In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells how to ensure that a pet’s newborn litter finds a good home
By Maneka Gandhi
My pet dog just had puppies. When can I put them up for adoption?
Ideally you should wait a week or two after the puppies have weaned from their mothers before putting them up for adoption. Generally dogs wean from their mothers in six weeks, so they can be put up for adoption when they are seven or eight weeks old. Some breeds wean from their mothers at 10-12 weeks. So, ensure that whichever breed you adopt or buy, the puppy has had the necessary time with his/ her mother. If you separate the puppies before they wean they can develop behavioural and socialisation problems, as well as health problems. Make sure they are already eating solid food on their own before putting your puppies up for adoption.
How do I ensure that my pet’s newborn litter finds a good home?
To find a good home for your litter, spread the word that you are putting them up for adoption well in advance. You can even contact rescue groups, or animal shelters, to help you find some potential adopters. When you have someone eager to adopt, you should properly screen the person and take an interview to ensure that the baby will go into a loving and caring household.
Once you have found someone whom you think would be a good and responsible animal owner, invite the person to come spend time with the litter on a regular basis to get them familiarised. Also, explain any details about taking care of the animal, any precautions or things to prepare, in advance. Also, work out details like who will get the litter sprayed and neutered and other details in advance.
After the litter goes to its new homes keep in touch with the new owners for a while to ensure that they do not have second thoughts about adopting a pet, or face other problems. If possible do a home check to confirm that they have got all the necessary items ready to welcome their new family members.
How to make the separation and sending of the newborn animals to their new home less stressful?
Separating the newborn litter from its mother, and sending it to a completely new environment, can be very stressful for your pet. To reduce the stress you can allow the new owners to come and spend time with the litter before sending them to the new house. This way the newborn animals can familiarise themselves with them so that they are less scared.
Never let a newborn animal be sent away before completely weaning off, and learning the basic socialisation and behavioural skills, from his/ her mother and siblings.
If you are going to send the litter for adoption it would be better to not get too close with the animals, to reduce separation anxiety and stress. As owners of the adopted animals, let the animal familiarise themselves with the surroundings and let them come to you. Don’t force yourself on the animals as this can make them more stressed and frightened.
People say that puppies should not be bathed until they are three 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.
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 a ear cleaning solution to wipe the ear.
When I go to my friend’s house I am always very anxious about her dog. The dog seems very friendly to all but when she looks at me, she seems hostile. Is there anything I can do?
Stop being anxious. If you regularly feel anxious, you might be the perfect candidate for a dog bite. According to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, dog bites are three times more in anxious people.
Questionnaires given to 700 people, who had been bitten by dogs, to elaborate on one biting incident, provide information on how old they were at the time of the bite, and their relationship to the dog. Adult respondents also filled out a 10-item personality test, which helped researchers categorise the participants according to the so-called Big Five personality traits (extroversion, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences, agreeableness and emotional stability).
Men were nearly twice as likely as women to have been bitten in their lifetimes. About 44 percent of bites occurred in childhood (when participants were younger than 16 years old), and 55 percent of bites were inflicted by dogs that the victim had never met before the incident. Most surprising, though, was an apparent link between dog bites and respondents who scored lowest for emotional stability on the personality test. The more emotionally unstable a person was, the more likely they were to have been bitten by a dog. Findings suggest that the less anxious, irritable and depressed a person is, the less likely they are to have been bitten.
I have to leave home for a couple of months for work purposes. Is there any service or organisation which can look after my dog during this period?
Sometimes situations arise when you need to leave your pet alone for a long period of time. In such a situation it is best to ask a close friend, relative or colleague to board your pet for the duration. If this is not possible you can try to get a professional pet sitter or pet lodging service. Though such services are not as commonly available in India and may only be available in major towns and cities, you can try websites like https://www.petbacker.com/d/india or https://www.waggle.in to find a family to take in your pet for a while. Before sending your pet away meet up with the family or person who has agreed to look after your pet, and check if the home is ideal for your pet. Keep tabs about your pet’s well-being even when you are away.
I am relocating to a different country. Can I take my pet with me?
Yes. Most countries allow for you to bring along your pet. However, you will have to contact the country’s Consulate, or any animal rights organisation in that country, to help you find out the legal procedure about bringing your pet with you. You will also have to prepare all the necessary paperwork and medical history from a reputed authorised organisation. You may also be required to have a microchip or RFID placed in your pet. Organisations like Petsfly can also help you relocate your pet in a more comfortable and convenient manner.
How important are animals for a human’s mental stability?
Animals have been recognised to have therapeutic effects on people suffering from anxiety or depression. Animal-assisted therapy programmes have become an important part of mental health treatment. Interacting with friendly animals secretes serotonin and dopamine in humans, and calms their nervous system. Canine and Equine-Assisted Therapy has proven to be an effective tool for combating mental illness.