Pet Talk: April 15, 2020
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk: April 15, 2020

April 15, 2020

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains how to leash train a cat and about first aid for a dog injured in accident

By Maneka Gandhi

Can I vaccinate a pregnant animal?

Vaccinations should not be given to pregnant animals, but most vaccinations are safe for nursing animals.

What should be the first aid medication for a dog injured in an accident?

Prevention is better than cure. Even a well-behaved dog should be kept on a leash anywhere near traffic, including slow moving vehicles. Do not have the collar so loose that the dog can get free.

If the worst happens, beware of other cars. Talk gently to the dog as you approach. Move slowly and avoid making sudden movements. Put a leash on if possible and, if necessary, muzzle before handling. If your dog can walk, go to the vet, even if there appears to be no pain. There may be internal injuries that are not immediately obvious.

If the dog cannot walk, small dogs can be picked up by placing one hand at the front of the chest and the other under the hindquarters. Improvise a stretcher for larger dogs with a coat or a blanket. If the dog is paralysed, there may be a spinal injury, so try to find something rigid, such as a board. Slide the patient gently on to this if possible. Cover with a blanket to reduce heat loss.

How did street dogs originate in India?

Dogs originated much before streets. India has long been home to the Pariah Dog, one of the world’s oldest canine breeds and so named because it was a guard dog — the word comes from the Tamil word for Drummer. The Pariah Dog has existed for over 14,000 years all over Asia and North Africa and had sub breed names. Most rural families owned them. When the British came to India, they made it a point that any Indian dog was unacceptable and only foreign dogs could be considered as house worthy. So, people stopped adopting them. As villages and rural areas turned into cities, these dogs became street dogs. As explained earlier, they survive by eating garbage and are also kept as pets by slum-dwellers. The street dog population is regularly increased by callous owners who abandon their pets on the street. Many irresponsible foreign breed owners also allow their pets to mate with street dogs, producing a large population of mix-breeds.

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How important are animals for a human’s mental stability?

The companionship that a pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. A pet can be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for their owners. In many ways, pets can help us to live mentally healthier lives. Pets are also a great motivator for people. Dogs especially are great at encouraging owners to get exercise, and this can be beneficial for those suffering from depression.

Pets can also have calming effects on their owner. Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can give the owners a chance to relax and calm their minds. Caring for a pet also gives your day a purpose and reward, and a sense of achievement. It also helps you feel valued and needed.

Sensory issues are common among children with autism. Sensory integration activities are designed to help them get used to the way something feels against their skin or how it smells or sounds. Dogs and horses have both been used for this purpose. Children with autism often find it calming to work with animals.

Children with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) are used to their parents trying to calm them down or reprimanding them. A pet is a great listener and offers unconditional love and will not criticise a child for having too much energy. This can aid a child’s self-confidence.

If one eats meat should they be considered to be against animal rights?

Personally, I do not believe that someone who eats animals can be much of an animal activist. But there are thousands of people who are particularly active about specific issues. For instance, meat-eaters stepped up to stop fox hunting in England and the fur trade. Or to stop dissection in schools or the export/ import of pate de foie gras or caviare. So yes, there is a place for all in the war to stop animal abuse. It’s just that the maximum number of animals that need to be saved are the ones in the meat industry and as long as you eat them, how do you campaign to save them?

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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 it 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 some time, 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 areas where there are dogs.

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