’Do it right’ essentials of Pet parenting
Before you adopt a pet, a good first step is really thinking about your daily routine! How much free time do you have each day that you are willing to devote to the care, training, and attention of your dog.
- All your family members agreed with the idea of bringing home a pup?
Dr. Munmun De
- Will you give up your holidays or functions if your dog is ill at home?
- Do you have place where you can leave your dog while you are away?
- Are you ready to deal with chewed chapals, shocks, etc?
- Are you ready for cleaning job while your dog is under potty training?
- Will you allow your dog to be involved in your day-to-day activities?
- Will you give your dog freedom to move around?
- Are you ready to spend time with your dog when he gets diseases or weaker due to age-related syndromes?
If your answer is ‘no’ to three or more of these questions above, think again before you come to the final decision on bringing home a pup. Dogs are meant for life, not just temporary beings or for holidays!
What all pet parents should know: A pet parent should always be an animal lover, as a pet needs a family who is not scared of animals and a family who genuinely wants to keep a pet as a family member and not just for show or status.
What a new pet parent should know: When you get a new puppy at home, determine where your pup will be spending most of his time because he will be under a lot of stress with the change of environment. Learn how to provide emergency first aid if your pet is suffering from poisoning, seizures, broken bones, bleeding, burns, shock, heatstroke, choking or other urgent medical problems as it can comfort an injured pet and can help minimise your pet’s anxiety. Always keep your veterinarian’s emergency number handy.
Making homecoming stress-free: Just like us, dogs need order and leadership. They seek order, which you must provide. Your dog needs to know that you are the one in charge and that you have a set of rules to live by. This makes the transition from the previous accommodation to your home easier, faster and more rewarding. Purchase your essential dog care items such as ID tags, a collar and a leash, food and water bowls, dog toys, a crate and bedding, and basic grooming tools. The next step is to plan a trip to the vet in order to make sure your dog is healthy.
Finding the right vet: The best way to find a veterinarian is by word of mouth. The animal shelter or rescue group or the breeder from where you got your dog may have a good recommendation for you. For proper preventative care, your dog or cat should be examined by a veterinarian thrice a year.
Getting the most from your vet: Taking your dog to the veterinarian should be your first priority. It’s a good idea to make sure your dog is healthy
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and doesn’t have any diseases or viruses he or she could transmit to other animals or pet parents in the house. A typical vet check-up includes searching for fleas using a special flea comb, taking your dog’s temperature, and a physical examination which will include checking your dog’s ears, eyes, nose, teeth, skin, legs, joints, and genitals, and lymph nodes and listening to the heart and lungs. It will be common for the veterinarian to stress the importance of avoiding parasites, and will suggest options for flea and tick prevention and control. Get a proper diet chart from your vet based on the type of breed. Ensure your dog is up to date on all his de-worming and vaccinations. Make a list of questions which need to be asked. Mark the dates in calendar and set a reminder for appointments for vaccination and de-worming.
Weaning process of a puppy: Weaning can be started when a puppy reaches the age of about four to six weeks. Some puppies can’t be weaned until they are nine weeks old. Each breed and litter is slightly different. You must ask breeders about proper procedure weaning and right amount of food. Vets can also guide you on the same. The first step in the weaning process is that the puppies must be kept away from the mother before you feed them. The mother dog should not be around when it is time for the puppies to eat. By doing this they will be more inclined to try the food you offer them. When the puppies begin to eat more solid food, the mother’s milk production will decrease.
How to train a puppy: Be patient; remember that your puppy is just a baby. Consistency is the key to keeping your puppy from becoming confused in taking commands. Treats are the best training trick. Discourage your pup from biting. Replacement theory is a way to keep your puppy away from chewing on inappropriate things. When you catch him with your shoe, firmly say ‘no’, take it away, and replace it with something your puppy is allowed to chew on. Toilet training is a must from the start. Use discipline and patience to train your cute pups.
How to train an adult dog: Learn to listen to your dog. Forcing the issue can often result in bigger problems down the line. Make sure you give your dog lots of attention when he’s doing the right thing. Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. Have realistic expectations as changing your adult dog’s behaviour takes time.
Taking care of oral hygiene: Pet can suffer from gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth pain. Oral cleanings help keep your pet’s teeth strong and healthy. Dogs show dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. Pet parent’s care includes brushing, oral rinses, and dental treats. Your vet is a good source of information about brushing techniques, oral rinses, and dental treats.
Handling a greedy dog: Once your dog tastes human food, he will want it again, so, it’s best to just keep it away from him all together. Be firm, as a family and have a good command control. Control access to the table and put food in their dog bowl only. If after all these tips your dog is still begging at the table, simply ignore him.
Caring for pets in winters: Keep the door and windows shut. Make your pet wear a warm dog coat. A warm soft bedding is always recommended on the floor. Brush your pet regularly as no bath is given. Avoid cold water for drinking. Exercise is must.
Caring for pets in summer: Give your pet a lot of water to drink. Take your pet for walk in the early mornings or late evenings to avoid direct sunlight. Keep the house cooler by shutting all the door and windows. Give him a proper bath in regular intervals depending on the climatic condition. Swimming is advisable.
Caring for pets in monsoon: Keep your pet dry. Brush him with a nice antifungal powder daily. Keep the ears clean and moist free. Always check for fleas and ticks. Keep the paws clean from any debris.
Making travelling with pets safe: Never leave your dog in your car. Aside from being against the law in many states, even a few moments in the heat will turn your car into an oven. This can lead to dehydration, brain damage or even death. While travelling with your pet make sure he is not full stomach. Always carry his bowl and water even if travelling a short distance.
Never shave your dog: Often pet parents shave down their dogs during the summer time, thinking this will help keep them cool. But ironically, shaving down dogs inhibits their ability to deal with the temperature change. So keep your dogs well groomed by removing all dead undercoat hair, but remember not to shave them. Always clean the ear and anal gland.
Caring for a geriatric dog: For your senior dog, always schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. Ask for a body condition evaluation during each vet visit. Choose a diet that is appropriate for your dog’s age and lifestyle. Consider a special diet if your older dog has heart or kidney disease. Exercise your senior dog. It can help keep your older dog lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles.
Rearing dog on a vegetarian diet: Dogs are strictly carnivorous but some pet parents feed them vegetarian diet due to social and religious boundaries. Many vegetables are rich in protein but that is not enough for pets. Consult your vet with regard to dog food in relation to your dog’s breed, size and age.
Tips for breeding your pet: Both male and female should be healthy and possess no genetic faults. Make sure the female is very healthy so that her pregnancy and birth are easier. You should also have a good working relationship with your veterinarian who can be a very helpful resource throughout the breeding process, during the pregnancy, during the labour and of course, once the pups are born. Male dogs have less reproductive problems than female dogs but they can be more difficult to correct. Anatomical defects, low sperm, and infection of the reproductive organs, shy in behaviour, aggressiveness are the most common problems in a male dog. With the female, the main reason for failed breeding is wrong timing.
Caring for a pregnant female dog: Pregnant dogs go through emotional phases and changes during their pregnancies as well. The first thing that you can do to help your female dog through her pregnancy is to offer your unconditional love. Dogs love to be loved as it is. Speak to her often in a soothing and gentle voice. Give her proper nutritious diet in consultation with your vet. Give her plenty of water to drink and increase the diet and frequency of the meals. Proper medication will be carried on as the vet prescribes. Regular check-up and timely ultrasonography is recommended. Mark the dates of parturition and be prepared.
Caring for mother dog and pups: Taking care of your female dog after pup birth will also help to ensure strong healthy puppies. Make sure to walk her frequently to avoid accidents on the floors. Keep the pups together in a small bucket or basket or a proper soft bedding where the mother can go from time to time to lactate the pups. Clean the pups regularly and keep a sharp observation to see they don’t get stamped by one another.
When adopting a second pet: If you already have an older dog at home just having the new puppy in the house will stress your older dog. Begin by keeping the puppy in an isolated area from the older dog. As for the first introduction, choose a neutral and unfamiliar territory, such as a street or a park you don’t usually visit. For a very young puppy, start by having a friend holding the puppy in their arms and letting your friendly adult dog take a good sniff. Walks make future meetings an excellent bonding activity.
(Dr Munmun De, BVSc and AH (Gold Medalist), MVSc, is a PhD scholar-surgery and radiology at West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, Kolkata).