Female vs Male : Is love gender specific?

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

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

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

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

What the notions are?

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

The facts…

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

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

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

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

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

Advice to pet parents…

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

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

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

puppy care

Happy ‘n’ healthy

When we bring home a pup… we are bringing home a friend, a companion, a reliable and trustworthy member of the family. Hence, finding a healthy pup is important. Here are a few insights for adopting a healthy puppy.

Case files…

It’s been years since young Scamp died on a gloomy day, but the memory of the Spaniel Cocker pup withpuppy care Sharmila and her family is still fresh. Scamp was just two months, in a few days, the young pup suffered from a kind of fever which subsided immediately after medication. But his ailment continued as it was detected as canine parvovirus. Scamp succumbed to the dreaded disease, leaving everyone including Sharmila’s daughter Shaynaya who was just seven years old then, into unbearable grief. “I couldn’t bear the sorrow that my daughter was into when Scamp passed away so untimely,” shared Sharmila. After one year, two new tiny balls of fur came into Sharmila’s family, today the duo have become full grown adults named Jack (Golden Retriever) and Cody (Spaniel Cocker).

Similar views are shared by Anjali Kumar from Faridabad who never believed that their Spaniel Cocker would succumb to illness. “It was sad and I still feel the pain of losing my little angel who was so adorable,” said Anjali. The little one developed a kind of cold for a few days. The vet tried his best to save him, but destiny had predestined something else! “I was totally dumfounded,” recalled Anjali. She has just adopted another Spaniel Cocker and hopes everything will be fine.

Many pet parents, who have gone through these phases, know how painful it is to see the poor pup wilt away. What went wrong? Why did not these puppies bloom? It is either because the pup was too young for adoption or he was not healthy? Are these puppies from a puppy mill? Are their parents not vaccinated?…etc.

The right age to adopt puppies is around 6-12 weeks, as this is the period opuppy caref socialisation of the puppy. The best way to win the puppies or adult dog’s confidence is by brushing their coat regularly. Their emotional quotient and bonding with the pet parent increase with brushing.

Information from the breeder/pet shop…

  • The foremost thing will be to have a look at the parents as this will help you to know the temperament and size your pup may attain. You must ask for the parents’ pedigree and health card. The pedigree will help you to rule out some common genetic problems like hip dysplasia, dumbness and blindness. The growth of a puppy is a triangle with Genetics, Nutrition and Environment.
  • If the mother is vaccinated regularly, the pups will be protected against major diseases at least till eight weeks through maternal anti-bodies transferred to them transplacentally and through milk.
  • You should ask if the puppies were on mother’s milk which transfers a lot of anti-bodies to them.
  • The diet of the puppy is a must as it is recommended to continue the same diet and schedule for few days. The puppies need at least 3-7 days to adjust to a new diet. The changeover has to be in phased manner.
  • The date of birth will help you to decide the course of treatment, vaccination and training.
  • Do collect the pedigree certificate of the puppy.

Puppy is in good health…

  • The best indicator of good health will be his body weight, coat condition which are the mirror of health.

Puppy care at home…

  • Before you buy a puppy consult a vet to know the type of dog who suits your requirement. There are breeds specific for a particular purpose like watch dogs, friendly dogs, guide dogs…select the breed accordingly.
  • Make a list of things your puppy needs like food, bedding, bowl, comb, etc and buy them before hand.
  • Try to create an environment which is similar to the one which he was staying. This will reduce the separation anxiety.
  • You can pick a towel smeared with the mother odour which will boost the puppy.
  • Try to be at home for at least 4-7 days till the puppy adjusts to the change in routine.
  • If you have picked up a pup less than three weeks, you need to bottle feed and then stroke the private area to defecate and pass urine.

Meet the vet…

  • Please take an appointment before you pick up the pup.
  • He will check up if the pup is carrying any diseases mainly ecto and endo parasites.
  • He can check if he has any congenital problems viz. bite problems, cleft palate, undescended testicle, patellar luxation, cardiac murmurs, eye sight, hearing or any other breed predisposing diseases so that you can inform the breeder.

Health signs to look out for…

Fever, reluctant to eat, diarrhea, vomiting, nasal discharge, lethargic, not playing or responding to your call, frequent urination, constipation, abnormal coloured stools (black, mucus). Any of these or in combination can be an indicator of minor or major illness and needs a vet to check the puppy. Some puppies start retching if they have choked themselves. They start salivating profusely if they are bitten by insects or have licked some poison (especially after a medicated bath for ectoparasites). If they have chewed on a live wire they will be in a state of shock. The history is very important as the vet can diagnose at the earliest rather than depending on tests.

Canine parvo virus…

It’s basically a virus which targets and multiplies in fast multiplying cells which is the gastrointestinal tract. If the puppy is very young (less than three months), it can also target the heart as it is also a developing organ. As the mortality is very high it is best to prevent them by vaccinating the mother. The symptoms vary from high fever, dull, inappetance, vomiting, salivating, diarrhea which is foul smelling (rotten egg) with mucus and blood. One needs to take him to the vet as some bacterial infection can also cause same symptoms. Here history of mother’s vaccination will help in differential diagnosis. Now a days, we have kits to diagnose easily and quickly.
–Dr BV Srikanth,
Prakruthi Veterinary Hospital, Bengaluru

Before bringing the pup home…

Ensure the breeder should be genuine. It should not be puppy mill. The breeder should be able to tell you both the pros and cons of the breed. Right age for puppy to adopt is after 60 days of birth that is 8 weeks…till that they should get mother’s milk to increase immunity. Ask for vaccination of both parents and their overall health (if they have any problem like hip dysplasia or heart problem or any genetic disease), their deworming status and breed papers from the breeder or pet shop. When you approach puppy, he should be active and bright eyed. In male pup, see both testicles are there or not. A good breeder or rescue group will have no issue if you wish to have your vet to examine the animal before bringing him home.

At home…

The first two weeks of pup adoption are crucial. Common diseases in this period include gastroenteritis caused by virus, fever and skin problems like puppy mange. Sudden food change can trigger stomach upset; besides separation anxiety can also be seen.

The vaccine schedule for puppies is usually 6, 9 and 12 weeks with the first rabies booster being at 16 weeks. We can deworm regularly to avoid internal parasite infestation and dusting with mild medicated powder to help them getting rid of ticks, fleas and lice.

Till their vaccination course is complete, do not take them out for a stroll on road. There are test kits available to detect parvovirus and distemper virus infections which are non-invasive–your vet can advice you about the same.

–Dr Geeta Parab, MVSc,
Pluto Pet Clinic, Mumbai

Here’s how you can ensure that you are adopting a healthy puppy

–by Dr SP Gautam

The right age…

The right age of puppy for adoption is 30 to 45 days, however in exceptional cases, this can be extended up to 90 days.

First things first….

It is very important that the puppy is adopted from a reputed breeder or pet shop. Here’s a checklist for what to ask them:

  • Before adopting/buying a puppy from breeder/pet shop, see that the place from where we are picking up the puppy is genuine, reputed and reliable. Don’t buy from a stranger. It is better to buy a puppy from a registered kennel.
  • Insist on seeing the parents.
  • It is better if the puppy is registered with Kennel Club of India (KCI) or with any other reputed kennel club.
  • Obtain registration certificate from the seller. If he promises to supply it in a few days or week, then wait for the certificate.
  • If the age of puppy is more than 30 days, then ensure that he has been given the Parvo Vaccine shot. Ask for a certificate from a registered vet.
  • Enquire about the eating habits of the puppy, what kind of food is being given to the puppy and its frequency.
  • Also ensure that the puppy has been dewormed at the age of 15 to 20 days.
  • All vaccination and deworming records should be available.
  • Also ask about illness, if any.

Ensuring puppy is healthy…

Once you know the breeder or pet shop is genuine, look at the pups. Here’s how to find a healthy one:

  • A healthy pup will look attractive and active.
  • Ribs and pelvic point should not be prominent and skinny.
  • The buccal cavity/ oral cavity/mouth cavity of the pup should be pink.
  • There should not be any natural discharge from nostrils or eyes.
  • The ears should be clean pinkish in appearance from inside. There should be no discharge.
  • If possible, see the consistency of the stool, it should not be loose or watery.
  • The joints of legs should not be enlarged or swollen and legs should be almost straight.
  • Hair coat should give a lustrous look. Move your hand in the opposite direction of hair coat and look for any ectoparasites like ticks, etc.
  • Check if the puppy walks in a normal way… check for lameness or any other defect.
  • Put a little food before him, see if he eats or not.

Meet the parents…

Whether the puppy is registered or not, you must insist to see the parents of the puppy, as puppy will always acquire the characters from his parents. After seeing the parents, you become sure that the puppy which you are adopting shall grow as per his parents. If the mother is real, then definitely she will like to lick her puppy and simultaneously the puppy will also try to suck the nipples. In this way, you will be doubly sure about the genuineness of your puppy.

Meet the vet…

Once you have selected your bundle of joy, it is time to meet the vet.

  • Before taking a puppy home you must visit your nearest known vet.
  • Show him the puppy first and ask whether the puppy in question is true to his breed, healthy and is disease free.
  • Show him the papers you have collected from the breeder/shop, including the registration certificate, vaccination and deworming records.
  • Feeding schedule should be collected from the vet for that particular breed.
  • Ask about the tonics/medicines which are to be given.
  • Enquire about his bedding and clothing, especially if the weather is cool.
  • Your vet will advise you about vaccination and deworming schedule, follow it strictly.
  • Ask for the bathing and brushing/combing schedule as well.
  • Ask for the habits of natural calls and how to house-train him.

The first two weeks of adoption…

As expected, the first two weeks of adoption are crucial for you and the pup. Here are the common diseases/complications faced by young puppies during this time:

  • If the puppy is from a vaccinated mother, then the puppy generally does not get any contagious disease up to the age of four weeks.
  • If the mother is unvaccinated, then there are chances of getting Canine Parvo virus infection which is most common and fatal in puppy.
  • Digestive disorder due to infected food or over-feeding is also very common.
  • If the weather is cool and the puppy is not kept well protected, he may develop cold/temperature which decreases the immunity and further causes complications.
  • If the weather is warm and humid and puppy is not kept in a clean environment, he may develop tick infestation and skin infection on the body which may prove fatal.
  • Eating of foreign particles like chappal, clothes, papers, terracotta items, sand from lawn, etc are common problems if proper feeding and medicines are not given in time.
  • If your puppy starts vomiting or develops loose motions, consult your vet immediately.

Taking care…

We can protect the puppies from the common diseases in the early age by simple ways like:

  • Regular vaccination and deworming as per advise of your vet.
  • Regular and balanced food.
  • Protection from weather.
  • Maintenance of good hygiene.
  • Unless the vaccination schedule is completed, don’t let him mix with other puppies and keep away from stray dogs.

Health signs to look out for…

Here are some basic symptoms that show that puppy is suffering from something:

  • The pup is not eating
  • Loose/ watery/ bloody motion.
  • Vomiting.
  • Excessive salivation, dullness, laziness,
  • Not responding to your call.
  • Thickening of joints especially of legs, bending of leg bones.
  • Some discharge from eyes and ears.
  • Hair coat becomes rough.

If all these factors are kept in mind, puppy adoption will become easy and you would be blessed with a healthy and happy pup. Happy puppy parenting!

(Dr SP Gautam of Enn Kay Pet Clinic, Gurgaon is president of SPCA Gurgaon and member (Co-Opted) Animal Welfare Board of India).

“The right age for puppy adoption is 45 days after birth. It is very important to take the certificate and health status of the male and female dogs from the breeder or the pet shop. It is better to take your veterinarian along so that he can examine the puppy and help you select a healthy pup. Once the pup is home, rear him with affection and provide him hygienic food and water. Some of the common diseases faced by young puppies in the first two weeks of adoption include worm infestation, parvo, distemper and leptospirosis, etc but we can prevent these by vaccination and deworming. Watch out for poor appetite, vomiting, foul smelling diarrhea and the puppy being dull. For canine parvo virus, vet will examine the fecal material and do ELISA test. ”
–Dr M Chandrasekar,
Madras Veterinary College, Chennai

Pawfect family!

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family – except, of course, for the family dog. Here’s how to choose the pawfect dog for your family.

Before you choose a dog…

Bringing a new dog into your life is a major decision.

  • Be sure you are ready for a dog before you start the process.
  • Examine your current lifestyle and consider what adjustments you are willing to make for a dog.
  • Look at the needs of your family – especially if you have children or other pets.
  • Think about the ideal size, energy level and age of your new dog.
  • It is also essential that you understand the cost of the ownership.
  • Determine where to get your new dog.
  • Just remember that getting a dog requires a firm commitment to a responsible pet parenting.

If you have decided that the time is right, now it is time to figure out what type of dog is right for you.

Choosing the pawfect companion…

Here are some tips to help you choose the best dog for you and your family:

It’s all in the breed!

There are certain features in a breed which when studied can help you and your family choose a particular breed, for example, there are breeds like lap dogs, working dogs, excessive droolers, popular dogs (like Pugs, etc), odd-looking pets, etc…. The wise would go in for counselling in order to get the best suited pet.

Size: Some of you might want a little lap dog that you can carry around. While, some might have your heart set on a large or giant dog breed. If you cannot decide, then perhaps a medium sized dog is a good choice.

Also, remember that small dogs tend to be delicate and vulnerable. Being stepped on or mishandled can cause serious injury. Don’t forget that small dogs need training too! Some little dogs can develop ‘tough dog’ attitudes, seemingly to compensate for their small size. Be sure you are prepared for this possibility.

While, very arge dogs need more space to move around. Big, happy dogs with long, whip-like tails need ‘wagging space’ to avoid tail injury or damage to household objects. Training is also a key factor here. If you get a large or giant breed puppy who is allowed to act like a lap dog when young, he will grow up to walk all over you – literally!

Energy level: A dog’s activity level is often determined by breed, but it does not mean you can rely on breed alone to determine how energetic your dog could become. Every dog needs routine exercise, regardless of breed or size, so make sure you can able to provide this. If you know you cannot commit to more than two casual walks per day, then you will probably be better off with a lower energy dog, such as a Basset Hound. If you are looking for a dog who can be a jogging partner, consider a Lab.

Be willing to adjust the amount of exercise and attention you give your dog if necessary. A dog who is barking constantly, digging up your yard, destroying your home, or acting out in some other way is most likely in need of extra activities. Many behaviour issues are the result of excess energy. Do consult a veterinarian for the exercise needs also.

Grooming requirements: Grooming falls in these categories -low maintenance, moderate maintenance and high maintenance. Certain breeds need more grooming based on the type of hair coat. If you get a dog with hair that keeps growing, then advanced routine grooming is essential. Most short-haired, smooth-coated dogs are major shedders, so be prepared to do some extra cleaning up. Some tools can help reduce shedding. Be aware that dogs with long, floppy ears are more prone to ear infections and require frequent thorough ear cleanings. In addition, certain types of dogs can do a lot of drooling. Many owners of Mastiffs, Bloodhounds and similar dogs actually carry a ‘slobber cloth’ with them to wipe the drool.

Age factor: While most of us would like to bring home a puppy and enjoy his growing years, adopting an adult or senior dog can also be considered.

An adult might be a better choice if you want to have a better idea of the true energy level, attitude, and temperament of your new dog. However, just because the dog is an adult does not mean he is trained, so you should still expect some degree of dedicated training at first. Fortunately, many adult dogs have been trained and socialised to some degree and can easily adjust to their new lives.

Welcoming a senior dog into your home can be a wonderful way to bring joy to the golden years of a dog. Unfortunately, senior dogs are less likely to be adopted. A senior dog can make a wonderful companion if you are looking for a lower energy dog. However, it is important to know that your senior dog needs special care and time, more frequent veterinary check-ups and is more likely to develop health problems that cost time and money to address. Unlike a puppy or adult dog, you must know that you will not have as many years with your senior dog. If you are willing to accept the responsibilities, consider adopting a senior dog. It can be one of the most compassionate things you can do for these precious creatures.

Last but not the least, if we have pets, it means we need to give them quality time and energy, which will strengthen the bond between the pet and the pet parents. Happy pet parenting!

Bringing home a friend

When you have finally made up your mind to own a dog, you must seriously consider which breed you prefer and would like to have. Choosing the right breed :?One of the major factors that need to be considered before bringing a pet home is the space factor. If you have plenty of space available, a large garden, and adjacent fields or greens in which he can exercise, then your choice need not be restricted. If you fancy a Great Dane or a Saint Bernard, there is no reason why you should not have one. However, if you decide on a large dog, you must realize that it will need a good deal of food. On the other hand, if you live in a flat or in any densely populated area, then for obvious reasons, you will choose a dog of fairly small breed like a cocker spaniel, or a Lhasa Apso, or a Dachshund or one of the many others you can choose from.

But if you are looking for a particular breed to suit your needs, then the best way that comes to my mind, is to get in touch with a reputable breeder. It would be preferable to have one that stays close to your area. You can also take a look in the newspapers under ‘Kennel & Livestock’ column and or you could get in touch with the ‘Kennel Clubs’ in your town.

Checking out :?When taking delivery of a puppy, make sure that you are given its Kennel Club registration certificate, which describes the pup’s pedigree and a signed Kennel Club transfer form. The transfer form should be forwarded to the Kennel Club along with the fee, after which the puppy is transferred in their record to your ownership.

Good breeders, like most thorough professionals, take great pride in the quality and condition of the stock which they are dealing in. So there are better chances of getting a healthy puppy from a good, sound and pride-winning stock that is well-reared in a hygienic, scrupulously clean and disease-free kennel.

The age factor also comes into play while choosing a pup. It’s advisable not to pick a pup less than eight weeks of age, by which time it will be a strong little creature, will be able to stand on its own four sturdy little legs, and face life under its new conditions.

Money factor :?Here, I would like to sound a note of warning. While it may be tempting at times, do not buy a puppy simply because it is advertised cheaply. It must be noted that breeding and rearing dogs and pups, are costly business, if done properly. Most dog foods are expensive, and needless to say, the dam during the period of gestation and while she is feeding her pups must be well fed. She needs nutritious food, plus the necessary vitamins and minerals supplements. When the pups are three weeks old, they are partially weaned on baby milk and baby foods. And when finally and completely weaned at between five and six weeks old, they need 5-6 small meals a day.

All this only goes on to show that a strong, well-reared and healthy puppy cannot be produced cheaply. A poorly-reared puppy is a very bad investment indeed. It will not have the stamina to stand up to any illness, and you will probably be faced with veterinary bills and might even lose the pup, if you have gone ahead and bought it in the cheapest market.

The right training :?Once the choice of a dog is made, it’s very important to train it properly. Dogs learn very quickly. All training and teaching must be done by word and by tune of voice. They should never be smacked; the tune of the voice will convey to them adequately your pleasure or your displeasure. You will never succeed if you lose their confidence and make them nervous or afraid. They love to please you, and they are gluttons for praise; so be lavish with it.

Remember, an obedient and well trained dog is a happy dog. It has no fear of anxiety complexes, wondering what is expected of it and what is not expected. The comparatively few hours given to training will pay you a dividend and last you all its life.

The soft touch :?While I had dealt only with pedigree puppies in this article, please do not think that I despise a mongrel puppy. Very far from it! He makes an equally charming and ideal a companion as any of the aristocrats I have mentioned. One thing, however, must be clearly understood. Even such a puppy needs the same good food, the same care and training as does a pure pedigree one. The only difference is the initial outlay in the cost of acquiring your pet.

But once you have acquired a puppy, it’s important to be kind to him. Never pick him up by the scruff of the neck. It is both wrong and unkind. Place your right hand under his tummy, lift him up, then form a crook with your elbow. Then hold the puppy close to your body with the right forearm, so that the elbow and forearm make a kind of cradle in which the puppy will be safe and secure. That would surely be the touch that binds the two of you together for life.

(Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.)