Pet Talk: December 19, 2018
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk: December 19, 2018

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka tells how to deal with moths, how to help an injured stray dog/ cat, how to administer first aid for injured bird.

By Maneka Gandhi

How do I deal with moths in my house?

Moths play a very important role in the ecosystem. They are food for several birds and insects, and they act as pollinators.

However, moths can damage clothes, specially woollens. The signs of moth infestation include — tiny holes in sweaters, discoloured dusty clothing with a musty smell, webbing in the closet or on food containers etc.

Keeping your clothes stored properly in a clean hygienic way can keep moths away by placing cedar, lavender or lemongrass. Adult moths won’t want to go near it because they don’t like the smell. Moths thrive in humid conditions, so keep your house humidity in check to prevent infestation.

Moths do not have a very long life span. Getting rid of the larvae and eggs by cleaning, vacuuming and sun drying will significantly control the number. Use vinegar to clean your shelves and kitchen.

Do NOT use moth balls. They don’t keep away moths. They stink and make your clothes stink. They are very poisonous and they kill the fish in the water once you wash them away. Some people foolishly keep them in sinks where they kill no pests — except the human.

How can I extract honey from a honeycomb myself, without destroying it or getting hurt?

If you want to extract honey from a natural beehive, it is going to be a very difficult task. You will end up killing the bees, destroying their colony and even hurting yourself in the process. You will need protective gear to do so as well. The best way to extract honey is from a manmade hive. It would be much better to put up swarm traps. In that manner you could get one or two starter colonies to put in your own hives.

Bees build the beehive like a sphere. They build equally distanced vertical combs so that they can work from both sides. The queen lays the egg at the centre of the hive.

In man-made hives, “bars” or frames are used to encourage the bees to make the comb as uniform as possible. Frames are a rectangular wooden structure that can be filled with foundation, a plastic hexagon base to encourage the bees to build exactly in the frame and cells of the proper size.

Using a man-made hive, you simply put on protective gear and open the hive. You can spray the bees with sugar water which makes their wings wet and gets them busy cleaning each other. Then you pull up the frames or bars from the hive and get all the bees off, brushing them down into the hive.

Once you have the combs, you put them in a centrifuge and spin them. This will leave the wax intact and remove the honey. Or you can cut pieces of the comb out to have honey in comb. In both cases you can put the comb back in the hives for the bees to reuse, or take the wax as well and let them draw out a new comb.

How can I help an injured stray dog/ cat before animal aid organisations arrive?


If you are an animal lover who wishes to be prepared for helping injured strays, it is best to be prepared at all times. Always keep the phone numbers of veterinarians and animal aid organisations handy. Call them for help and ask them to direct you.

An injured animal is frightened and in pain. Do not crowd the animal or it might try to attack or escape. Feral cats can be especially dangerous under such circumstances. Approach the animal slowly while speaking gently. Observe its facial expression. If it seems submissive, pet the animal. If not, do not physically approach it.

Restraining the animal is important for administering treatment. In case of dogs, use leashes. In case of cats, approach them carefully and try to lure them using food. Muzzling a dog is important for your safety. You could check the animal’s pulse by placing your fingers on its thigh. You could check for fever as well, by placing your palm on its belly. This could quicken the rescue procedure for the aid providers, when they arrive.

If the wound is bleeding, apply a little pressure using a sterile gauze or a towel or a sanitary napkin. This helps in flushing out the bacteria and in stopping the bleeding. Trimming the hair around the wound might help in preventing infection. Disinfect the wound using diluted hydrogen peroxide and water. Apply a thin layer of neosporin. It is best to leave the wound open if it is not very deep. But to prevent the animal from licking the medicine the wound can be closed using doctor’s tape.

In case of internal bleeding, rush to the vet. The signs of internal bleeding are pale or white gums; rapid heartbeat or breathing; and bleeding from the ears, nose, mouth or rectum.

In case of a broken leg, use whatever is available- sticks, cardboard, newspaper- to support the broken leg and wrap using a bandage.

Scavon or Neomeg 10 mg works really well for skin diseases. Consult your vet for dosage.

If you suspect diarrhoea, remove all food supplies from the animal but keep him/her hydrated.   

  • For your protection, it is important that you muzzle the dog (especially if he/she doesn’t know you). Use rags or a tie to do so and tie a bow behind the ears.
  • For lifting the animal, slip one arm under its neck, and place your other arm under its stomach. Lift with both arms.
  • If you want the animal on its side, stand or kneel so that it is in front of you with its head to your right. Grasp both front legs in your right hand and both rear legs in your left hand.
  • If you want the animal sitting, slip one arm under its neck, holding its throat in the crook of your arm. Place your other arm over its back and around its stomach. Hold it up in a sitting position by applying your body weight.
  • If you want it standing, slip one arm under the dog’s neck, holding its throat in the crook of your arm. Place your other arm under its stomach. Press it toward your body and lift upward.

A bird just collided with the glass window of my house. It is injured. How can I administer first aid?

Most often window collisions happen because birds mistake reflections in the glass for something real. They do not recognize glass as a solid surface.

A bird’s beak will often hit the window first, forcing the head up and allowing the chest to take the brunt of the collision. This causes internal injuries. A severe head-on collision often results in brain bleeding and neurological damage, even if the bird is somehow able to fly off on its own. If so, it will die shortly.

If you find a bird on its back with bleeding from its mouth or if its neck appears to be broken with laboured breathing, it is most likely going to die. You could try rushing to the vet if nearby. If that is not possible, place it in a small box in a protected place, cover it, and let it humanely die.

If the situation is not so severe, pick the injured bird using both hands. Do so by cupping your hands together and placing them under the chest of the bird. Ensure that it is in the right body orientation (feet down, wings & back up) for proper neurological functioning. The bird needs rest to recover. Place in a container a multi-folded piece of cotton fabric to lay the injured bird on that will support its head and body in an upright position while regaining consciousness. You can sprinkle some water on the cotton. You can place a branch in the container for the bird’s convenience. Place the bird in the container. Drape a towel on the container to avoid light and let it rest.

‘Only’ once the bird has regained consciousness and strength, try to provide it with water (perhaps using cotton or a dropper). Once it has woken up, take the container outside and remove the lid to let it fly off.

December 19, 2018

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