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New Year’s resolutions of a pet parent

The old year, for better or worse, is gone… the New Year has arrived. Here’s our chance to start fresh, to have another shot at success…at glory…at just accomplishing what we resolve to.

We all love our doggies…we pamper them and try to give them the best, but sometimes we forget to take care of their basic needs…we are either too busy or ignorant about some of their requirements.

As a pet parent, here are some of the New Year’s resolutions I would like to take for the love of my pet:

feactures fun and frolic

bruno

  • No matter how much I love my sleep, I will get up in the morning and take Jimmy out for his daily walk.
  • I will be careful not to leave anything around that seems harmless to me but can be harmful to my doggy. In short, I will pet proof my home now.
  • My friend Jimmy is a Pomeranian but there are many facts about him that I still do not know. I will try to read more about the Poms and be a better pet parent (though I think I am a fairly food pet parent!).
  • Even thogh I love to groom my pet, I sometimes just let Jimmy have his way due to dearth of time. But now, I will groom him everyday.
  • Though I never leave Jimmy alone, still I will put an identification tag around his neck, just in case he decides to explore the streets alone.
  • I will teach a new trick to Jimmy, which can be fun for both of us.
  • I will spend atleast one hour of unadulterated fun time with Jimmy.
  • I dread visiting a doctor but still I will take my Jimmy for his regular check-ups to his vet.
  • I will make a resolution not to give him table scraps, which are not good for his health.
  • I will feed a stray animal everyday. After all, they also need our love and care to live in this world…and not to forget, they guide our housing societies in return of nothing.

New Year’s resolutions of Jimmy, my canine friend

  • I’ll remember that the ‘oh so tempting’ dustbin contains things to throw and is not a plaything.
  • Before entering the home, I will shake off rainwater off my coat and clean my paws on the doormat.
  • I will not look at my pet parents with adorable eyes when they are eating that delicious kebab cake.
  • I will not chew the ever-delicious crayons or pens.
  • On a drive, I will not insist on having the car windows rolled down.
  • I will remember not to pull on the leash even if I see my beautiful Jane passing by.
  • I will not run out every time the gate opens (though I would love to!).

Responsible pet parenting

It is often our mistake and not the pet’s problem that results in a misbehaved pet. Watch out for your responsibilities before adopting a pet and behave like a responsible pet parent. The bond between you and your pet will blossom beyond imagination as your pet gives you back much more than what he receives from you. He sees you as your mentor and will follow the path laid by you.

What does pet parenting means? We put a lot of efforts in parenting our children to ensure their desired upbringing. The same is required for our pet to transform them into a healthy, disciplined and cultured one.For this transforma-tion, responsible pet parenting is essential.Why is right pet parenting essential?

Adopting a pet does not ensure that he is going to inherit all the breed characteristics. Exploiting the genetic potential depends on his upbringing, thereby comes the role of pet parenting.

It is to be understood that as per the breed, dogs possess different characters. For e.g., German Shepherd, Rottweiler and Doberman, have a natural instinct to guard. Labradors are docile with good sniffing characters, while Cocker Spaniel and Dachshund are a hyperactive lot and so forth and so on. Since the basic breed characters cannot be changed, it becomes very important to pick a breed with the desired characters. Once a right breed is selected, the role of pet parenting comes into play to exploit the breed characteristics. A misguided or ill trained dog, even of very friendly characteristics, becomes a nuisance at times.

The human-animal bond

Having pets makes you feel good, both physically and mentally. Many medical studies have shown that pet owners have lower stress levels and fewer heart attacks. If you have a dog or cat, you always have someone to come home for and your furry friend will never tell your boss all the horrible things you said after a particularly bad day at the office. It should come as no surprise that researchers have found that petting and talking to a companion animal actually reduces blood pressure.

Many retirement facilities and hospitals bring in pets for visits or have a pet at the facility. Animal assisted therapy is being used for more health issues than ever before. Guide dogs continue to help the blind, but now assistance dogs also help deaf humans, the physically handicapped, and people with epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other afflictions.

Sometimes pet problems are people problems

Many “dog problems” stem from a lack of understanding. Many people approach pet ownership as something akin to owning a car: if it’s broken, take it to be fixed. If it has too many problems, you return it to a dealer or sell it. This “pets-are-disposable” attitude is why so many dogs end up in rescue groups and animal shelters. It’s tragic because almost all problems can be solved with a little patience and understanding. A dog is a dog. He is not a small human, and expecting him to behave like one is unfair. Every pet is an individual and you have to work within the limitations of the animal’s personality. All pets in the household need to learn the rules, but the humans need a few rules too. Your pet loves you and the best thing you can do is to love him in return. Like any family member, you learn to live with a few foibles because the companionship and love you receive is worth it.

Time and patience

To own a dog, the two most important things you need to have are time and patience. You need time and patience for feeding your dog every day, housebreaking, brushing, walking, playing and training, taking him to a vet and most importantly for loving him. All this has to happen whether you feel like it or not. So, if you are considering getting a dog, first be honest with yourself.

Kids and pets

If you are thinking about getting a pet and you have children, it may be time to step back and evaluate your kids’ attitude toward animals. Many children have never had any guidelines as to the proper rules for dealing with animals. Some kids run up to the animals recklessly and others shy away in fear when they encounter one. Learning respect for animals should be a big part of growing up, but the increasing number of dog bite incidents is clear evidence that parent’s aren’t telling kids what they need to know. Start teaching your kids about animals at an early age. Show them how to listen and learn about their animal compatriots. Teach your child to be gentle. You might show them how to stroke an animal gently on a stuffed toy first, and then graduate to a friend’s pet who you know is very gentle. Be sure to teach your child not to chase or hit any animal. A kid who is taught to care about animals learns that animals and people are living things and should not be treated violently. If you plan to get a pet, have your child help you research breeds and learn how to take care of a new pet. Explain that owning an animal is a lifetime commitment and point out that the animals should not be treated as disposable “throw away” toys. Show your kids the importance of having the pet as a family member, but don’t expect small children to take full responsibility for caring for an animal. Getting a pet is a fantastic opportunity for education. Kids who have been taught to respect animals learn to look at the world around them in a more humane, caring way. And who wouldn’t want that for their kids.

Think about the pets

Life is full of changes and if you don’t think your pet notices, well, you are wrong. Many times behaviour problems in pet can be traced to changes in their home life. After all, they live there too. Major life events such as death, separation, or divorce cause a great deal of emotional distress and pets pick up on it and become anxious. If people suddenly start shouting and arguing with one another, it has effect on every creature in the house.

What a working person can do?

We have all seen dogs left outside all day to fend for themselves or chained to a dog house, presumably while their owners are at work. Less obvious are those dogs who are left at home all day trapped in a crate. Dogs are social animals and when they are left alone for hours everyday, behavior problems may occur. But even dogs who spend a lot of time with their owners can end up with behavioral issues when the owner goes out. Unfortunately, this type of destruction, barking, obsessive-compulsive behaviours and anxiety are all potential results of social deprivation and boredom. Even though all dogs were bred to do some type of work, too many of them are forced to spend their days doing nothing at all. As with your little kids, if you don’t give a dog something to do, she will find something to do. And it would undoubtedly be something you won’t like. As with your children, someone needs to be in charge. Dogs feel more secure when they have a set routine and a clear leader. That leader should be you. The answer is to provide a stable environment with clear ground rules. If you aren’t the one in charge now, it’s time to start exercising some leadership. For example, when you leave the house, never make it a big issue. Just go. It’s an ordinary event for you and it should be for the dog. If your comings and goings have turned into a massive emotional situation, you need to tone it down. Owning a dog when you have a job is not impossible. But when you’re home, be sure to give your dog lots of love and exercise. After all, a tired dog is a good dog.

(Dr. Aradhana Pandey is the owner of Doggy World, an exclusive center catering to all dog needs. Apart from clinical practice, she specializes in dog grooming, dog behavior and nutrition.)

 

– by Dr. Aradhana Pandey


Tips for responsible pet parenting

  • It starts with bringing home a pup with the desired breed characters.
  • Ensure that the pup is brought from a recognized breeder or vet to avoid genetic defects and health problems.
  • Before entry of pet in the house, you need to make provision for his place, bed, feed and water, etc.
  • Fix the timings and place feeding.
  • Expose the pup to the food that is healthy for him and do not feed scraps.
  • Pups normally relieve after meals if diet schedule is followed. Take the pup to the place where you want him to relieve. Repeat this for a few days, following which the pup gets accustomed to this routine.
  • Do not beat or scold a dog unnecessarily. Speaking in a high pitch commanding tone is enough, if he has done some mistake.
  • Children and other members of the house should get familiar to the pet as a part of socializing.
  • Playing with the pet is good but he should not be over bothered so as to irritate or tire him.
  • Develop a bond with the pet by patting, massage, grooming and playing.
  • Train the pet for all commands you would like him to follow, and use these commands regularly.
  • Train the pet to remain at home even in your absence. This can be done by leaving him for short duration to begin with that is gradually extended.
  • Encourage good habits and discourage bad habits from the very first day.
  • Avoid accidents by taking your pet out with a leash.
  • Avoid chances of poisoning by keeping poisonous substances out of his reach.

Making your pet Pretty ‘n’ healthy

Groom your pooch, make him shine with health and beauty. Here are a few tips to make grooming sessions enjoyable for you both:

  • Establish and adhere to a regular schedule of grooming sessions.
  • Schedule these at a convenient time for both; a good time to do this is after the dog has been walked, while he is relieved and calm.
  • Select a time when you will not be interrupted and have ample time to do a proper grooming; longhaired dogs should be groomed daily, while shorthaired breeds may require grooming only twice a week.
  • For puppies, set a time when the puppy is less energetic and begin with short grooming sessions, say for five minutes.
  • Constantly talk to the puppy in a gentle, reassuring tone while grooming to make him feel comfortable.
  • Put the hair aside and examine the skin closely for signs of fleas, ticks or skin irritations.
  • Look for any unusual problems with his coat, viz matts, tangles, dandruff, etc.
  • Let the dog sniff the brush and comb before you begin grooming, and then talk to the pet in a reassuring tone while grooming; if the grooming procedure is made comfortable for the dog, he will begin to look forward to regular grooming sessions.
  • Do regular combing and brushing, which will keep his coat clean and healthy and stimulate skin.
  • Comb in the direction of hair growth, combing small sections at a time, until the coat is tangle free.
  • Use anti-tangle comb for troublesome knots and tangles; and if the coat has a particularly stubborn knot or tangle, trim it off with scissors.
  • Use a dematting comb, slicker or rake to remove matts.
  • Begin with the widely spaced teeth and follow with the finer teeth, using a combination comb.
  • Start brushing at the head, working towards the tail and down the legs.
  • Pay particular attention to the legs and flanks, and areas that easily matt.
  • Use a pin brush to fluff the coat.
  • Check areas for hair loss, inflammation, unusual tenderness or lumps under the skin; constant scratching in a particular area may also be an indication of a problem.
  • Consult your vet in case you find any unusual roblems.
  • Learn where the pet likes to be combed and brushed and where he doesn’t because all dogs have sensitive areas that need to be groomed a little more gently and carefully than others; by doing so, one will help the pet to make him more comfortable.
  • Be sure to check the puppy’s ears, paws, teeth, and underside during the grooming procedure for making him accustomed to being handled and examined.
  • Trim his nails regularly.
  • Never use ordinary scissors to trim the dog’s nails. Use trimmers that are specially designed for dogs.
  • During nail trimming, hold the dog’s paw firmly, and cut off the tip of the nail with a single stroke; also be very careful to stop short of the quick, the blood vessel inside the nail.
  • Use conditioned shampoo (properly balanced pH) specially made for dog’s bath.
  • After proper rinsing, ensure adequate drying of coat, especially for longhaired breeds, so that no excess moisture under hair coat is retained.
  • In case of ectoparasitic infestation, adhere strictly to the advice of vet, regarding dilution of drug, technique of application and follow up.
  • Be more careful about puppies; until and unless heavy dirt or any medical requirement, generally puppies are not given bath up to three months of age.

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.

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.

Tools

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.

Bathing

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

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.

Skin

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.

Ears

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.

Feet

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.)

“Paw-Tales” l July-Aug 2006

Ginger – a Friend, Partner, a defender…
Pets are wonderful companions and dogs are the best. He is friendly, confident and a faithful comrade. My pet, Ginger, a golden Labrador is a loving, playful dog, true to
his Lab characteristics; he is affectionate and hates to stay alone.
When I come back from school, he greets me with total exuberance. He jumps up and if I am not careful – I can be floored!! His eyes are very expressive and if we don’t give him the desired biscuit, he simply sulks.
The most comical antic of his is when he chases lizards and birds. I only have to say “Lizzi Bizzi” and he goes berserk. He barks and jumps and tries to catch the
lizard, and when he cannot reach it, he reacts comically. His antics always leave us in splits of laughter. He is  a great companion and we all love Ginger.
– Vrinda

Need of 24/7 pet care

Owned by our furry angels, making their wish our command – a new phase has come where we can actually pamper our lil’ babies. A lot of people 001have started addressing themselves as pet parents and share the feeling that these darlings are an integral part of the family, who not only give love, but keep the family together and they cannot think of life without their four-legged sweethearts. The foremost thing as responsible pet parents is the health and safety of one’s pet, which makes me wonder, God forbid if emergency strikes at an unearthly hour, who do I call? Where do I go? What do I do? Now imagine a pet care centre which is run 24/7, doesn’t that feel secure? As the number of people who share their lives with their canine babies has grown and is growing everyday, it becomes essential to have facilities that take care of their furry angels. So hoping in the coming year, we have facilities that take care of this need. Till such time comes, it would be good if one could speak to one’s veterinary doctor and be aware of the numbers at which they can be contacted at. To be on the safe side, keep these numbers handy with all members of the family.

Also in times of natural calamities, while ensuring our safety, we must ensure the safety of our pets as well. Recent instances of earthquakes and floods rendered many pets homeless and many succumbed to the vagaries of nature. But, there were a lucky few pets who were saved and protected by pet parents. Kudos to those pet parents!

On a lighter note, the nip in the air is back and it’s time again to look forward to festivities, goodies and wait for Santa. Ensure that your lil’ one is warm, cosy and cuddled with you.

Sparkle loves this time of the year and woofs a very Merry X’mas to you all.

Shweta Khurana

Tips for enjoying the festive season with your pet:

  • Keep the dogs indoors or where he feels secure. A room that is calm and less noisy is preferred. Give him his favourite toy, usual bed and utensils.
  • Introduce dogs gradually to sound of crackers from puppy hood in an attempt to condition them or desensitise them, starting from sound or very small crackers.
  • Make your children aware that your friendly pet is bound to suffer if they burn crackers near the house. Encourage them to buy sparkling crackers that make less noise.
  • Take precaution regarding feeding and keep water available all the time. Dogs may consume only water during noisy days. Do not keep the dog alone and locked up in a room as it may increase his anxiety.
  • Do not punish the dog for being panicky, on the contrary, pamper him with your love and attention which will soothe his nerves.

Tips for pet keeping

Dr. Aradhana Pandey is a regular blogger for dogs and pups magazine, she gives tips for the well-being of your four-legged new member of the family. To keep a pet is to commit oneself to his care. You should be aware of certain tips required for the well being of the new life you have added to your family.

Tips for Pets KeepingPets Feeding Tips – Like a small child, a pup needs to be fed at short intervals. An interval of 4-5 hours is good enough to begin with that is to be increased as the pup grows. The suggested pets feeding time as per the age is as below: The frequency of feeding, however, may slightly vary as per the breed type. A pup’s diet should be rich in protein and fats, apart from having sufficient energy, hence adequate provision should be made to fulfill the need of your pets nutrients. Most of the pups cannot digest milk, hence it can be avoided in case of problem. Instead, curd can be included.

  • Best Supplements for Your Pets – To cope up with the growth requirement, the pet needs diet rich in minerals (especially Calcium and Phosphorous), vitamins and fatty acids. If diet is low in these elements, additional supplementation is recommended to fulfill the need.
  • Smart Way to Groom your pets – A pup should be kept neat and clean. After consulting your vet, pups can be bathed at a gap of every 1 month. To keep pup clean and free from infection, regular brushing or combing is a must. Once in a while, flea comb should be used to check flea infestation. Antiseptic/antimicrobial dusting powders can be used to check skin affection/allergy. Trimming of hair from the front of eyes will prevent eye problems. The grown up puppy (especially short hair) should be massaged to improve the skin health.
  • Puppy Bedding– Provide him with a space of his own, baskets/beds of various sizes are available. Right from the very first day he must identify where he is supposed to sleep. To make him acquainted with his bedding, put his toys and chewing objects on his bed.
  • Puppies Dental care – Dental cleaning should be started from an early age so that the pup gets used to it. Various options in form of paste, spray and gel are available. If not routinely cleaned, the teeth may develop problems in later stage of life.
  • Ear cleaning– Dogs’ ears develop a lot of wax that needs to be regularly cleaned otherwise it serves as a good medium for infectious agents. Pups should be made accustomed to ear cleaning otherwise he may not co-operate when grown up. Various cleansing agents are available in the market and can be used on the advice of the veterinarian.
  • Pets Vaccination– The pup should be duly vaccinated for all the important diseases which could otherwise be life threatening. The vaccination schedule can be procured from the vet and should be strictly followed. The major diseases from which the dog is to be protected are– Parvo virus, Canine distemper, Rabies, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza, Infectious canine hepatitis and Corona virus infection. The vaccination schedule is to be annually repeated after the initial shots. The vaccines are very safe if given in a stress-free and healthy animal.
  • Security – Pups should be kept in a secured place wherein the chances of theft, accidents and poisoning are nil. Young pups have a habit of scavenging everything. Also they love to run away from home to explore the outside world. These conditions can turn to be very serious for the pup. Also there remains a possibility of road accident, as pups may not have road sense. At the same time, pup should not be kept locked in a room or crowded messy place. A over restrained pup will not grow as a healthy and disciplined dog.
  • Puppy Exercise TimeA pup should start with a gentle exercise in the courtyard of the house. This may finally take the shape of a rigorous exercise when he approaches adulthood. The transition phase should be simultaneous so that undue pressure on the joints and muscles is prevented. An exercise in the soil surface is always better than the exercise on a hard surface.
  • Prevention from ectoparasites– Pups may catch ectoparasites (ticks, lice and fleas) from their environment. Hence, it should be ensured that the place where pup is kept or taken should be free from ectoparasitic infestation.
  • Exposure to Infectious Diseases– Certain serious infectious diseases may be transmitted to the pet in the company of infected dogs. Hence until complete vaccination is over, pups should not be kept in the company of other dogs. Hopefully, these tips would help you to take care of your loving canine. (Dr. Aradhana Pandey runs Doggy World – the pet’s paradise catering to all doggy needs under one roof. A veterinarian with MBA in marketing, she believes in service to the customer at an affordable cost, without compromising on quality. She can be contacted at Tel: 9811299059, 011-27942285, 011-55817851 or e-mail: aradhana14@yahoo.com)

When should a pet be vaccinated

As you all know, prevention is always better than cure. To ensure that your pet is healthy and is geared up to fight against infections, ensure that your loving canine is duly vaccinated.

Do you know that we are constantly attacked by millions of micro-organisms which inhibit our world? Thus, some means of protection is required for survival for not only humans but also our canines.

Defence mechanisms:

Healthy bodies are always equipped with several defence mechanisms, which are in operation all the times. The skin is a barrier to invasion by microbes, the mucous membrane in the nose traps foreign bodies that are breathed in and the cough reflex comes into play when throat and larynx are irritated to prevent germs getting into the lungs. Stomach acidity kills invaders which get that far and the mucous produced by the small bowel acts as a barrier to infections. Liver also detoxifies the toxins harmful to the body. These defence mechanisms and the immune systems are very active in healthy body but they are very weak when there is stress on the body.

Importance of vaccination:

Immune system in young ones is not fully developed to fight with the invaders and is also not capable of producing antibodies as compared to adults. Nature has arranged some protective antibodies, which a puppy gets from her mother, and these are called passive antibodies. These antibodies pass to puppies while they are in the uterus and also through mother’s first milk — the colostrum. The antibodies which the mother passes to her puppies are against those diseases which she herself has encountered or been vaccinated against. The passive immunity in the puppies fades off early, so the puppy must develop her own immunity either by encounter with disease or by vaccination, to live a healthy and long life. Since we do not want pups to endure an episode of disease to develop their own protection, we turn to creation immunity by vaccination.

Types of vaccine:

Nowadays there are many types of vaccines available with your vet. There are attenuated live vaccine, killed vaccine, toxoids and mixed vaccines. Protection created by vaccines is generally not long lasting as natural immunity, thus boosters are periodically needed and different intervals are advised for different diseases and different products.

When should a pet be vaccinated:

Every pet owner aims to stimulate the production of active antibodies by vaccination, as early as possible in a puppy’s life. Unfortunately, this is not easily achieved, since maternally-derived antibodies not only protects against disease, but also prevents a proper response to vaccination. There is an immunity gap during which puppies will not have enough maternal antibodies to protect them against infection, but sufficient to prevent effective vaccination. Many efforts have gone into to keep this vulnerable time to minimum. The personal immunity of a pup varies from other brothers and sisters from the same litter depending upon the colostrum taken from their mother and personal immune system development. Orphan puppies who have no colostrum, can theoretically be vaccinated at birth, but it is wiser to wait until 3-6 weeks of age to allow the immune system to develop properly. Thus, the puppies should be vaccinated at the age of 6-8 weeks of age against Canine Distemper and Canine Parvo viral infections. But it is advisable to contact your vet who will calculate the optimum time for vaccination in the light of local disease conditions and the history of the kennel in which the puppy was born. Finally in this connection, it has to be remembered that there will always be a proportion of dogs whose bodies fail to respond to vaccine given to them. The booster for Canine Distemper, Parvo virus, Leptospirosis, Adenovirus type-1 and type-2, infectious Canine Hepatitis, Panleucopenia (DHLPP) should be repeated after 12 weeks of age and vaccine of anti-rabies after 13 weeks of age vaccine against canine corona virus (not very prevalent in Asian countries) should be given after second booster of DHLPP.

Side effects of vaccination:

Vaccination does not usually affect behaviour or appetite. Some dogs may feel off colour for a day or two after the vaccination and few may show mild local reaction at the site of the injection.

(Dr R. T. Sharma is a Veterinary Surgeon President of Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), associated to RSPCA, London, UK and Animal Welfare Board of India, practising in Delhi since 1990. He can be reached at 9810036254.)