Ever had trouble with toilet-training? Or maybe your pet's being fussy about food?
Does he / she suffer frequently from an upset tummy? Catch some tips from our very own Dr. Nezhat Patrawalla.
You could also write in for specific queries!

Takecare During the Monsoons...!

Due to the excessive rains the flu, coughs and moist eczema are doing their rounds, so please be careful!!!

  • If your little one gets wet in the rains or even if its not raining and she goes out for a walk in the puddles, please dry her well most esp. the paws, belly and chest.
  • If you feel he is a little dull, off food or the inside of his ears are warm, discharge from the nose or a cough once in a while then preferable to get him checked by the vet before things get worse. It is easier to arrest the respiratory problem when treated immediately so that you can avoid the lungs getting involved.
  • Moist patches on the skin esp. around the head and face or along the back is referred to as eczema and is very common due to the high moisture content in the air esp. in our city!! Keep the affected area clean and dry and apply Spectrazole lotion twice a day. Always clean the crusty formation with Betadine/ Savlon, dry well and then apply the lotion to the affected area. Incase the patch increases in size or number then you would need to consult your vet for a course of antibiotics.
  • If you already haven't vaccinated your pet against kennel cough then please don't delay!!! It is an intranasal vaccination, which protects your pet for 6-8 months against respiratory tract infections.

    "Kennel cough" is a common term for upper respiratory tract infections in dogs. It is NOT only restricted to dogs in kennels but can occur even if you take your dog out for a walk or a play in the park where they are exposed to a carrier. It is an airborne infection so is highly contagious, thus one must also take care to NOT expose your dog to others incase he is being treated for the infection. This flu/cough DOESNOT spread to humans and vice versa, as is commonly believed. If left untreated the infection can spread to the lungs causing pneumonia with a persistent cough.
    Thus prevention is better than cure so please VACCINATE your dogs for kennel cough, esp. before they come in contact with other dogs!!
  • Last but not least always keep your little one warm and dry especially at nights. Provide nice warm bedding or a thick cloth to cuddle into for the night. Dogs with thin coats, weak or debilitated, very young, old or having joint problem, or if recovering from a condition should be kept warm with a coat or T-shirt as they maybe more prone to catching an infection due to low immunity. ALWAYS keep their chest, belly and paws dry and warm.
  • HUGGGSSS and CUDDLES does wonders so donít hesitate in giving your lill' baby a tight squeeze as often as possible coz love is the perfect remedy!!

Am I really risking my pets life by feeding them human food?

Read on to understand the reason why your Vet recommends you to feed your pets their special diet. This is just a brief review of a few of the common things you must avoid feeding your cats and dogs.

1. Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine

Chocolate contains the bromine, a chemical that is toxic to dogs in large enough quantities. Chocolate also contains caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, and certain soft drinks. Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of the bromine and caffeine. For example, dark chocolate and baking chocolate contain more of these compounds than milk chocolate does, so a dog would need to eat more milk chocolate in order to become ill. However, even a few ounces of chocolate can be enough to cause illness in a small dog, so no amount or type of chocolate should be considered "safe" for a dog to eat. Chocolate toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid or irregular heart rate, restlessness, muscle tremors, and seizures. Death can occur within 24 hours of ingestion.

2. Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause acute (sudden) kidney failure in cats and dogs. Clinical signs can occur within 24 hours of eating and include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy (tiredness). Other signs of illness relate to the eventual shutdown of kidney functioning.

3. Avocados

The avocado tree leaves, pits, fruit, and plant bark are likely all toxic. Clinical signs in dogs and cats include vomiting and diarrhea.

4. Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions contain chemicals that damage red blood cells in cats and dogs. Affected red blood cells can rupture or lose their ability to carry oxygen effectively. Cooking these foods does not reduce their potential toxicity. Fresh, cooked, and/or powdered garlic and/or onions are commonly found in baby food, which is sometimes given to animals when they are sick, so be sure to read food labels carefully.

5. Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are common in candies and chocolates. The clinical signs of macadamia nut toxicity in dogs include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint pain, and pale gums. Clinical signs can occur within 12 hours after eating. In some cases, signs can resolve without treatment in 24 to 48 hours, but patient monitoring is strongly recommended.

6. Chewing gum, Candy and Mints

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in products such as gum, candy, mints, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Xylitol is harmful to dogs because it causes a sudden release of insulin in the body that leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Xylitol can also cause liver damage in dogs. Within 30 minutes after eating, the dog may vomit, be lethargic (tired), and/or be uncoordinated. However, some signs of toxicity can also be delayed for hours or even for a few days. Xylitol toxicity in dogs can be fatal if untreated.

7. Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death, if consumed in large quantities.

8. Excessive salt - Chips, Potato Fries

While a pinch of salt is fine in dog food to maintain their electrolyte balance, large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.

9. Raw/Undercooked Meat and Raw Egg

Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets causing Gastroenteritis. Symptoms include that of food poisoning and can sometimes be fatal. This is very common especially in warm countries like ours where the cold chain for the meat preservation is not maintained.
In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Thus always boil your eggs well if you want to add that as a protein source to your pets food.

10. Raw Bones

Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet's digestive tract. Thus one must completely avoid feeding bone, especially chicken bones to pets who are not experienced in eating them.

Many cases of human food toxicity in pets are accidental. A pet may find and chew on a package of gum or candy, or steal food from a countertop or table. The best way to prevent this is to keep all food items in closed cabinets or in areas that are inaccessible to pets. This may be particularly difficult during the holiday season, when more sweets, chocolate, fruit baskets, and other food items are around. During these times, increased vigilance can help prevent pets from finding and eating dangerous foods. Children should be taught at a young age not to feed pet's table scraps. If you suspect that your pet has eaten a potentially hazardous item, contact your veterinarian immediately.

To Neuter or Not ??

To neuter or not?! This debate is never ending and honestly the choice should be your own personal decision. I, as pet owner and veterinarian would like to help you make that choice.

The first question you need to ask yourself is “what do you want from your pet?” Are you looking for an aggressive guard dog, show dog, breeder or just a pampered little pooch that no matter how old he gets, always remains a pup. Once you are clear about this it will be easier to take the next step.

Neutering a male dog : Neutering/Castration is the act of removing both testicles in a male under general anesthesia. This would be a perfect step to take if you have a hyper pup who tries to mount everything in sight, an aggressive male who likes to dominate and mark his territory, or if you just want your little one to remain a carefree happy puppy with no frustration to find a female.

Ideally neutering should be done from 4-6mths onwards though in large breeds it could be delayed to 9months, till secondary sexual development and bone growth is complete.

Advantages :

  • Prevents unwanted breeding and overpopulation.
  • At adolescence the testosterone level surges up and this gives a jump start to hormone- related behavioral problems like aggression towards other males, urine marking in the house and territorial aggression. The degree to which castration has an effect on aggression varies depending on the age and individual personality of the dog. Usually if done at a later age, the dog may also need behavioral training for aggression management.
  • Decreasesroaming behavior due to the lack of testosterone (the male hormone). The neutered male shows no sense or response to female pheromones, thusare less stressed to find a mate and tend to stay at home.
  • Neutering also increases concentration, so if you want to train your dog for field work, then he would make a much better student with a longer attention span even in the company of females in heat.
  • Especially with young hyper overexcited males, neutering makes them easier to handle and more responsive towards the family members. Thus makes it easier to take them for walks or socialize them with other pets.
  • There are also numerousmedical benefits to neutering your dog such as preventing many prostatic and testicular diseases later in life like testicular cancers, enlarged prostate, cysts and infections which are very common in older unneutered males.
  • A dog with hip dysplasia or epilepsy must be neutered not only for his own health purpose but also to prevent the spread of these genetic conditions to his offspring and to improve the gene pool.
  • In older unneutered males due to the high level of testosterone and other hormones the muscles around the anus tend to get weakened and with continuous straining to defecate and urinate, these muscles rupture to cause a hernia. These perianal hernias which may later cause constipation or urinary incontinence can be prevented by neutering the male at an early age.
  • Prevents perianal adenomas and adenocarcinomas (tumors) which are stimulated by testosterone in dogs usually over 7yrs of age.

Disadvantages :

  • In order to neuter your dog he will need to be put under general anesthesia to conduct the surgery. Even though the procedure is commonly performed by most Vets and maximum care is taken to choose the right anesthetic, still any anesthesia comes with a risk.
  • As with any surgery, occasionally if proper post-operative care is not taken, complications such as wound swelling or delayed healing can occur.
  • Due to the reduction of testosterone, the metabolic rate of the body decreases thus if you feed your dog the same amount of food he will put on weight. This weight gain can be checked by proper exercising and reducing the quantity of his diet post-surgery.

People generally have a misunderstanding that after neutering; a dog gets lazy and less playful. But this is only a myth. Neutering can change the aggressive or dominant BEHAVIOUR but NOT the active or lazy PERSONALITY of an individual. If you encourage your little one to have an active lifestyle then nothing can change his outgoing playful personality.

Neutering in cats : There are many behavioral and medical benefits in neutering male cats as well. Ideal age is 4-5mths onwards once both testicles have completely descended.

Advantages :

  • Tomcats (unneutered males) are very prone to get into fights. Thus after neutering, with the lack of testosterone the aggressive nature and tendency to get into fights also decreases.
  • Spraying of urine is a very common behavior of tomcats to mark territory. Anyone who has smelt this will quickly agree that it is a very unwanted behavior, esp. in the house and can be prevented by neutering.
  • Neutered cats are much less likely to react when they sense a female in heat, thus prevent getting into fights with other males and decreases roaming behavior.
  • The biggest medical advantage of neutering is the prevention of injury as unneutered males generally get into fights over territory and females. These fights can get nasty and bite wounds can lead to abscess formations.

Disadvantages :

  • Risk of anesthesia especially in young kittens.
  • As compared to intact males, neutered cats are at an increased risk for certain problems associated with feline lower urinary tract disease, including the presence of stones or a plug in the urethra and urethral blockage.

Having a pet at home should be a pleasurable experience and not a stressful one. Be it in cats or dogs neutering has its advantages and disadvantages but your choice should depend on what lifestyle you want for your loved one!!

TAKECARE DURING THE MONSOONS...!!

To neuter or not?! This debate is never ending and honestly the choice should be your own personal decision. I, as pet owner and veterinarian would like to help you make that choice.

Due to the excessive rains the flu, coughs and moist eczema are doing their rounds, so please be careful!!!

Few pointers :

  • If your little one gets wet in the rains or even if its not raining and she goes out for a walk in the puddles, plz dry her well most esp. the paws, belly and chest.
  • If you feel he is a little dull, off food or the inside of his ears are warm, discharge from the nose or a cough once in a while then preferable to get him checked by the vet before things get worse. It is easier to arrest the respiratory problem when treated immediately so that you can avoid the lungs getting involved.
  • If you already haven’t vaccinated your pet against kennel cough then plz don’t delay!!! It is an intranasal vaccination, which protects your pet for 6-8mths against respiratory tract infections.
    "KENNEL COUGH" is a common term for upper respiratory tract infections in dogs. It is not only restricted to dogs in kennels but can occur even if you take your dog out for a walk or a play in the park where they are exposed to a carrier. It is an airborne infection so is highly contagious, thus one must also take care to NOT expose your dog to others incase he is being treated for the infection. This flu/cough DOESNOT spread to humans and vice versa, as is commonly believed. If left untreated the infection can spread to the lungs causing pneumonia with a persistent cough.
    Thus prevention is better than cure so plz VACCINATE your dogs for kennel cough, esp. before they come in contact with other dogs!!
  • Last but not least always keep your little one warm and dry esp. at nights. Provide nice warm bedding or a thick cloth to cuddle into for the night. Dogs with thin coats, weak or debilitated, very young, old or having joint problem, or if recovering from a condition should be kept warm with a coat or T-shirt as they maybe more prone to catching an infection due to low immunity. ALWAYS keep their chest, belly and paws dry and warm.
  • HUGGGSSS and CUDDLES does wonders so don't hesitate in giving your lill' baby a tight squeeze as often as possible coz luv is the perfect remedy...!

DAILY GROOMING ROUTINE...!!

  • Encourage your pet to come to you for a quick cuddle and play with him for a few minutes to help him get rid of some of his excess energy.
  • Choose a raised platform with an anti-slip surface to groom your pup. Show your puppy his brush and comb and let him sniff and get familiar with it. During the groom if your pup tries to bite or play with the brush, turn away without letting go of him. Ignore negative behavior but reward positive behavior with treats and praises. Your pup should look forward to this time of the day as a good experience.
  • Slowly start brushing his body while talking to him in a soothing tone and praising him for his good behavior. This is when he starts relaxing and begins to enjoy the attention.
  • After a few minutes slowly proceed to brushing sensitive areas like the belly, ears, tail and legs always while praising him.
  • Touch the feet and examine the nails and toes. It is important your puppy gets used to having nails touched in case future nail clipping is required.
  • Play with your puppy's ears by touching them on the inside and outside. Reward him with lots of praises and a treat for good behavior. This is very important, as many breeds require the hair to be plucked from the ears for basic hygiene purpose.
  • Open your pup's mouth and rub your finger along his teeth and gums. As they grow older you could introduce a finger brush or puppy toothbrush and pet friendly toothpaste for their daily dental cleaning. This helps in surface cleaning and could prevent early formation of plaque and help in reducing odor from the mouth.
  • Always end the grooming session with a cuddle, walk or a game. This familiarity with close contact not only makes handling easy but also helps make veterinary examinations less stressful in the future.

BATHING

  • If a bath is required, when your puppy is small a plastic tub would suffice but as they grow bigger switch to a shower or a bath with an anti-slip mat so they don't panic if they loose their footing.
  • Make the environment warm and use luke warm water for the bath as puppies tend to get very cold after a bath. Make drying arrangements ready before starting the bath.
  • Wet the coat thoroughly and avoid getting water into your puppy's eyes or ears. Offer praise and reassurance throughout the process and reward positive behavior. If it's the first time and your pup is nervous, ask a friend to stroke and reassure the puppy while you wash him up.
  • Use a puppy shampoo specific for your puppy's coat texture. Initially always use it in dilution and lather well. Leave it on for a few minutes while massaging it well into the coat. Rinse off the shampoo thoroughly, as remains may cause itchiness and scaling later.
  • Stand back as your puppy gives himself a good shake!! Towel dry well and use a hair drier only during cold weather or if the puppy has a thick coat. When blow-drying your pup's hair make sure the dryer is on "Cool" setting as it can burn the skin easily. Also make sure not to use the dryer too close to the skin or directly on the eyes and ears. If your puppy shows fear towards the loud sound of the drier try to keep him distracted with treats and keep talking to him in a reassuring tone.
  • Run a cotton swab with your finger in his ears to dry any left over water drops. Make sure the coat and feet are completely dry before letting him go outside.

Encourage older children and other members of the family to get involved in the grooming process, as it is a perfect bonding experience and helps teach gentle handling and responsibility. Grooming is essential not only for your pet’s physical health but also his physiological and psychological well-being. What your dog feels and how he acts depend on his physical state. If you’re dog is not properly groomed, he will most likely display bad behavior or laziness. A good groom rejuvenates his confidence and boosts him with energy to face the activities that await him.  While it is best to do a basic groom at home everyday, once a month you must take your pet for a professional groom so that your puppy’s coat texture and skin can be analyzed by a professional who could guide you on how to proceed further with his skin care and maintain that perfect glossy coat.

It's very important to remember that, "a clean dog is a happy dog"!!

IMPORTANCE OF PUPPY GROOMING...!!

When a puppy is brought home he/she requires the same amount of care and attention as a new born baby. They are completely dependent of you for their growth, development and character building. Along with giving them a good diet and exercise, basic hygiene and grooming is also very important for a puppy's overall development. Grooming isn't just about making your puppy look good. Regular care removes dead hair, keeps the coat and skin healthy, and gives you the opportunity to keep a check on your pup's general health.

Basic hygiene starts from the first day when your little puppy is brought home. This comprises of wiping around the mouth and chin after meals with a moist towel and drying the area well. Similarly wipe around the belly and lower abdomen 2-3times a day with a moist towel and dry well. This is to prevent dermatitis caused due to food remaining on the chin or urine around the belly, which leads to pimples, redness and irritation of the skin.

Puppies have very delicate sensitive skin and thus the type of shampoo or brush used is very important and depends on the coat type. Please seek guidance from a professional groomer or your Vet regarding the dos and don’ts for your puppy’s specific skin type. For the first couple of months your grooming schedule should comprise of daily brushing of the coat and sponge baths once a week max or only if required. Regular baths or professional grooming can begin from 2.5mth-3mths onwards. It is not advisable to bath your dog too often, as they loose the natural oil from their skin and predisposes them to a lot of skin conditions in the future. Thus a max of 1-2grooms/month is ideal for most breeds, especially with our weather conditions.

I associate the puppy's first grooming experience with that of a child’s first dentist appointment. If it scares them, they will fear and dread it the rest of their lives. However, if introduced at a young age and introduced CORRECTLY, it can be both a positive and rewarding experience. LOVE and PATIENCE are the keys to years of successful grooming sessions enjoyed by both you and your little one. The process is quite simple and acts as a bonding experience as it is important time spent together, building your relationship, trust and understanding. There's even scientific evidence that grooming sessions reduce stress and blood pressure - for both of you...!!