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Controlling pests on pets

Canine Babesiosis is a highly fatal disease of dogs. It is caused by blood protozoan called Babesia canis and is spread by ticks. Babesiosis has worldwide prevalence, mostly in regions where the tick vectors are prevalent. This disease occurs in all age groups of dogs but young pets tend to become infected more often and with worse symptoms. Here’s more on this disease.

Cause and transmission

Babesiosis is caused by a protozoa called Babesia canis and is spread in dogs by two species of ticks namely, Dog HealthRhipicephalus sanguineus or Brown Dog Tick and Dermacentor variabilis or American Dog Tick. The protozoa are ingested by the tick when it bites an infected animal and then it dislodges and transmits the protozoa to an uninfected animal attaching to it. The protozoa then attach and penetrate the new host and transmit the disease.

Symptoms of infection

Canine babesiosis can be identified easily by pet parents by its peculiar clinical signs which include high fever (more than 105oF), inappetence, reddish/coffee colour urine, pale yellow gums and mucus membranes and enlargement of lymph nodes. The affected dog will appear weak and lethargic. Since the disease is caused by tick vector, it may be associated with other tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease, Canine Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc. This is often responsible for complication of the diseases and increase in severity of the symptoms of the disease.

Diagnosing Babesiosis

History of the case will provide useful clue to the diagnosis of Babesiosis. Your veterinarian may like to know about the prevalence of ticks in the area and exposure of your pet to the ticks.

The diagnosis of the disease mainly depends on history and clinical signs. Confirmatory diagnosis of the disease can be made by examination of blood smear prepared from freshly drawn blood from capillary rather than from blood vessels and detection of pyriform organism in the smear. Babesia organism appears in pair as tear shaped organism. The prevalence of tick in the particular area along with characteristic clinical signs gives a clue about the disease. Other laboratory findings include development of anaemia, low haemoglobin, low PCV, increase in concentration of blood. Other methods of diagnosis of Babesiosis include Antibody Testing, Imunefluorescence Technique, Hematocrit Centrifugation Test, and Polymerase Chain Reaction by RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) using a known primer.

Treatment & management

Different drugs have been used for the treatment of Babesiosis with varying degree of success. Diminazine aceturate is the most common therapeutic option at a dose rate of 3.5-5 mg/kg. The dose rate of Babesia gibsoni is 10 mg/kg body weight. There may be distinct side effects of this drug and hence it may be used judiciously; preferably rehydration should be done before the administration of the drugs in case of dehydrated and debilitated animals. Severely anaemic patients may require blood transfusion and oxygen therapy before administration of antiprotozoal drugs.

Supportive therapy with i/v fluids, cortico steroids and liver tonics may be useful in treatment of Babesiosis.

Prevention & helpful tips

  • Prevention or control of Babesiosis mainly depends upon the control of tick population of the area.
  • Pets should be regularly checked for the presence of ticks if they are going outside.
  • Regular spray of drugs which kills ticks should be done on the floor of kennel after consulting your vet.
  • Tick-infected dogs should be washed with drugs effective against ticks after preparing the dilution of recommended strength.
  • Injection of Ivermectin can also be given at six months interval as it will help to control ticks as well as other parasites.
  • Tick collar or other accessories should be tried on expert’s advice.
  • Blood transfusion from infected dog should be avoided.

(Dr MK Shukla is assistant professor/scientist at Department of Animal Reproduction, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, College of Veterinary Science & AH, Jabalpur, MP).

feactures fun and frolic

Skin: mirror of your pet’s health

Skin…the lifeguard

The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body. It forms a barrier to protect thefeactures fun and frolic body from infections, infestations and other harmful elements. It also maintains body’s internal environment, prevents loss of moisture and other body constituents. Its daily exposure to outside environment makes it susceptible to injury and diseases, which are very easily visible on proper skin examination.

The basic facts…

Skin cells: The skin is made up of layers of cells, lubricating (sebaceous) glands, blood vessels, nerve endings, and hair follicles which produce hair. The skin cells form layers, namely the tough outer covering called the ‘epidermis’ and the deeper layer called the ‘dermis’. The epidermis is composed of older cells that form a tough, almost impervious, protective outer barrier. While, the deeper layer (dermis) contains hair follicles, blood vessels, nerves and sebaceous (oil) glands. Hair follicles and sebaceous glands are more prevalent on the back than on the belly. Hair and nails are made of a hard substance called keratin.

Types of coat: Dogs have short fluffy hair called secondary hair. Other names for secondary hair include underfur and undercoat. The second type of hair is the longer and stiffer outer hair called primary hair. Primary hair is also referred to as guard hair, outer hair, or outer coat. They also have a third type of hair: the whisker. Whiskers are called tactile hair because they help the dog sense his surroundings.

Puppy’s skin is covered by a short, soft, and sometimes wool-like hair. Sometimes the puppy hair, or fur as it is sometimes referred to, is a similar color to what is expected as an adult. Sometimes the puppy fur is slightly lighter when first born. For instance, Dalmatian puppies are born with few or no black spots. The coat is pure white with the black spots developing as the puppy grows.

Hair facts: Each hair grows from a simple opening within the skin called a hair follicle. A puppy is born with all of the hair follicles it will ever possess. Any future differences or changes of the hair coat will be due to changes within the follicle. Each hair shaft produced by a hair follicle will eventually die and be removed (shed) and replaced by a new hair shaft produced by that hair follicle. All dogs of every breed continually shed old dead hair from the follicle and replace it with a new live and growing hair. The extent or rapidity to which an individual sheds is, however, governed by factors such as age, amount of sunlight, outside temperature, breed, sex, hormones, allergies, nutrition, etc.

Skin care tips for your pooch

It is important to take good care of your pooch’s diet and grooming needs to ensure he has a healthy skin.

The nutritional advice

  • Maintain proper amount of essential fatty acid supplementation in diet for better hair growth and lustrous coat.
  • In dermatitis dietary provision of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids can be used as skin and coat rejuvenators because of its anti-inflammatory efficacy.
  • Maintain proper balance of essential nutrients in diet, multivitamin and multi-mineral supplements can be used to rule out any dietary deficiency.

Bathing and grooming advice

  • Bathing should be done with lukewarm water.
  • Do not bath puppies under three months of age, instead sponging can be done.
  • Female dogs should not be given bath after four weeks of pregnancy.
  • Put cotton plugs in both ears to avoid entry of water while bathing.
  • After bath, skin should be dried thoroughly with the help of towels; care should be taken to drain out maximum possible water.
  • Grooming with suitable brush should be done at least once in a day.

(Dr Mandar Deshpande (Business Manager) & Dr Vishal Surve (Product Manager), Companion Animal Products, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd).

FAQs on ‘Essential Fatty Acid Supplement for Pets’

Skin and coat supplements for pets are basically essential fatty acids. Here are a few FAQs on what these supplements are and how are they beneficial to the pets.

Q: Are skin and coat supplements essential for pets?dog health
A: Pets may require certain nutrients that help in maintenance of healthy skin and coat. Moreover, some pets may need more supplements of nutrients than other dogs. Usually, most of the skin and coat supplements contain essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to support and maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin.

Q: What are essential fatty acids?
A: Essential fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fats that cannot be produced within the body of pets. Therefore, they must be obtained through their diets or supplements. However, the essential fatty acid, which is essential for one species of animal, may not necessarily be essential for another. For example, one of the fatty acids, arachidonic acid is essential for cats but not for dogs.

Q: Which essential fatty acids are necessary for skin and coat health?
A: The two main classes of essential fatty acids necessary for maintaining the skin and coat condition are the Omega-3s and the Omega-6s.

Q: What are the sources of essential fatty acids?
A: Essential fatty acids may be found in many plants and cold-water fish with varying quantities of Omega 6 and Omega 3. Fish oils are good sources of Omega 3 (Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexanoic acid) while certain plants and grains may also contain essential fatty acids like sunflower oil and safflower oil contain high quantity of Omega 6 (Linoleic acid).

Q: What is an appropriate ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet?
A: It is difficult to say the exact ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3 as there may be variation related to the individual pets. Based on the research report, the current recommendations of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids are for ratios of 10:1 to 5:1 in the daily diet. Maintaining a proper ratio of Omega 6 fatty acid and Omega 3 fatty acid is very crucial as they share a common enzyme. Otherwise, improper ratio of these fatty acids may enhance itching, oozing and swelling instead of reducing them.

Q: How do fatty acids help in reducing inflammation?
A: Essential fatty acids are naturally found in the cell membranes. When a cell is damaged there is release of inflammatory agents that can cause inflammation and itching. Essential fatty acids help to reduce the harmful effects of these inflammatory agents, thus reducing the inflammation and itching.

Q: How long fatty acid supplements are to be given?
A: Essential fatty acids supplementation may take a minimum period of 3-4 weeks and as long as 12 weeks to elicit the beneficial effects.

Q: Can essential fatty acid supplements be given with other medications?
A: Even though there is very low risk of incompatibility between essential fatty acid supplementation with other medications, it is always advised to consult your veterinarian first. Depending on the condition of your pet and the type of medication, veterinarian can tell you whether to give essential fatty acid supplements along with other medications or not.

Q: Are there any side effects from essential fatty acid supplements?
A: The side effects are very less or negligible. They may cause loose stool when used in high doses. If that occurs, stop and start again with a very low dose and gradually increase the dose so that your pet will get used to it.
Q: Are there any other indications for supplemental fatty acids?
A: Fatty acids are necessary for the normal function of many systems of the body and not all fatty acids have the same function. Because different fatty acids have different effects, the choice of a fatty acid supplement needs to be based on the specific condition we are trying to manage.

In addition to improving skin and coat health, many scientific articles reported the beneficial effects of fatty acid supplementation in different conditions such as allergies, autoimmune conditions, arthritis, inflammatory conditions of kidney and intestine, yeast infections, eye disorders, heart diseases, epilepsy and cancer.

(The authors belong to Product Management Team, PetCare).

Pets & parasites : Not a good pair!

Being a dog owner is a rewarding and pleasurable experience but it carries with responsibilities particularly with regard to pet’s health. Dogs play a major part in the family household and bring in a lot of love and life to the family; therefore they need to be fit and healthy. Worms can be a real threat and hence our pooches need to be dewormed regularly. Worms and infections

Several species of worms infest the intestines of dogs. They are named by their shapes: roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm and whipworm. Whilst in the intestines of dogs – their host – worms produce microscopic eggs which pass into the droppings. With the exception of tapeworms, it generally takes several days for the eggs to become infective for other dogs. Infection occurs after ingesting the infective stages although hookworms can penetrate the skin. Once in the dog, whipworms and tapeworms develop directly in the intestines while the hookworms and roundworms migrate through body tissues to the intestine and the cycle starts over. Pets can be infested with several parasite species simultaneously.

Symptoms of infection

Worms cause several problems like lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia and even death in some cases, if left untreated. None of the symptoms described here is exclusive to infestation by one worm type, thus making diagnosis difficult.

Roundworm infestations in dogs may cause a dull haircoat, diarrhoea and pot bellied appearance.

Hookworm infestations in dogs may cause anaemia showing lack of enthusiasm, energy and stamina along with dull haircoat and over all poor condition.

Whipworm infestations in dogs may cause gradual weight loss and diarrhoea. Severe infestations cause foetid, blood specked diarrhoea, anorexia, weight loss, abdominal pain and even anaemia and dehydration. Tapeworm infestations may cause dogs to ‘scoot’ due to anal itching.

Making pets worm-free

Ensuring a pet worm-free is not as simple as administering only one treatment. Reinfestation with worms can begin immediately after the animal has been treated. This occurs in two ways – when the animal ‘picks up’ new worms from the contaminated environment and when worm larvae already acquired mature in an animal’s intestine. The latter occurs because the body offers some protection from the medicines to the larvae that have migrated beyond the digestive tract.

The solution is to follow a control programme by which, egg output by adult worms can be largely eliminated and reinfestation from contaminated areas minimized.

Deworming in pups

Immature worms present in the body tissue of female dogs can cause infestation of round worm in unborn puppies during pregnancy or infestation of hookworm in newborn pups via milk.

Pups can be seriously affected by immature worms before infestations are detectable by the presence of worm eggs in pup’s faeces, so it is often essential to commence early treatment.

Worms developing from pre-natal (before birth) and colostrum (first milk) infestations can be present in the gut of the pup one week after birth & may take further 2-3 weeks to develop. Dosing every two weeks from 6 to 12 weeks of age is recommended.

Deworming in pregnant dogs

Immature worms in the body tissue of pregnant dogs may develop and infect unborn pups with roundworms during pregnancy or newborn pups with hookworm during lactation. During pregnancy, additional infestations in the female dog can be prevented by ensuring that the environment is not contaminated and high standards of hygiene is adopted.

During pregnancy and lactation, the female dog’s naturally acquired resistance to worms is reduced. This allows larvae to resume development in such dogs. All female dogs should be wormed prior to mating and before whelping and then every three months to reduce environmental contamination and infestations.

Deworming in adult dogs

Adult dogs need to be dewormed every three months after they are six months of age. A veterinarian should be consulted for deworming, especially where the situation may be deemed high risk and conducive to worm outbreaks (where hygiene is poor, where the dog population is high or where the climate is tropical, humid or with high rainfall).

Particular circumstances do occur when a pet should be wormed in addition to these programmes as:

 

  • Newly acquired pup – regardless of history
  • Boarding kennels
  • Dogs passing worms in faeces
  • Presence of tapeworm segments (rice grain)

It is a wise move to have a faecal sample checked by your veterinarian before carrying a regular worming programme and pets should be weighed before treatment to ensure accurate dosage.

Worms and humans

Certain types of worms that affect dogs can also have a detrimental effect upon humans, although this is relatively uncommon. Roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms can occasionally be a health hazard for people. Infection occurs simply by swallowing the eggs or larvae and naturally this is most likely with young children who are playing with puppies or who are in a soiled environment. The hydatid tapeworm can also affect people, which can be a problem in areas where infected offal is fed to dogs.

So please remember that regular worming is essential to your pet’s good health and part of being a responsible pet parent. Always choose a worming treatment that is effective and makes deworming easy for your pet as lot many different options are available in the market today.

Always consult your veterinarian for correct treatment option for your dog.

(Dr Vishal Surve, M.V.Sc, Pharmacology & Toxicology, is Product Executive at Petcare Animal Health, PROVIMI.)

Ectoparasites of Pets

Ticks and Fleas are the most common and most important ectoparasites of companion animals throughout the world. Next to these are mites, lice, sand flies and mosquitoes as nuisance ectoparasites. Here’s more on fleas and ticks on dogs and cats.

 

Fleas on dogs and cats

These small dark brown insects prefer temperatures of 20–30 degree Celsius and humidity levels of 75-85%… so for some areas of the country they are more than just a ‘summer’ problem. Dogs and cats often get infested with fleas through contact with other animals or contact with fleas in the environment. The strong back legs of this insect enable it to jump from host to host or from the environment onto the host. (Fleas do not have wings so cannot fly!)

The flea’s bite can cause itching for the host but for a sensitive or flea-allergic animal, this itching can be quite severe and leads to hair-loss, inflammation and secondary skin infections.

Commom species of fleas in cats & dogs are:

  • Ctenocephalides felis, the cat flea, (A) original size 2.1 mm
  • Ctenocephalides canis, the dog flea, (B) original size 3.2 mm

Understanding the flea life cycle

There are several stages to its life cycle: egg, larva or caterpillar, pupa or cocoon, and adult. The length of time it takes to complete this cycle varies depending upon the environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and the availability of a nourishing host. The adult female flea typically lives for several weeks on the pet. During this time period she will suck the animal’s blood two to three times a day and lay twenty to thirty eggs each day.

The egg then hatches into larvae. These tiny worm-like larvae live among the carpet fibres, in cracks of the floor, and outside in the environment. They feed on organic matter, skin scales, and even the blood-rich adult flea faeces. The larvae grow, molt twice and then form a cocoon and pupate, waiting for the right time to hatch into an adult. These pupae are very resilient and can survive for along time. Then they emerge from their cocoons when they detect heat, vibrations and exhaled carbon dioxide, all of which indicate that a host is nearby.

The newly emerged adult flea can jump onto a nearby host immediately. Under optimal conditions, the flea can complete its entire life cycle in just fourteen days.

Damage to health in pets

Flea infestation can disrupt the general well-being of all animals. The most harmful effects are:

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis in dogs
  • Feline Miliary Dermatitis in cats
  • Anaemia & weakness
  • Transmission of tapeworm Dipylidium caninum through ingestion of fleas by dogs.
  • Transmission of bacterial diseases

Ticks

The most important species of hard ticks as parasites of companion animals in India are:

Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Brown Dog Tick). The ticks can feed for extended periods of time on their hosts, varying from several days to weeks, depending on such factors as life stage, host type, and species of tick. The adult ticks can suck anywhere from 200-600 times their unfed body weight. Ticks are obligate blood feeders. All active stages require blood as a nutritive source and, in the case of adults, for sperm or egg production.

Host seeking: Hard ticks seek hosts by an interesting behaviour called ‘questing.’ Questing ticks crawl up the stems of grass or perch on

the edges of leaves on the ground in a typical posture with the front legs extended, especially in response to a host passing by.

Developmental cycle: All ticks have four stages, the embryonated egg and the three active stages, the larva, one or more nymphal stages, and the adult.

Tick borne diseases

Most prominent being Tick Fever which is a collective term used for 3 or 4 major diseases caused by ticks are:

  • Ehrlichiosis caused by Ehrlichia canis
  • Hepatozonnosis caused by Hepatozoon canis
  • Rickettsia rickettsia
  • Babesiosis caused by Babesia canis
  • Blood loss leading to anaemia
  • Tick paralysis

Control of Ectoparasites

When it comes to ectoparasites, prevention is the key. Attempting to control ticks and flea on our dogs and cats is a multi-step process.

To have a successful ticks and fleas control program we must:

  • Remove ticks and fleas from the indoor environment.
  • Remove ticks and fleas from the outdoor environment.
  • Remove ticks and fleas from the pets.
  • Keep future ticks and fleas away.

Choice of right drug

You must choose an ectoparasiticide on the basis of following criteria:

  • Important features of a modern ectoparasiticide–Clear an existing ectoparasite infestation by demonstrating: Efficacy > 90% within 24 hour post application, which means should have fast Onset of efficacy or ‘Speed of kill.’
  • Prevent re-infestation (control) for a longer period.
  • Persistency /repellency.
  • Safety for pet animal, pet owner and environment.
  • Owner compliance – should be easy to use/apply.

Pomeranian-Tips for keeping pets warm and healthy during winters

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.

“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

Pawspective: What Childrens feel about their pets

Dogs and children together are often showed in an obviously trusting and loving relationship. This relationship has also been honoured in children’s literature, ranging from Lassie to Peter Pan, and generations have grown up not only having experienced wonderful times with childhood pets, but wishing their own children to have the same experience and, with a few simple considerations, they will.

Dogs can provide children with companionship and loyal friendship and in return children can provide their dog with affection and endless opportunities for activity and interaction. A family dog plays a key role in a child’s formative years, teaching him responsibility, besides developing nurturing and caring skills. Children with pets also generally have higher self-esteem and better social skills. Birthday parties, holidays, treats… children pamper their four-legged friend to the paws. But they are also aware of what are the important requirements for their pet. They might forget to take their own medicine but will remember Simba’s doctor appointment for sure.

When we interacted with few children about a feature on their relationship with their pet dog, there was immense excitement. One common request that we had from all these children was that Bollywood film industry should stop dog baiting insults and warned that wag-a-bon-ders like them might set their hounds loose. So scriptwriters beware, the younger generation is much better turned out than we might have expected.

D&P : What do you feel about animals and who do you like most? What do you learn from pets and how do you take care of them?
Sahil (Std 7, Sanskriti School): Animals have a very different world of their own. If you want to see what nature and power is, you have to understand the brilliant instincts of the animal world first. I had different kinds of pet but I like dogs most and especially my pet buddy Burney. He is totally my responsibility. My previous pet – a GSD Zaious – taught me what it involves in keeping a pet. It is not just about having a lovely expensive breed with who you can play with and then you completely forget him the next moment. I pay special attention to him since he cannot express his feelings. Burney listens to me and tries to read my mood and behaves accordingly. We get along like a house on fire. Sometimes when I am studying and he wants to play, he would come near me and try to show that we should actually go out and not sit at one place and get bored.
Having pets is a full-time responsibility and commitment to give them a great life. I know how to give basic first aid to an injured animal as I am a member of  Friendicoes and I do whatever little I can. I have 11 stray puppies at my farmhouse. I wish all of us
could give every needy dog a home. Animals are great companions and it’s just superb having and getting to know them. All animals have moods and we should always look out to listen to them since they cannot talk in our language. If they are unhappy, we should always try to find out what’s wrong with them. I wish I could have a lot of dogs around me but I am happy that I have Burney and I am being able to give him all my care, love and attention.

D&P : What is the importance of pets in your life?
Sunny (Std. 9, GD Birla): I have four Rottweilers and one Dachshund at home. It’s just too amusing to see a huge and a tiny dog together. What I admire about dogs is that they are honest with you and let you know their feelings. They never hurt or are ignorant to your feelings. I feel they have an extraordinary power of understanding, just like God. They just seem to know it all. They are great fun, and you can spend hours and hours with them, without getting bored. They will follow you from room to room, always doing what you are doing.  This four-legged friend is a true companion. My dogs are my family and most important for my life.

D&P: Do you love pets? Which pet animals do you like the best?
Kirat Gulati (Std 3, Ryan International): I am born and brought up amidst a lot of funny and cute Pugs and I can proudly say that I have company of four wonderful Pugs 24×7. They are Yoda, Figaro, Shasmo & Paris, of which Figaro is my favourite. I also love fish and have them at my home but my dogs are my actual friends. My Pugs think that I am the best and with them around, I can just spend hours indoor. They are my best friends and give me unconditional love. My friends are really envious of me since most of them want to keep pets but their parents don’t allow them to. It so happens that my entire family loves dogs.
I feel very sad for the stray dogs and I wish I could get all of  them home and give them a  healthy life like my Pugs.

D&P: How concerned are you about your pet animals? Do they form an integral part of your life? Do you always have time for them?
Abhishek Swarup (Std 10, Pathways World School): I had my first pet in 2000, which was a Golden Retriever. In 2003, we got our second pet and that was just the beginning and today I have as many as 12 dogs. They are Boxer (Brindle), Labradors (Mr. Black and Mr. Brown), Cocker Spaniel
(Mr. Patch), Pug (Oscar), St. Bernard (Lord Saint),
Great Danes (Lord Alexander and Lord Napoleon), German Shepherds (Caesar and Kaiser) and Golden Retriever (Mr. Gold). I have gathered a lot of knowledge about their health and diet. My whole family loves them immensely.
We keep a track of their medical records and all of them are looked after properly with utmost care. They never let us feel lonely. When my mom is not there, they take care of me just like she would. Watching them basking in the sun or playing around with each other is so “cool” because the amount of love they generate is amazing. We love them to the core and ensure all their needs are met.
Pets tell me a way of life  and have made me a better person.

Crackers!!! Too noisy…for pets

It’s festival time and the most dreaded time for animals. If given a choice, all the animals, mainly dogs and horses, would like to migrate out of India during this time. Dr. Milind Hatekar gives some guidelines to help your pets through difficult time.

Festivals are so often

celebrated with crackers and loud speakers without considering what animals go through. Dogs are most sensitive to sounds at frequencies from 500 Hz to 16 kHz as compared to human hearing 1000- 5000 cycles per second. Just to simplify, dogs are 40 times more sensitive to sounds than human hearing. So if a small cracker is lit in front of a dog, you can imagine how bad can that be for his hearing. Being so sensitive to different types of sounds, they can sense the geologic activity of earth even before the earthquake actually happens.

Effect of crackers on pet behaviour

High resonant sound causes mental depression and fear in animals. A change in mental behaviour is seen in dogs and less seen in cats. Dogs tend to hide in corner or go under the bed and may get aggressive when approached by the owner. Some pets seek shelter in arms of owner and exhibit over-friendliness due to feeling of insecurity. Non-stop shivering is one of the signs of fear. Dogs kept outside the house have a tough time in dealing with cracker-induced anxiety; they initially will hide in bushes or in kennel. Once the fear is over, they will start barking continuously and start chasing moving vehicles.

Some guidelines to help pets

De-sensitising

Dogs trained by police and army are initially exposed to low frequency noises, right from the puppyhood and are gradually exposed to sound at high frequency of gun fire and explosions. This shows a marked difference in level of behaviour in dogs, they get de-sensitised and do not fear explosions. Dogs staying near an airport also show similar behaviour. Continuous exposure to aircraft noises does not make any difference in behaviour and such dogs do not go in mental depression when crackers burst. So if you stay in area where noisy crackers can’t be avoided, start working from puppyhood or gradually introduce your pet to low frequency taped noisy sounds.

Pre-festival preparations

If your pet is claustrophobic, then one should make extra arrangements to lessen down sufferings of pets. Choose a room that is calm and quite in the house as a temporary house for your pet, mainly in the evenings. Visit his room frequently and convince the pet that you are around and give chews and toys of his choice. Best is to make a sound-proof kennel if your dog is housed outside. If you have a farmhouse away from city, it will be a heaven for your pet.

Educating children

Audio visual aid should be made and shown in schools to educate students not to burst noisy crackers as it adds to sound and air pollution. They have deleterious effect on human and animal hearing. Societies should request everybody to burst crackers in open ground as sound disseminates faster in open ground and does not produce reverberations/echo. Encourage children to buy crackers that make light showers.

Natural remedies

Bauch flower rescue remedies work near to perfect. Two drops should be applied on skin of forehead of the dog, and two drops can be given orally. Syrup called “Mentat“ can be used twice a day. Borax 3 X one tablet three times a day is an excellent homoeopathic remedy; though you need to start it in advance. Phosphorus 200X should be given as one dose on each noisy day. Arsenic album 30x will help to overcome loneliness.

Allopathic treatment

All medicines should be used under strict veterinary supervision. Acepromazine works best as it has prolonged sedative effect on dogs and should be used only in healthy dogs. Dogs with heart ailments should not be administered this drug. Anti-anxiety drugs used in human medicine also do work in combination.

Keeping these things in mind, you can make festivals a fun time for your pets as well.

(Dr. Hatekar is a practicing veterinary surgeon in Pune .He has been trained in Germany and France for small animal orthopedic surgery and also writes for The Times of India, Indian Express and for The Deccan Herald. He is member of World Small Animal Veterinary Association and can be contacted at?: 020-254263352/ 09823288110, e-mail: petaid1@yahoo.com)