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Choosing the right breeder: a key to bring home the perfect pooch

While the decision of adopting a dog and pledging responsibility of his wellbeing for the rest of his life is quite a testing matter; what can be equally challenging is the entire process of fi guring out just where to adopt one from. During the course of adopting a puppy from a breeder, one must not, in any way, encourage or give support to a cruel, illegal and inhuman breeding system which treats dogs as nothing more than mere money making products and produce them by the dozens for maximum profi t. Not only does the physical health of dogs suffer severely in these ‘puppy mills’, but also their psychological health in addition gets bruised and dented.

So, if you’ve decided its time to bring home a pooch and welcome a new member into your family, here are 10 guidelines to help you head toward the right place for adoption:

Know a puppy-mill when you see one

Puppy-mills are places where female dogs are bred repeatedly without any concern for their pups’ health and overall wellbeing. The dogs and pups in these areas look neglected and unhealthy and will commonly carry a lazy, depressed and tired physical demeanor.

Count on recommendations

Do your homework beforehand, when you take recommendations of a reliable veterinarian, a pet shop of repute or a kennel club.

Always ask to see the mother

An ethical and caring breeder will happily and readily have you meet the mother of the puppies. According to veterinary experts, a mother dog should be at least 18 – 20 months old before she is made to deliver her fi rst litter. It is therefore important to ask the breeder the age of the mother before deciding to take one of her cute little pups. If the mother is old enough to be bred, check to see if she looks healthy, happy and active. If you doubt whether the dog shown to you is in fact the mother and not some random healthy dog that is made to pose as the mother, observing the interaction between the pups and the dog should help you out.

Take a tour of the breeding facility

At visiting a dog kennel or individual breeder, always ask to see the breeding area and facility and check for hygienic surroundings, proper housing, adequate food and clean water as well as suffi cient free space for the dogs and pups to play and move about. Unless you are satisfi ed with the conditions in which the dogs and pups are kept and bred, do not adopt from that breeder.

Check for signs of physical health

At your own level, you can check that the dogs and pups have clear skin, a tidy coat and clear eyes and ears. Additionally, make sure that they are out-going and playful, since a dejected, lazy, unhappy and worn-out conduct can be signs of various forms of physical illnesses. Reputed and caring breeders in fact will usually have the pups duly vaccinated and de-wormed before their sale and will readily present their medical records before you. A good breeder if asked will also tell you of the veterinarian doctor looking into these pups’ medical check-ups and will readily give you his or her contact information for further cross-examination.

Check for signs of mental health

Try to gauge the behavioral traits and temperament of the dogs as well as the pups housed in a breeding centre. While some of them might be lively and energetic, others might be reserved or shy. But in general, all of them will show clear signs of a distinct personality trait which will help you to judge their mental soundness and emotional stability. If in case the dogs show signs of being extra aggressive or abnormally timid, there is reason for you to doubt the quality of care being given to them. This, since in the absence of basic social, emotional and health needs being fulfi lled, dogs tend to demonstrate abnormal behavioural traits and a disturbed psyche.

Ask the breeder a lot of questions

A good breeder will be able to aptly answer all your questions regarding the breed, its healthcare needs as well as its social and emotional needs. Reactions and responses to such questions would help you distinguish between a cold hearted businessman and a genuine dog lover. A good breeder would also, in addition, be willing to openly discuss with you details of the breeding facility run by him or her. Amongst the questions you must ask breeders, the more important ones include: How many different breeds of dogs do they breed? How many litters of each breed do they have each year? And at what age do they breed their dogs?

Trust a questioning and probing breeder

If you come across a breeder who is hesitant in giving away a pup to you for adoption and shows signs of doubting your abilities as a responsible pet owner; you can be confident about being at the right place. A genuine breeder will always be sure about the parenting skills of a prospective owner and will throw at you question after question about your general lifestyle, previously owned pets, members in the family, your knowledge of pet care as well as your opinions on pet adoption. Such breeders would hang on to the litter for as long as they cannot fi nd a loving and caring home for the puppies. So, don’t be surprised even if the breeder tries to talk you out of taking one of the pups.

Consider the age of the pup before adopting one

Ideally, a pup should not be adopted before he is 7 to 8 weeks old. There are in fact some states in the world where it is illegal to sell pups before they are at least 8 weeks old. It is during this time that the pup goes through one of his most important stages of socialization, wherein he learns a lot about behaviour and communication from his parents and siblings. A good breeder therefore will never separate a pup from his family before he is at least 7 weeks old.

Observe the breeder’s relationship with his dogs

The way a breeder interacts with his dogs and similarly, the manner in which the dogs respond to their owner, can speak volumes about the genuineness of the breeder. If a breeder is in fact emotionally attached to the animals and concerned about their well being, it will come across well through his or her interaction with the mothers and the pups while he or she introduces them to you. In the same way, dogs will openly show their affection and fondness when approached by the breeder by ways of wagging their tails, playing or licking the breeder’s hands. All these signs only point out to a healthy relationship between the breeder and his dogs, wherein all the basic needs of the dogs are being taken good care of by the breeder.

If however on the other hand, the dogs look unusually scared and try to avoid contact or interaction with humans, there is all the reason for you to be suspicious about the breeder’s actions towards the dogs as well as the care taking facilities of the breeding centre. On the whole, a responsible and genuine dog breeder will take upon himself: (a) the provision of quality health care to the dogs and their pups, (b) the moral obligation of not breeding dogs too often, and (c) the search of a loving home for all of their pups. And it is these values and qualities that you must go out looking for in a breeder. And when during your course of adoption you do come across those careless, insensitive and money-minded breeders who are more concerned about their profi t than the well being of their dogs, as a responsible animal welfare supporter, make sure to report such unhealthy and sloppy breeding centers to the local SPCA (Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals) or to a reliable animal welfare NGO.

– by Manta Sidhu

Making your home a safe haven for your pooch

Pooches are curious and love to taste everything. Hence, it is very important to stash away some of the common household items, which may contain toxic substances and harm your dog.

You are responsible for your dog’s safety and to do this, just crouch on the fl oor and see the potential threats for him. To make it easier for you, here’s a list of potential hazards:Heavy objects: Do not store heavy objects like large television sets on furniture that is very light. Keep solid furniture near wall sockets which are not in use and keep all your electric equipment out of the reach of your dog.Electrical chords: Always keep away electrical cords behind furniture or secure them behind a baseboard so that your curious dog doesn’t accidentally start playing with them. See that there are no electric wires trailing on the floor, teach your dog not to touch or chew them.

Sharp objects: Always remember to keep knives and other sharp objects inside the drawer or a kitchen cabinet.

Pesticides/cleaning products: The daily household items that we use like pesticides and cleaning products, should be stored in an area that the dog never enters. A locking cabinet is a good place.

Small objects: Remove from your dogs reach coins, safety pins and needles because a dog can swallow them and choke himself.

Other small objects: Keep all poisons locked; besides you should lock in the cupboard washing soda, shoe polish, ink, match sticks etc as they contain highly toxic substances which can harm the health of your dog.

Household plants: Many household plants are highly dangerous for dogs; special mention should be made of ferns, aloe vera and ivy plants.

Mouthwash: Mouth wash contains boric acid, which is dangerous for a dog, keep it closed in your bathroom cabinet.

Mothballs: Mothballs are also highly dangerous for dogs.

Batteries: Batteries of all types are a potential danger to your pet. Keep them under lock and key, when not in use.

Bleach: Keep all bleaching products, nicely and securely in your kitchen cabinet as they are very toxic if ingested by a dog.

Fertilizers: Fertilizers are also harmful to your dog. Be careful and do not allow your dog to lick any fertilizer, which is spilled. If ingested, it can cause poisoning.

Chocolates: Chocolates and cocoa contain a substance called bromine, which is very harmful to dog’s health.

Dustbins: Keep your dustbin in a safe place, many things you throw in the dustbin can otherwise be common household items but these can prove dangerous to your dog, if he eats or chews them.

When to call the vet? If you notice that your pet has ingested any items above, immediately take the harmful substance away from your pet and call your veterinarian. Give all information correctly about the nature and quantity of the ingested product. If there’s a need, immediately rush your precious one to the vet. As they say, prevention is always better than cure, so do puppy-proof your home.

Dog Breed Profile

Bow! Pawfect Pomeranian pooch

Bow! Pawfect Pomeranian pooch

Cute ‘n’ cuddly…Pomeranians – Poms as we lovingly call them, are one of the most popular doggie breeds around the world. Always keeping their sunny side up, they are quintessential sweetheart pooches. These happy-go-lucky doggies are tender yet tough… dainty yet daring…freewheeling yet alert. Woof! Woof! Let’s explore more about these angelic and ever-cherubic pooches.

The Pomeranian is a natural charmer…he enjoys the human companionship the most. Being loved and Dog trainingpampered all the time…is any Pom’s dream. They are always active and playful…with loads of affection and faithfulness. Their typical ‘PowderPuff’ looks make them ideal pets at home. They had a glorious past of sharing their lives with who’s who of myriad fields. These Poms were proudly owned by Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Mozart, Martin Luther, etc. If that was past, present is also equally glorious, Paris Hilton’s pet Pom is always dressed to match her hot-mom and Nicole Richie has named her Pomeranian – Foxxy Cleopatra (Austin Powers).

Pomeranian prince – An origin tale

The ‘Pomerania’ – a place on the south coast of the Baltic Sea, divided between Germany in the west and Poland in the east, is the place, where these furryfriends were developed in the 8th century. In the last decade of 18th century, they reached England and enjoyed imperial opulence as pets of Queen Victoria…and later Queen herself christened them as Pomeranians, in honour of their homeland. Queen Charlotte and Queen Victoria made them popular as noble pets. At that time, this breed was much bigger than what we have today. After getting recognized by American Kennel Club in 1900, breeders successfully reduced their size to give them remarkable ‘PowderPuff’ appearance.

Cherubic charmers – The general appearance

The Poms are small dogs with short neck and small feet. They stand about 7 to 8 inches tall and weigh from 3 to 7 pounds. They have got wedge-shaped head with little ears…always alert, and short and fine muzzle. The almond shaped eyes with oh-socute looks always make pets lovers go weak in the knees. The tail is characteristic of the breed, which is turned over the back and carried flat, set high. In newborns, tail is not developed or spread out…but within a couple of months, the tail grows to Pom’s back. The neck is short with its base set well into the shoulders to allow the head to be carried high. The back is short with level top line. The body is compact and well ribbed. He is medium boned and the lengths of his legs are in proportion to a well-balanced frame. The forelegs are straight and parallel to each other. He stands well up on his toes. The angulation of the hindquarters balances that of the forequarters. The buttocks are well behind the set of the tail. The thighs are moderately muzzled with stifles that are moderately bent and clearly defined.

The Pomeranian has soft and fluffy fur coat with coarse undercoat. The outer coat is soft and furry, where as inner coat is long, straight and coarse. The long and dense fur around the neck adds more to their beauty, by forming a frill. The coat colour can be of various shades, which include white, black, brown, chocolate, red, orange, cream, sable, light or dark blue. Moreover, they can also be parti-colour, with several hues of happiness. Despite long-furry looks, actually this is a muscular breed, which is hidden under the attractive fur-coat. The most popular colours for Pomeranians are orange in various shades ranging from light to dark.

Watchful woofs – The demeanour details

Pomeranians are any pooch lover’s delight… they are active, intelligent, courageous, loyal, lively, spunky, curious, alert…Woof! they are just the best companions. The friendly and outgoing behaviour of Poms is one of their best qualities. They want attention and love all the time. They just love to sit in the lap, and get petted…hence also known as lap dogs. Their intelligence and reasoning powers are almost uncanny and they can seem to understand your every word. One Pomeranian is fun but more than one and the fun is multiplied many times over. They get along well with kids and family members, if they are trained well. Otherwise, they need supervision, while socializing, especially with little kids. They can be easily trained and are fast learners. As they say ‘sooner the better,’ if we start training them early, we will get one of the most obedient and well-behaved pooch. They are very confident and commanding too. They love to walk and roam…with high energy levels, one will hardly find them lazing around. As they like to exercise less, they are the perfect apartment pets…and live well in both, an apartment as well as an open house.

Pomeranians are highly suspicious of strangers and unknown noises…and become alert on sensing any such things. So, they are good watchdogs; moreover, they have a shriek bark, which adds to their guarding capabilities. “Pomeranians have on outgoing bouncy personality with a big dog attitude. They are intelligent and always eager to please,” added G Sudheer of VICK VIN POMS kennel.

Well-favoured paws – A grooming ‘n’ care guide

As Poms have double coat, they need to be brushed daily, which is required to avoid matting and tangling. This breed sheds more (once or twice a year), so harsh combing must be avoided. And coat should be trimmed regularly. For Pomeranians, we will not recommend frequent baths, as it can damage the skin and fur by removing essential oils from the body. Harsh shampoo also causes dandruff and fur loss.

The eye, nail and dental care are extensively required for this breed. It is advisable to trim the nails weekly, whereas teeth and eyes need daily care. The eyes should be cleaned properly with water daily. In addition to grooming, excellent dental care is most important for them. They are prone to tooth loss; so, regular dental care is must. Dry food is helpful in keeping teeth and gums healthy.

Pom puppy – The training tips

Poms look highly cute and cuddly as pups, but bringing them up is an uphill task. Once, you have Pom pup at home, you need to bear with excessive barking…as there’s a noisy unrest all the time, When you are caring for your Pomeranian puppy…and he barks, never shout at them… simply say “NO!”…This is the easiest way you can train him to avoid excessive barking. “Poms at young age are little noisy, but as they grow, they listen to their parent. And at the same time, they are very alert and good watch dog at your home,” assured Sudheer.

Our loving Pomeranians are very popular and sought after breed for their many fine personality attributes and unmatched looks coupled with royale gait. To pet a Pom is a great experience…no words can express that exuberance. Here’s wishing happy Pom parenting.

(With inputs from G. Sudheer Raju, who runs VICK VIN POMS Kennel, registered by Kennel Club Of India. He started keeping Poms at the age of 10 and today his kennel produces the best Pomeranians. )

Pooch fracture management

Like kids, naughty pooches are also prone to accidents. They need vigilance, all time; a small negligence can end up in a troublesome situation, viz bone fracture or sprain. God forbid! But if it occurs, one needs to have ample information and knowledge to handle the situation tactfully. Here’s a complete overview about the fracture management for pets. Pets have been an integral part of our society since time immemorial. Pets at home are wonderful companions, great stress busters and provide unsolicited love and affection. Keeping pets has gained immense popularity in the last decade. Hence, there has been an increased demand for advanced and specialized health care especially in the field of ‘Small Animal Orthopedics and Neurology.’

Numerous pets have been rendered lame or paraplegic for their entire lifetime either due to lack of expertise or facilities in this field. Compassionate pet owners are most eager to consult with specialists in this field to obtain the best possible treatment options for their ailing pets. Specialized small animal orthopedics and neurology services have now become a priority for pet owners.

Milestones… so far

Primary aim of fracture treatment is to restore anatomical shape of the fractured bone and to restore the function of the affected limb. Until the early fifties, treatment of fractures in pet animals was confined mainly to casts and splints, which did not prove successful in complex fractures, and resulted in fracture disease. Fracture disease is characterized by non-union/mal-union of fractures, osteoporosis, joint stiffness, limb deformity, arthritis and muscle wasting. In 1958, a study group of Swiss surgeons formed ‘The Association For The Study of Internal Fixation’ (AO/ASIF) and developed new techniques, devices and implants for treatment of fractures. The philosophy of the organization was “Life is movement-movement is life”. The aim of the AO technique is a rapid return to full function of the affected leg.

In the late sixties, veterinarians adapted the principles of the internal fixation group, made modifications better suited to the needs of animals, carried out research, developed new and versatile equipment and implants to produce maximal stability of fracture with minimal reaction to facilitate early and pain free return to full limb function and permitting full range of motion of the joints. The benefits of this technique include early return of normal limb function compared to conservative therapy; little or no pain at the fractured site compared to conservative therapy; and no limb deformity or lameness compared to conservative therapy.

The technique used for fracture management was based on the configuration of the fracture and the type of forces that needed to be counteracted to promote stability. The age temperament, health status of animal and owner compliance influence decisions on fracture management.

Medical boons for pooches

Dynamic compression plate (DCP): The dynamic compression plate developed by the association for the study of internal fixation probably represents one of the most innovative developments in orthopedic surgery in the last two decades (British Small Animal Veterinary Association). Combining the plate with an intra-medullary pin (placing a pin through the bone) increases the strength of the plate multifold. Specially devised ‘T’ plates are used to manage distal radial fractures (fractures of the end of radius bone), as they do not heal easily. External fixators (Ex-Fix) : Ex-Fix and intra-medullary pins are used in combination for management of open infected shaft fractures/comminuted fractures (broken into many pieces).

The ‘hanging limb method’ and the OBDNT (open but do not touch procedure) technique of external fixator application for fracture fixation fulfill the principles of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery and promotes biologic fracture healing. External fixators with stainless steel connecting rods and clamps (dogs weighing > 15 kg) or locally available epoxy (dogs weighing <15kg) as connecting column have been used with success. Healing times were reduced and complications were minimized.

A “tie-in” procedure combining the intramedullary pin and external fixator for management of complicated fractures of long bones.

The advantages of the External Fixators system include

  • Closed or minimally invasive open application.
  • Fracture alignment can be adjusted during or after surgery.
  • Fixation can be removed without performing major surgery.
  • Relatively affordable with many reusable components.
  • Indicated for highly comminuted shaft fractures, open infected fractures mandibular fractures, bone deformities.

Other useful techniques include?:

  • Tension band wiring technique for avulsion fractures of olecranon process of ulna, tibial tuberosity and calcaneus (fractures caused by pull of the muscles in the opposite direction).
  • Combination of intramedullary pin and cerclage wiring (when the length of the fracture exceeded twice the diameter of bone) in fractures of long bones.
  • Intramedullary pinning in combination with cross pinning for supra condylar (fractures occurring near the end) fractures of femur.

Curing common orthopedic disorders

  • Femoral head and neck ostectomy (removal of the head and neck of femur bone) and placement of a muscle flap in the defect has been used successfully as a salvage procedure in the management of painful chronic osteoarthritis of the hip joints which occur in severe cases of hip dysplasia. Clinical studies indicate that this procedure provides early and pain free weight bearing on operated limb and improved quality of life of the animal.
  • Nutritional bone disorders have been diagnosed early using biochemical and radiological evaluation and successfully managed. Imbalance in nutrition and overzealous supplementation with calcium, especially in rapidly growing giant breeds, is the primary reason.
  • Growth deformities in dogs (bow legs) have been successfully managed with removing a portion of the ulna bone and using a fat graft or by performing corrective bone surgeries using a bone plate or an external fixator system.
  • Correction of patellar luxation in dogs (knock knees) have been performed successfully.

(Dr Ayyappan with over 16 years of experience is a PhD and Associate Professor in veterinary surgery from Madras Veterinary College. He did a Clinical Postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, USA (2000-02). He specializes in small animal orthopedic surgery and neurology. He also completed the basic, advanced and special training in small animal orthopedic surgery at AO-International, Davos, Switzerland (1994,1995 and 1999). He can be contacted at: 9841249129/ 26475988; or email: jujups61@hotmail.com)

Tips to help your pooch overcome fear of noice

With Diwali just around the corner, everybody is looking forward to the celebrations and festivities. Happiness can be seen everywhere but is it the same for your dog as well? Does your loving canine also enjoy the festivals just like you or does it scare him or make him frantic? Diwali is the time to celebrate and it should be the same for your dog. But, the loud noises of the firecrackers make him scared and anxious. Last year, on Diwali, my dog Jimmi was shivering and whimpering throughout the night. We tried our best to calm her with soothing words and gentle patting, to no avail. However hard we tried to feed her, she did not touch food. While it was a happy time for us, it was really sad to see her suffering. This is more or less the same for all canines.

Here are a few tips to help your canine combat fear of noise:

  • Create a safe place for your dog where he can be shielded from the frightening sound. Associate that space with other good things like treats, food, etc.
  • Try to distract him by engaging him in another activity that captures his attention.
  • Ask your vet for medication to help reduce his anxiety level.
  • Before Diwali time, condition your dog to respond to noise in a non-fearful way. This can be done by using a tape with firecracker noise on it. Play the tape at low volume and give your dog a treat or play with him. Gradually increase the volume and treat him.
  • If the dog shows aggressive behaviour, put him on leash for the time there are noises outside.
  • Request your neighbours and friends not to light crackers which make loud noise.
  • Last but not the least, your kind words, your soothing tone and gentle touch will help him go through any nightmare.

Off leash exercise for your pooch

Freedom to roam and sniff around is every dog’s birthright and dream. Very often, we as owners, ignore the importance of freedom of our canine friends. Pooja Sathe shows how to teach your dog the off leash control. Off leash exercise should be an important part of the dog’s daily routine from an early age. This will help the puppy to enjoy his freedom. Also, off leash game of ‘fetching a ball’ and a good run helps to mentally and physically stimulate the pup, which is a must for every dog.

Some people are apprehensive about keeping their pets off leash. Some of their common excuses are:

Dog will run away: People often complain that since their dogs get attracted to other dogs, people walking by, or cats, besides moving objects such as vehicles or balls, they are likely to run after them and get into problems. This mainly happens because the dog is never given a chance to explore his surroundings off leash and is not trained not to chase things or moving objects. Chase behaviour: Most people complain that once off leash, their dogs chase cats, kids and other moving objects. Chasing instinct is an inborn trait in most of the dogs and is high in some. You should identify the objects your dog likes to chase and then train him not to chase them accordingly.

Dog will jump on other people: If the dog is generally friendly, he might want to go towards people and due to excitement, he might even jump over them. This happens due to lack of socialisation during his puppyhood.

Dog will never return when called: Some people are not confident that their dog will return to them, when called once off leash. This happens because initially when the dog does come back, most of us try to catch him by his neck/collar and put him back on the leash. This teaches the dog that if he goes back, he will be put on the leash and taken back home, and so he keeps staying away. But, off leash control can be taught to your dog. Here are the steps to teach the dog off leash control:

  • Start training the dog for off leash control at an early age. You can start this game in your building compound, or terrace or any other safe place, before letting your dog off leash in a big ground or on the beach.
  • In the beginning, attach a long leash (approx 10/12 feet) to the dog, and let him drag it with him.
  • Do not hold on to the leash all the time but keep a timely check on the dog. You can always get hold of the leash in case of emergency.
  • Always carry some tasty treats or the dog’s favourite toys to praise him when he comes back. In beginning, you should praise your dog for every successful recall.
  • Your body language and tone of voice should always be happy and encouraging, when calling the dog back.
  • Never try to grab your dog’s collar when he comes back, just because you feel that he will run away again.
  • Always leave your dog off leash in a safe place and not on the roads or while crossing the roads etc. Always keep an eye on the dog, when he is off leash.
  • In case the dog does not come back, do not run behind him or scold him when you catch him. This will only make the dog run away again. On such occasion, you can run in the opposite direction showing him the treats and toys in your hand so as to get his attention.
  • You have to make yourself the most interesting thing for your dog, only this will make the dog come back to you.
  • Train your dog in different possible places before trusting him completely to go off leash. In a new place, you can always keep him on long leash initially.
  • Last but very important, always walk your dog on leash in a particular area, and allow him to sniff around to his satisfaction, before you let him off leash.

(Pooja Sathe is trained under Northern Centre for Canine Behaviour and Training, UK. She can be contacted at poojasathe11@hotmail.com, Ph: +91-9820596903, 022-24165358 – Mumbai.)

Keeping your pooch warm in winters

For most pet lovers trying to envisage a moment of absolute contentment, the image of sitting in the wintry sunshine with their pet animal in their lap would probably come forth unbidden. For any pet lover, the word “warm cuddle” would evince the response “my pet” as the season for warm cuddles with our furry friends is round the corner. It seems that by some divine design our dogs and cats have been specially attired for this season. But nothing puts a bigger dampener on this season of cheer than a bout of cold, cough and sneezes. Some of us have an unfortunate tendency of believing that our pets don’t succumb to the vagaries of winter as easily as we do. The truth is that they need as much care to be able to return that warm cuddle.

Following is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you give your pets the cold weather care they deserve.

  • Pups are unable to handle extreme weather conditions so make sure they are always well covered. Pay special attention at night time as pups may fall asleep on the bare floor and catch a bad chill. A warm bedding with a cosy blanket should suffice. Its better to serve warm food. Avoid giving cold water, curd, ice creams etc. A warm water sponge is a better alternative to bathing.
  • All the vaccinations and deworming should be up to date as viruses thrive at this time of the year.
  • A change of season is the time when the physiological apparatus of the body is under duress and leads to a lowered resistance against common diseases. So make sure the pet is well nourished. Switching to a commercial dry dog food will make things simpler. The food should be calorie rich to generate enough energy to cope with the cold especially so for dogs living at higher altitudes. An increase in fats and proteins is also recommended.
  • Protect your pet with woollen clothes as per the individual requirement. In places where it snows, the pet should be kept indoors to avoid unnecessary exposure and to prevent snow related accidents. Specially designed footwear for dog paws should be used when taking out for walks to prevent frostbite.
  • Towel or blow-dry your dog if he gets wet from rain or snow. Pay special attention to paws. Vaseline can be used to remedy dry paws, muzzle and small cracks/cuts.
  • Outdoor dogs need extra protection in the form of an elevated, well-covered shelter to protect against the cold breeze. Extreme cold conditions warrant the use of heaters equipped with humidifiers.
  • Change walk timings to later in the morning and earlier in the evening. Apart from providing them with sunlight it will also keep them away from chilly part of the day.
  • Do not clip your pet’s hair at this time of the year as it provides them with natural insulation. Most dogs shed their summer coats before getting a new winter coat. Dry skin is common in indoor pets probably because of use of heaters leading to low humidity. To remedy this frequent brushing and providing them with hair care supplements is advised.
  • Ideally bring down the bathing frequency to once in 2 months.
  • Dogs are just as likely to get dehydrated in winters as in summers, so always provide them with fresh water.
  • People who have never experienced their pet having a cough might confuse it for retching/vomiting. A cough, if left untreated, may develop into pneumonia. There can also be heavy dripping from the nose or a thick nasal/ocular discharge. Causes might include a simple bacterial infection or an influenza virus in unvaccinated dogs.
  • Smog might trigger an attack in an asthmatic dog so be well prepared in advance with emergency medicines. Allergies are common with the change in season and can simply be remedied with anti-allergy drugs.
  • Vomiting and loose motions could be a simple reaction to the season change or a bacterial infection. It can also indicate the presence of deadly virus such as canine parvovirus or canine distemper. Either ways do not delay the treatment.
  • Old dogs should be showered with the kind of care and attention that we would give to our grandparents or any other old person for that matter. Old age can inflict several problems like arthritis, lowered immunity to respiratory infections, heart ailments, etc. The winter cold can exacerbate any such existing problem. If your dog has trouble getting up, sitting down, is limping or gets stiff after exercise, these could be the initial warning signs of osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative joint disease and appropriate medication for pain relief should be provided. Supplements like cod liver oil have proven to be helpful.

So here’s wishing all the pets a healthy, warm and a cheery winter.

(Dr. Kamaldeep Chaggar started working with animals at the age of 13 at her father’s clinic. She  did her B.V.Sc & A.H. from P.A.U. Ludhiana. After graduating, she moved to London to further enhance her veterinary skills. For the past 6 years, in partnership with her vet brother Dr R.S. Chaggar, she has been operating from their three privately owned practices in South Delhi. Call her at : 9811389089.)

Protecting your pooch from diseases

Puppies are hard to resist. Once you have got your new pooch home, it is vital to take care of his health-related issues. Dr. Deepa Katyal gives an overview of these important issues.

Protecting your puppy:

Love’s not enough. Your puppy needs a preventive health care program, too. Every new puppy faces a variety of parasites and infectious organisms as it grows. Some can pose a threat to humans too, so it’s important to take your puppy to your veterinarian as soon as you can. That way, your veterinarian may get your puppy started on a preventive health care plan that’s the foundation for a long, healthy life – and your family can enjoy your new member worry free. Here are some puppy health care topics you should discuss with your veterinarian.

Vaccination schedule:

Since puppies are curious and like to explore everything, they’re good candidates for exposure to infection. But your veterinarian can help protect them against a number of infectious organisms through a regular vaccination program. A puppy typically receives its first vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks of age, and vaccinations will continue throughout the dog’s life. Your veterinarian will set up your puppy’s vaccination schedule. In fact, taking your dog to “get his shots” on a regular basis is one of the easiest, most important ways you can protect your pet’s good health, because it also ensures that your veterinarian has the chance to examine your dog regularly to detect any problems before they become serious threats. In most cases, one should vaccinate for the following diseases: Rabies, Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Hepatitis Virus, Leptospirosis, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Parainfluenza Virus and Bordetella.

Rabies: a fatal disease

Rabies is a generally fatal viral disease that affects the central nervous system and can infect all warm-blooded animals. The disease is zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted to humans bitten by an infected animal. People exposed to rabies must undergo an immunisation regime. Canine Parvovirus (Parvo): an intestinal virus Parvo is an acute, potentially fatal disease of the gastrointestinal tract and, less commonly, the heart muscle. Although dogs of all ages are susceptible, puppies are more at risk. Signs include vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, fever and dehydration. Since these symptoms can indicate other diseases as well, the vet will confirm a diagnosis of parvoviral infection by examining the faeces.

Distemper:

Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects a puppy’s skin, respiratory system, intestines, and brain and can cause transient fever, discharge from the nose and eyes, loss of appetite, hardening of footpads, nervous disorders and even death. It is not transmitted to people. Distemper is spread via tiny droplets in a dog’s breath and is so contagious among dogs that the disease is sometimes called the “Canine Plague.” Young puppies are at greatest risk of contracting distemper, though all unvaccinated dogs and dogs with suppressed immune systems are at risk.

Canine Coronavirus:

In most cases, Canine Coronavirus (CCV) is transmitted when dogs or puppies ingest the disease-causing organism following direct contact with infected animals or their faeces. Dogs of all ages and breeds are susceptible. CCV infection can range from very mild and barely noticeable to serious. Dogs infected with CCV may refuse food, seem lethargic, become dehydrated, and suffer from sudden-onset diarrhoea that can last from ten days to several weeks. CCV can occur at the same time as canine parvovirus, intensifying the dog’s illness and even causing death in puppies.

Internal parasites:

In addition to intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms, puppies are also vulnerable to picking up whipworms, tapeworms and heartworms. Roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm infestations are prevented by once-monthly medication called Interceptor, which is also an excellent medication for prevention of infections with heartworms. Heartworm disease is almost always fatal and yet highly preventable. Tapeworms are prevented by preventing flea infestations.

Deworming:

Most puppies are born with worms (lactogenic route of transmission) and therefore should be dewormed by your veterinarian. Faecal examination is the microscopic examination of stools for parasites and may be done to confirm if there are worms or determine which worms are present. Puppies can pick up intestinal parasites from their environment. They can also get roundworms and hookworms from their mother before birth. For this reason – and because humans can potentially develop serious problems if exposed to immature forms of roundworm or hookworms – routine deworming all puppies several times between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks is important. A potbellied appearance of the abdomen is also an indication of worm overload.

External parasites:

The most common external parasites we encounter are fleas, with ticks being common in late winter/spring/early summer. There are a variety of flea control products available which are effective and safe depending on your puppy’s age. Flea control is a very complicated process, it is therefore best to consult a qualified veterinarian to tackle this problem. Ticks too are cause of health issues in canines as are responsible for various blood infection such as Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Hepatozoonoses etc (Tick fever), it is therefore mandatory to pay necessary attention to pups with heavy infestation, loads of safe products including powders, sprays, drop on as well as deticking shampoos are available since most of them can cause toxicity, use of any deticking product should be used after veterinary consultation. It has been observed that ayurvedic or herbal products too viz. neem oil or leaf extract containing products are gaining popularity as a deticking agent.

Nutrition:

The energy requirements of a puppy, based on body weight, is nearly double that of an adult. The number of calories a 2-month-old puppy needs varies with his size, activity level and weight. Approximate calorie requirements for the different breed sizes are: 225 for toys; 400 for small breeds; 530 for medium; 990 for large; and 1220 for giant breed dogs. There is no set formula for how much to feed a puppy. Consider your pup’s age, weight, and activity level when deciding how much to feed. Weigh your puppy each week. As your puppy ages and his size increases, he will need more food each day. More active pups may burn more calories and require more food. The opposite is true for less active pups. Every brand of food has different nutrients, caloric densities and feeding recommendations. (Dr. Deepa Katyal, MVSc (Mumbai), MVSt (Australia) is a veterinary practitioner from Chembur, Mumbai. She is the CEO of K-9 Klub for dog lovers. She can be contacted at 9819742557.)