PET TALK: April 29th, 2020
Columns, Pet Talk

PET TALK: April 29th, 2020

April 29, 2020

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains measures to introduce resident cats to new or foster cats 

By Maneka Gandhi

Is sodium selenite safe in dog food?

Sodium selenite can be a controversial substance when it is used in dog food. This is because, although the mineral is essential for normal cell function in all animals, selenium can be toxic in high doses. It is safe, but only if it is used in the right amount, as too much of sodium selenite can prove to be harmful to dogs.

Some well-known dog foods use far too much sodium selenite in their food. I would always recommend homemade food such as a blend of rice, dal and mashed vegetables along with dahi and an egg.

 *My cat is active during the night. How to control nocturnal instincts of a domestic cat? *

Feline nocturnal activity is the bane of many a cat owner’s existence. Just as you’re slipping into deep REM sleep, a 10 lb. tabby jumps on your chest, attacks your feet, or yowls insistently to be fed.

If you’re like most cat owners, you reward this behavior by feeding the cat or giving her attention to try to calm her down. You know it’s the wrong thing to do, but when you’re desperate for sleep you’ll do whatever it takes to restore calm.

Understanding your cat’s behaviour is the first step toward modifying it and getting a good night’s sleep. Cats are nocturnal by nature. Wild cats hunt during the night, and domestic cats retain this tendency to be “night owls.”

It’s also a consequence of the typical housecat’s lack of daytime activity while you’re at work. She usually spends her entire day napping. When you get home from work, her day begins. You provide food, play and social interaction. By the middle of the night she’s hitting her stride and is at her most rambunctious.

Research on cat behaviour at night shows that even cats who have developed sleep patterns similar to our own still wake several times during the night. Once she’s awake and shifts into play mode, leaping at your every movement in bed, trying to entice you to play with her. Perhaps if you keep her busy and active in the evening and give her the heaviest meal at night, she might sleep through the night.

What are some methods to keep my dog’s teeth clean?


First, you’ll want to get toothpaste that is made specifically for dogs. This is because toothpaste for humans contains ingredients that are toxic to our pets. Second, you can use either a canine toothbrush or a brush that fits over your fingertip. Also, tooth wipes are made to be rubbed against your dog’s teeth to help remove plaque. They work similarly to toothbrushes but are not able to get into the tiny nooks and crannies that a brush does.  Dog-chews have teeth-cleaning properties.

Does Zika virus impact only humans or dogs as well ?

We know very little about the possible effects of Zika in pets or livestock. At this point, mosquito control measures, and the use of repellents labelled for animals, are the best preventative measures available should you have to travel to a Zika endemic area with your pet, or if natural transmission through mosquito bites does become a problem locally in the future. There have been no reports of illness or birth defects related to Zika virus infection in animals. Interestingly, a virus that is related to Zika (Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus, or BVDV) is known to cause birth defects in calves, including microcephaly and eye deformities, when their mothers are infected during pregnancy.

People advise not to give puppies a bath until 3 months. Why?

You should only bathe puppies that are older than 12 weeks. Until they are old enough you might have to settle cleaning your puppy with a sponge bath. Before your dog is 12 weeks old the less water the better. It is said so because most shampoos available in the market aren’t safe for pups below 12 weeks.

How often should I clean my dog’s ears and with what?

The regularity with which you clean your dog’s ears depends on your pet’s breed, coat, level of activity, age, and ear wax production. We recommend that most dogs with normal ears have cleanings at least once a month. Also, keep looking for any secretions or developing wax from time to time. Use an ear cleaning solution to wipe the ear.

Some people say there are no dangerous dogs — only dangerous owners. What is your opinion?

A puppy, no matter what breed of dog it is, isn’t born a killer. All they want is to be loved, looked after, fed properly and to learn the way to behave through guidance. Like humans without these things they will turn bad. Most dog attacks are humans’ faults. As a “owner” of a dog you must be able to manage these certain behavioural issues, with love, patience, good food and teaching techniques.


So next time you see the news and there has been another dog attack, think about things before blaming the dog. There’s no such thing as a bad dog, just unguided ones!

Should people be legally obliged to clean up their pet’s mess in the street?

While it is not against the law for any person to allow a cat or dog to defecate at any  sidewalk of any public street, park, beach or school ground or other designated area, any private property not belonging to the pet owner, but it is most annoying for other people and it spreads an anti-animal feeling. The fault is the owner’s, but the animal often pays for it with its life. Therefore, every owner should remove any faeces/ mess left by the pet outside the house with a pooper scooper. This is mandatory in most countries. Also, the owner of animals should try to see that their house does not have bad odours in it, as this makes neighbours angry and again leads to unnecessary conflict in which the animal is often the only victim.

How do you introduce your cat to foster kittens?

Introductions between resident cats and new or foster cats can be a delicate process. A constant rotation of different fosters in your home may freak out your resident cat. Make sure all of your pets and the fosters are up to date on their vaccinations. There is always a risk that the fosters can transmit something to your resident pets and vice versa. Consider keeping them separated for at least the first seven to ten days before allowing them to meet.

Each cat reacts differently to kittens. Some might ignore, some might sniff and leave while others can be aggressive. If cats don’t seem to be comfortable with the foster kittens, let there be small supervised introductions. Continue with the controlled visits until the cats are used to each other. Eventually you’ll be able to move their food dishes and litter boxes to the same area.

Not all cats get along right away. With patience and time, and some intervention on your part, your cat will learn how to be around fosters.


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