Pet Talk
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

June 5, 2019

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains about dog’s and cat’s diet; Also, about DOs and DON’Ts as a new dog owner.

By Maneka Gandhi

Can I feed my dog with sweet and sugary substances? Is it bad for its health? Or is it just a myth?

Candy, gum and baked goods are sweetened by xylitol. It can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and even cause liver failure. Early symptoms are lethargy, coordination problems and vomiting, which are followed by seizure and liver failure.

The darker the chocolate, and the smaller the dog, the more dangerous the combination. Chocolates have a toxin, theobromine, which is extremely dangerous for a dog. Even “sugar-free” gum, candy or cough drops have xylitol which can be deadly for the dog.

How can dog adoption benefit in my individual development?

Better Health: A Chinese study found that there is a link between dog ownership and reduced risk of coronary artery diseases.

You’ll be happier: Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression, because, taking care of a dog forces you to form a routine and stay active.

Children become empathetic: A study found that pet attachment in 7-12 year olds encouraged compassion and positivity towards animals. You’ll feel more involved in the community. Dog owners feel healthier emotionally and physically, when compared to non-dog owners. Generally, shelter dogs are spayed and vaccinated which reduces the risk of any diseases.                                                           You are saving a life.

My dog is continuously spinning in circles? What does it indicate? Is it important to take him                                   to the Vet?

Nap time circles: Some dogs spin when they are going to bed. This is natural to them. It is a way for them to create a perfect sleeping spot in order to fit their bodies comfortably.

Happy Spinning: Some dogs display excitement by spinning in circles and prancing up and down.

Behavioural issues: If your dog is spinning continuously, multiple times a day, and starts avoiding food, this could be a hint towards an underlying issue. Some common issues could be anxiety, fear, and lack of attention. Consulting a vet is recommended.

Health issues: Elderly dogs might indicate problems in cognition, hearing issues or neurological conditions, through continuous spinning. Consulting a vet is suggested here as well.

My dog is constantly salivating. Is it true that dogs sweat by salivating? Or is it just a myth?

Too much drooling, or hypersalivation, can be a sign of an illness. It could indicate a mouth disease, heat stroke, or motion sickness. Heat release occurs in a different way in dogs. The primary method that dogs use for cooling off is panting. This allows moisture on the tongue to evaporate, which helps the dog to manage a significant cooling of its body temperature. Another method is vasodilation that involves dilation of blood vessels. They are capable of sweating a little through paw pads as well.

My dog pup has been sleeping more hours than the usual. Is it normal for a dog pup to sleep 18-20 hours a day?

The average dog sleeps 12 to 14 hours per a 24-hour cycle. Puppies who expend a lot of energy tend to sleep for 18 to 20 hours. Older dogs also tend to sleep a lot. Breeds like St. Bernard and Newfoundland naturally tend to sleep a lot. Dogs are regular, but flexible, sleepers. They can pop into action when required. The thing that might be a worrier could be a sudden change in the sleeping pattern. These changes could be caused by a low-quality diet, aging, or poor health. Consulting a vet for a quick check up is a good idea in that case.


I have a dog with long toe nails. Does long toe nails lead to foot disorders in dogs?

Long Toe nails can be problematic for dogs because:

Painful feet: When the long nails touch the hard ground then it either puts pressure on toe joints, or forces the toe to twist to the side Long toe nails can lead to a change in a dog’s posture. Long nails can chip and break, that can be very dangerous for a dog.

I’m a new dog owner. What DOs and DON’Ts should I keep in mind? Is it important to immunise my cat pet?


Bring your new pet to a qualified vet within a week of bringing it home.

Get your dog vaccinated on time.

Feed the pet a high-quality diet, because proper nutrition is a key in preventing any diseases.

Train your pet. Take your pet for walks regularly for proper exercise and in order to smoothen the pet’s transition into a new environment.

Provide your dog with treats and toys to keep it engaged.

Puppy proof your house. A puppy shouldn’t be out of sight ever, but it is also a good idea to keep the house safe for a puppy.

Grooming your dog on time is a must.


Never change the dog’s feeding pattern, or food, abruptly. This could cause behavioural changes and gut infections.

Don’t encourage behaviour. Giving too many treats, feeding him by hand, allowing him to eat from the table, allowing him to snatch things, or teaching him games like pulling things from you, and letting the dog sleep on the bed frequently, for example, can be harmful later.

Don’t use ammonia-based cleaning products in the household.

I often find my pug scratching the folds on his face and leaving wounds. How can I take care of these       face folds?

Pugs have a heavily wrinkled forehead and facial folds that are unique to the breed. If these folds are not cleaned thoroughly, dirt, moisture, loose hair and debris can get caught in between the folds that can lead to skin problems. Here’s how to clean your pug’s face folds to keep him clean and free from skin allergies:

• Clean it daily: Maintain a routine to clean your pug’s facial folds on a daily basis to ensure there is no build-up of bacteria. Use a doggie wipe (not human grade or baby wipes) and gently stretch the wrinkles to clean between the folds. You can also use a clean and damp washcloth to wipe.

• Keep it dry: Make sure to keep your pooch’s face dry at all times. Whether it is after a bath, swim, after a meal — keep the folds away from moisture to ensure that there is no build-up of bacteria or yeast infection.

• Routine check: Always be on the lookout for signs of irritation or infection. Pugs have a highly sensitive skin and are prone to Demodectic Mange, a skin disease that compromises the immune system. Consult your vet if you see any inflammation or extreme redness.


• Don’t forget those ears: Skin infection can also happen inside those doggie ears. Use doggie ear wipe to gently clean the outer part of the ear as a general routine. Consult your vet if there are symptoms of ear infection such as redness, ear discharge, itchiness, etc.

Some people go around feeding street dogs. Doesn’t that increase the street dog problem?

No. Street dog populations are created and sustained by garbage, not by handouts from kind-hearted people. In fact, people who feed dogs generally get them vaccinated and neutered as well, so the population would actually decrease where dogs are being fed. However, feeding should be done in a responsible manner so that it does not cause any disturbance to the public.

How should I make my dog stop eating my cat’s food?

Dogs are not picky eaters and eat whatever comes in their way. Although a light snack of the cat’s food will not harm them, it becomes a habit. The cat will not be getting its full diet. Following are some tips that can make sure your dog does not eat cat’s food.

• Set a specific time to feed your cat and remove the leftover food after its done eating. This ensures that there is not any leftover food that the dog can snack upon, and also teaches the cat that food will not be available whole day and he will eat it all when it is available.

• Keep the cat food at an elevated level. Cats are natural climbers, whereas dogs are not, so this ensures the cat that its food is safe and out of reach of the dog.

• Feed the cat in a separate room. If possible, you can also put a small flap in the door so that the cat always has access to the food whereas the dog does not.

My puppy just got a vaccine and has been increasingly moody for the last few days. He also has persistent nasal discharge. Is this normal behaviour?

Common side effects of vaccination include — Sleepy, depressed puppies; Moodiness; Non-painful lump at the site of injection; Nasal or ocular discharge.

These symptoms usually clear up themselves. However, if the nasal discharge thickens, or becomes greenish or yellowish, it may be a sign of a bacterial infection. This may require antibiotic medication.

However, you need to be careful about an anaphylactic attack. In case of an attack, your dog must be immediately taken to a vet. Often the reaction occurs in the vet clinic (sometimes within seconds of vaccination) or soon after the animal has left the clinic, although it can take up to 24 hours to manifest (so you should keep a close eye on the animal at home). The vet will usually rush the dog straight out to a treatment room, where it will receive oxygen, IV fluids, anti-histamines, adrenaline, anti-inflammatory and sometimes other drugs to aid in the treating of low blood pressure.

Never give more than one vaccine at a time. I know of dogs that have died after getting more than one.


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