Dr. Geeta Sharma

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).

Tips for working pet parents

You are working… should this be the reason to deter you from being blessed with the love and companionship of a pooch? No! Here’s how you can have a mutually satisfying, rewarding relationship with your pooch and how he can adjust in the 9 to 5 groove.
  • Right reason: Adopt for the right reasons. Do not adopt if you only find the Vodafone Pug cute Complete Carebecause a pup becomes a family member and requires time, attention and love.
  • Warm welcome: Take consent of all family members. All members should be willing to welcome your new bundle of joy.
  • Right breed: Consult a veterinarian/breeder for the right breed for you. Ensure you have time and commitment to take care of health, training, grooming, exercise needs and most importantly spending quality time with your canine baby. Do keep into account the energy level and requirement of the breed with your activity levels.
  • Basic training: Train your pooch from Day 1. A well-behaved trained dog is a pleasure to be around.
  • Age matters: A two months old puppy needs constant care in terms of food, cuddles and housetraining in comparison to a pup who is older. If you have somebody at home who can take care of the pup, will be great.
  • No leash, no collar please: Please do not tie your dog or leave him in the garden/garage/guard room/balcony at home. Let him be free and comfortable in your home with you.
  • Attending nature’s call: Before you leave for work and as soon as you are back, first attend to your dog specially his exercise and nature’s call needs. If you have help at home – who can do it, walk him will be nice. You can also keep newspapers in a shallow pan where he can relieve himself. This is important because this way, even if the pooch uses this space for relieving himself once in a while, your house would not be dirty.
  • Dog proof his space: In order to keep your dog safe and also to ensure he does not hurt himself in separation anxiety, remove harmful things from his space. Give him things he would need – his comfortable bed, his toys, and of course plenty of clean drinking water and his regular food.
  • Take help: If possible, you can have a help or a walker who can take your pooch out for his walk, when you are away. Ensure he is a reliable person and he takes him out on a leash.
  • Spend quality time: Whenever you are at home, try to spend good quality time with him. Train him, play with him, groom him, take him out for a walk … do what two of you like!
  • Make him comfortable: Depending on the weather ensure the pooch is comfortable, also if the pooch is at home alone – leaving the radio on for him is a great way.
  • Toys: Toys to stimulate him and keep him busy are good. You could buy a Kong which can be filled with yummy treats to keep his boredom at bay.

Apathy of pet parents

While pet ownership has given way to the concept of pet parenting, there are still a few people who have not imbibed this new concept and cases of 001neglect and abandonment of pets still exists. The recent example being that of a 6-year-old Rani, a Boxer in Mumbai, who died due to her parents’ negligence. Rani was rescued by In Defence of Animals (IDA) from her house. Her condition was pathetic – she was covered all over by maggots and totally dehydrated. She was a typical case of prolonged negligence and undernourishment. IDA tried its best to revive her and find a new home for her, but Rani left for her heavenly abode…leaving us wondering how cruel life can be to man’s best friend. And Rani suffered just because her parents had no time for her. Very sad indeed!

Time and again, we have been stressing in our magazine that one should adopt a pet only if one is ready for the care and commitment it requires to raise him. Pets are like our children and need continuous love and care. They depend on us for all their needs and we simply can’t shrug off the responsibility, once we bring a pet home.

Let us all pledge this Christmas that we will take good care of our pets and would not let any pet suffer due to parent’s passivity. In case you notice a neighbour ill-treating his pet, speak to him. If he does not relents, report to your nearest animal welfare organisation and help the pet end his miseries. Remember, a pet needs a loving and tender home, not just a shelter. Sparkle is giving a loud woof of approval and prays that people are more responsible in their commitment and care towards their furry angels.