Pet Talk
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

By Maneka Gandhi

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka talks about  vaccination schedule for pups and leash-training cats

At what age can you take the community pups to get their rabies injection?

The following is the vaccination schedule you can follow for pups: 3 weeks – Deworming the pup for round worms and hook worms; 4 weeks – Vaccination against Parvovirus and Distemper if bitch is not vaccinated; 5 weeks – Booster Vaccination against Parvovirus and Distemper; 6 weeks – Vaccination against Parvovirus and Distemper if bitch is vaccinated; 7 to 8 weeks – Booster Vaccination against Parvovirus and Distemper; 8 to 9 weeks – Vaccination against Parvo, Adeno, Leptospirosis, Coronavirus, Parainfluenza, Bordetella; 8 to 12 weeks – Deworming and Antirabies Vaccination; 15 to 16 weeks – Booster vaccination for Rabies, followed by 3 yearly boosters. Regular deworming every  6 months, thereafter.

I got scratched by a stray dog while playing with it. Do I have to get an anti-rabies injection now?

If the scratch is caused by the dog’s teeth, it is necessary to take the shots for anti rabies vaccines on day 0, 3, 7, 14 & 30. Other than that you should wash the affected area with soap and water and put some antibiotic cream on it. An injection of  tetanus toxoid is recommended if you have not taken the same in previous five years. Watch the dog. If it shows no signs of  abnormal behaviour in the next 15 days, it’s OK not to take the anti-rabies.

Can previously abused animals be adopted? Can they learn to ultimately trust humans again?

Yes, previously abused animals can be adopted, but these animals may be more difficult to deal with initially as the normal things we do could cause them anxiety and fear. You can, however, increase your chances of teaching an abused animal to trust with a few simple changes in approach and a lot of patience. When interacting with the animal, bend down to appear less threatening. When talking to them, keep your voice low and cheerful. A loud or frustrated tone will cause them to fear. Let them come to you, don’t approach them on your own. Remember, it may be used to getting hit when it approaches someone. Avoid petting the head. When you approach, do so with an outstretched hand. If it moves to step backward, let it retreat. In time, it will stay longer. Nervous animals may often wet the floor involuntarily. If this should happen, it is important not to allow your frustration to show. It is not a deliberate attempt at disobeying and will likely disappear as it gains trust in you. Keep any sessions short, with just a few minutes of actual touch each time. You can gradually increase the time as his trust grows. Often, just sitting quietly and waiting for him to approach you will make him feel comfortable. If your initial attempts fail, try this. A once-abused animal can be as trusting and loving as any other. All it takes is patience on the part of those in his life. A crouching position, low voice and appropriate touch will win him over eventually.

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What preventive measures should you take while approaching an abused animal?

The extent of trauma the animal is suffering after the abuse depends on how old the animal was when the abuse occurred. According to world-renowned veterinary behaviourist Dr. Nicholas Dodman: “An older animal may bounce back from a bad situation, but a young, impressionable animal will show mental scars. He or she often has to be coaxed out of a shell of resistance and will likely never be fully trusting.”

“There are a few precautionary measures you should undertake while approaching the animal. Try to appear non-threatening and don’t use any force. Let him learn on his own that you are not going to hurt him. If the animal trembles or shivers when you are approaching it, don’t approach him face on, but by walking backwards with your hand outstretched so that the animal feels less threatened. As he begins to realise you mean no harm, you’ll be able to approach him face on. Remember, you can’t rush him into being your friend and trust can be only be slowly earned.”

Can you leash-train your cat?

Yes, it is possible to leash train your cat. It is a great way to get your cat to safely enjoy the sights and sounds of the world beyond the house. It is also a good way to exercise your cat. Firstly, buy a good harness and leash for your cat. Make sure it’s not too tight and there should be two finger space between the harness and the cat. Start by just having him or her get used to the harness. Let the cat sniff it, present it as a gift then gently put it on. New noises can be alarming to some cats, so practice snapping the harness together or undoing the velcro to get your cat accustomed to the new sounds. Now that your cat is aware of the harness, slip it on him, but don’t fasten it. Provide more treats as a distraction and to help your cat associate the harness with a positive experience. If he seems comfortable in it, leave it on a bit longer, but if he gets upset, provide a food distraction and slip the harness off. It’s completely normal for cats to freeze up, refuse to walk or walk very strangely the first few times they’re wearing a harness. Your cat has likely never experienced the sensation of something on his back before, so it’s going to take some time to adjust to it. When your cat is comfortable with the feel of the leash, practice following him around your home, keeping the leash loose in your hand. Continue to provide plenty of treats and praise throughout this process. Once you’ve both had some practice with this, it’s time to try gently guiding the cat. Apply a little pressure on the leash and let the cat come towards you. When he does, reward him with a treat. After sometime, you can start taking the cat outside. Initially, your cat might be on high alert, so be patient and let the cat observe his environment. You may find that soon it will become comfortable being outside and will come to love being outside with you. Avoid taking him for long walks or in area where there are dogs.

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What is fading puppy syndrome?

It is a term used to describe puppies that are apparently normal at birth but gradually “fade” and die within the first two weeks of life.

During the first two weeks of life, puppies are very vulnerable to illness and stress, since they are unable to regulate their body temperature independently. They have poor ability to regulate fluid and energy balance. In addition, their immune systems aren’t fully functioning and they have limited protection from infections.

The clinical signs are vague. It is often too late to save a puppy once the clinical signs are apparent. The common findings are a low birth weight, or failure to gain weight at the same rate as their siblings, decreased activity and inability to suckle. These puppies have a tendency to remain separate from the mother and the rest of the litter. They cry weakly in a high-pitched tone.

There are many factors that contribute to fading puppy syndrome. Some of the more common factors include: Lack of adequate care from the mother; Lack of milk production or poor quality milk; Inadequate milk consumption; Congenital defects in the puppy, which may not be immediately apparent; Low birth weight; Infections.

If the puppy does not get the first milk, it is more vulnerable to infection. It is important that the mother be examined immediately after giving birth for abnormal teat discharge, mastitis (breast infection), metritis (uterine infection) or other illness. Viral infections can cause fading puppy syndrome. If the mother is carrying a virus, or isn’t properly vaccinated, the puppies are more likely to contract an infection from the mother, or have an even weaker immune system.

Canine parvovirus, adenovirus and canine distemper have all been implicated as causes of fading puppy syndrome. Intestinal parasites, fleas and ticks can also weaken a puppy by taking vital blood and nutrients away from the developing puppy. Infested puppies often fail to gain weight and slowly “fade” and die.

It is important to ensure that the puppy receives adequate fluid and is kept warm. During the first four days of life the environmental temperature where the puppies are kept should be maintained at 85 -90°F (29.5-32°C). The temperature may then be gradually decreased to approximately 80°F (26.7°C) by the seventh to tenth day. It is not necessary to heat the whole room to these temperatures. Heating over the whelping box with the aid of a heat lamp is usually all that is necessary.

If bacterial septicemia develops, antibiotics may benefit the puppy, but strict hygiene and good management procedures are also critical.

February 14, 2018

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