Dr Ankur Narad

Planning to buy/adopt a dog? Congratulations on this big decision! But before you make the final move make sure you discuss these questions with your family.–by Dr Ankur Narad and Dr RK Jain

Why buy/adopt a dog?
Having a pet is a joyous experience. He will give you companionship, love, affection, and the incentive to exercise regularly. Your pet will also tightly bond the family together. But being a pet parent has its share of responsibilities, so ask yourself can you commit to it? Do you have the time and resources to give your pet a happy and healthy life? Are you prepared to scoop poop? Are you ready to take him for a walk daily—be it scorching heat, lashing rains, or cold. Are you aware of the long-term costs of dog food, vet care, and kennels?

Pedigree, Cross-Breed or Mixed Breed?
The choice is yours—for Pedigree do ensure a safe source as to not encourage puppy mills. If you can adopt from an organisation or street, it’s a great way to give the pet a home. Both ways it’s your commitments and responsibility to ensure and give health, love and most of all your time.

What coat type to consider?
Coat type is a critical consideration when choosing a dog. Some breed coats require daily grooming. So make sure to understand all about coat length and grooming needs of the breed before you bring a pet home.

Male or female – what gender to choose?
Choosing between a male and a female dog can be tricky, but remember –

  •  Young unneutered males can be difficult to manage.
  • Female dogs go “on heat” twice a year and this demands extra vigilance.
  •  Do ask a vet on temperament/neutering options of female/male dog.

A perfect puppy?
A dog is for life, and opting for a puppy could mean sharing the next 14 years with your pet. Choose a puppy over eight weeks old.

  •  Lift the ear flaps to see if the ear is pink inside, with neither an unpleasant odour nor any sign of crusty or waxy discharge. Such deposits or discharges might indicate ear mites. Check that the ear flaps hang evenly. Slight head and ear shaking is normal in dogs, especially after waking up.
  •  Hold the head still and check that the eyes are clear, bright, and free from any discharge. Stains around the facial hair might indicate discharge. Make sure there’s no sign of redness, squinting, or inflammation. A puppy who tries to scratch his eyes may have an infection.
  •  To check the teeth and gums, gently part the lips. See that the gums and tongue are pink (or mottled with black pigment) and odour free. Gums should form a clean margin with the teeth. In most breeds (Boxer being an exception), the teeth should generally meet perfectly in a scissor bite.
  •  Check for oily or flaky skin and make sure there are no lumps or abrasions. The hair should be firm and should not come out when you stroke it (healthy fur glistens and only comes out when moulting). Run your hand against the grain of the coat to help you spot any skin defects or parasites.
  •  The anal region under the tail should be clean and dry. There should be no inflammation, or sign of diarrhea, dried feces, or other discharge from genitals. Dragging the rear along the floor, or excess licking, can indicate an irritation caused by blocked anal glands.

Get to know your friend
If you decide to get a mature dog, over six months old, do not go just on appearance. Before you take him home, see how he/she responds to your commands, accepts being touched, is not hand shy or nervous in any way.

Where to get a dog from?
First ask a vet for sources. An animal shelter is another source. We encourage you to adopt and not shop!

How to choose the right vet?
Ask your friends with pets to recommend a vet. Visit the clinic to see the facilities offered and discuss your dog’s vaccination, diet, worming, and checkups.
(Dr Ankur Narad and Dr RK Jain (Professor) are from the College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Mhow, Madhya Pradesh).