Pet Talk
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

December 11, 2019

By Maneka Gandhi

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells why it is important not to bathe a puppy before weaning and causes for night barking

Sometimes my dog barks at nothing in dead of night and silence. Why does this happen?

The possible reasons can be:

1. Boredom – Just like any human left alone for too long, your dog gets bored too. If dogs are bored, they are likely to vocalise more often. If dogs are left alone for long periods of time, they can become very bored, especially if there is nothing for them to do.

2. Fear or alarm – There’s a reason we get scared of things that go bump in the night — as humans, we fear the unknown, and dogs also feel the same night-time anxiety. If dogs are fearful, they may bark at any noise they hear that is scary to them or startles them. They may also bark as an ‘alarm’ to tell those around that something is going on that they should be aware of.

3. Loneliness – There is not always a universal cause for night barking. Loneliness remains one of the top triggers in dogs that can’t seem to settle down. Dogs are pack animals, so if left alone in another room at night, they may bark to try and get attention. Allowing your dog to sleep in your room should help to eliminate barking due to separation anxiety. If sleeping in your bedroom isn’t an option, maybe you need another dog for a source of companionship.

4. Looking for attention – Attention-seeking is different from loneliness in dogs. Many dogs bark for attention, whether they want petting, the food you are eating or something else. It is important that you completely ignore your dog if you feel he is barking for attention, otherwise the barking will continue. If you tell your dog ‘quiet,’ ‘shush’, or any other vocalisation to tell them to stop, that is considered attention to your dog.

5. Noise sensitivity – Unlike their human companions, dogs aren’t able to shut out noise, and distraction, as easily before bed. Dogs have such acute hearing. Although your home, or apartment, might be very quiet to you, a dog can be extremely sensitive to outside noises and will bark in response. Putting on a TV, radio, or white noise machine, might help block out some of that external noise and hopefully eliminate this cause of bedtime barking.

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6. Not enough exercise – If your dog spends all day at home alone while you’re at work, and has just a few hours of freedom before bed, it only makes sense that he’ll be restless at night. They have pent up energy, are excited to see you and just want some attention. Exercise is the best solution for this cause of barking. A long walk or run will help tire both of you out before bedtime.

Can a dog and cat live peacefully together?

Only if they grow up together. It is not advisable to introduce a cat into a full grown dog’s house.

My cat is having problems in hearing. What should I do?

It can be due to several reasons: • Ear infection (otitis externa, which can travel to the inner ear); • Ear mites; •  Polyps Cancerous growths in the ear canal; • Hypothyroidism. Excessive ear wax in the cat’s ears; • Genetic cats born with two blue eyes and white fur are much more likely to be deaf; • Atresia, a defect in the ear canal’s development; • Exposure to household chemicals; • Taking diuretic medications or some antibiotics; • Age. The cat’s eardrum thickens as a cat gets older; • Fused bones in the inner ear; • Nerve damage.

Treatment – The treatment method used will depend on the cause of the cat’s hearing loss. If the cat has an ear infection, antibiotic treatment may help the cat to recover its hearing. If the cat has an over-accumulation of wax in its ears, this can be carefully and gently removed from the cat’s ears, although the cat may need to be sedated for this procedure. If a tumour or growth is obstructing the cat’s ear, removing this tumour surgically may help the cat regain some of its lost hearing. Genetic and age-related hearing loss cannot be reversed. Instead, the cat will need to learn to cope with its hearing loss.

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

It is very important not to bathe a puppy before weaning. If you do so, you could cause the mother to reject her puppy, as she may not identify the scent as familiar.  Once you give a puppy a bath, you, as the owner, will have to take over caring for the puppy. This care means making sure your puppy is given appropriate feed, medication, exercise and training.

On the other hand, it is also necessary to take into account the vaccination schedule of the dog before giving a puppy a bath. Occasionally, a dog will suffer from stress during his first bath, which can lead to a poor immunological response to vaccines.

For this reason, veterinarians recommend waiting 1 to 2 weeks after each vaccine before giving a puppy a bath. 

Once you are clear as to when to give a puppy a bath, you can proceed to accumulate the appropriate tools for this puppy’s first bath: • Warm ambient temperature; • Positive and relaxed atmosphere; • Puppy specific shampoo; • Sponge; • Dog comb for rubbing (soft); • A bucket of warm water; • Towels and hair dryer.

It is recommended making sure all of the above are prepared before giving a puppy a bath. You must provide them with a warm environment, to avoid causing thermal shock to the dog.

What is the proper process of cremating and burying animals?

Home Burial – Many people choose to bury a pet at home as a way of keeping it close.

Cremation –  Pets can be cremated either in usual crematories or the ones that are specifically dedicated for pet cremations. During the process, a pet’s body is placed in a cremation unit and subjected to high temperatures up to 1400-1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The ashes are then poured in a sealed plastic bag, cardboard box, or tin and finally, returned to the owner. Having received the ashes you may choose to scatter, store, or bury them.

Cemetery Burial – There are very few in India. But you can find out if your district has one, and use it.

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