Pet Talk
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk

May 26, 2021

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka talks about animal cruelty & advantages of getting a dog / cat neutered

By Maneka Gandhi

Is there evidence of a connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence?

Absolutely. Hundreds of studies in psychology, sociology and criminology, in the past 50 years, have demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescence histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. The connection has been recognised since the 1970s, when its analysis of the lives of serial killers suggested that most had killed or tortured animals as children. Research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of other forms of violence, including child abuse, spousal abuse and elder abuse.

What is considered to be animal cruelty?

Anything that gives an animal pain. Animal cruelty encompasses a range of behaviours harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing. Unintentional neglect could start from tying up a pet the entire day on a roof      or on a balcony. 

Extended periods of neglect can lead to seriously compromised health or even death. Intentional cruelty can run the gamut, from knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, socialisation or veterinary care, to maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating or killing an animal. Institutions, like slaughterhouses, can be the       extreme form of cruelty.

Why do pugs have difficulty in breathing?

Many dogs in these breeds suffer from a disease called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). The compact architecture of their skull results in deformation, which makes their nostrils or soft palate too small, obstructing airflow and leaving the dogs     gasping for breath.

Why are chained dogs more aggressive?

Tethering is not only bad for dogs — it is a high-risk factor in serious dog bites and attacks. Dogs, unable to retreat from perceived or real threats, can act out aggressively when approached. Dogs tethered for long periods can become highly aggressive. Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted with a perceived threat, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. 

A tied dog, unable to take flight, resorts to fight,  attacking any unfamiliar animal or person who wanders into his or her territory. Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often children who approach the dog unaware of the risks. Furthermore, tethered dogs, who finally do get loose from their chains, may remain aggressive and are likely to chase and attack unsuspecting passersby and pets, because they have developed severe behaviour problems from long-term, intensive confinement. It is important for people, who tie dogs up all the time, to understand these risks.

How old does a dog need to be before it can be separated from its mother?

Most veterinarians recommend that puppies be at least 8 weeks old before being separated from its mother and littermates. This ensures the puppy’s best chance for good health, both mentally and physically. The best situation for developing a healthy immune system. And the best assurance that the pup won’t show behaviour problems later in life.

Do dogs only bark when they are upset?

No, that’s only one thing their barks can mean. Barking is a language. Dogs also bark when they want something, like food or a door to be opened, someone’s attention, when they are tied up and unhappy. Sometimes they bark to alert other people and dogs to something or someone they find suspicious. 

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These barks might also be intended to frighten the person or animal whose presence bothers them. They might bark a few times, make a low, drawn out growl, and then resume barking if the person gets more suspicious. These barks can progress into  anger barks.

What are the advantages of getting a dog / cat neutered?

The female animal will live a longer, healthier life. 

Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying the animal before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.

Neutering provides major health benefits for the male. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering the male companion prevents testicular cancer.

The spayed female won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently.

The  male dog won’t want to roam away from home. 

The  neutered male will be much better behaved. Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered cats and dogs may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.

It is highly cost-effective. 

The cost of the animal’s spay/ neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter.

Spaying and neutering the dog/ cat is good for the community. Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of                                         animals on the streets.

Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation. Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanised or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

What are the indications that a dog is dying?

As dogs draw closer to death, they may begin to lose interest in things and people around them. It is normal if your dog no longer wants to play, as they will experience a loss of interest and a decrease in energy levels. Your dog may even stop responding to you or your family members entirely. 

A common reason dogs lose interest, when they are dying, is that their brain functions begin to shut down. They may experience mental confusion that causes them to appear detached. Typically, a dying dog will lie in one place without moving around very much. This place may be a quiet corner of your home or somewhere secluded, and it may not be a spot where they usually lie. Your dog might not even have enough energy to lift their head. A dying dog will experience appetite changes and may lose their appetite entirely. 

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No matter what food or treats you offer, dogs that have lost their appetite will typically refuse both food and water. The closer your dog is to dying, the less of an appetite they will have. In addition to an inability to control their bowels, a dying dog may vomit after eating or drinking. When a dog is dying, they often lose control over their bladder and bowels as their organs begin to shut down. This can lead to peeing or experiencing a bowel movement wherever they are lying. Even if a dog is very well-trained, he may not have the energy to get up to relieve themselves.

Can we make our dog eat only pure vegetarian food?

Yes, a pure vegetarian/ vegan diet can be given do dogs. Rice, lentils and vegetables with curd can be given. Also you can feed your dogs cottage cheese, as it is protein-rich. Soyabean nuggets and curry is a good source of protein. Dry paneer can be given with chapattis, and covers most protein requirements. Green beans and lentils are high on carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Vegetable stew is easy to make and nutritious, and khichdi is good for old and convalescent dogs. If your efforts are met with resistance, tempt your animal friends by serving them warm, or by adding soy milk or nutritional yeast. Dogs require two amino acids, called L-carnitine and taurine, that can be insufficient in plant-based or cooked dog food unless it is supplemented. Sometimes a dog will eat better if he has a mashed, boiled or scrambled egg mixed with the food.

Sometimes my dog digs at the carpet or sofa?

There are a number of possible explanations for this behaviour. Dogs never want to miss a dropped crumb or speck of their favourite, or some other tiny but tasty, tidbit you dropped. With a powerfully strong sense of smell, it may smell food on the couch or buried in the fibres of the carpeting. There may also be an intriguing smell left behind from somebody else, tracked in on a shoe or dropped there, that compels your dog to dig at the carpeting to find out what it is. Every smell tells a story when dog sniffs it. 

At times of high excitement or stress, you may see your dog digging and pawing with no apparent purpose. It may want to chase a bird she sees outside but cannot get to, so instead it digs at the carpet or chair to release some of that anxious energy. Dogs will do strange, and sometimes destructive, things when they get bored, such as tearing apart papers, toys, or chair cushions. Boredom can also cause dogs to dig at the carpet or couch cushions. 

Dogs made their sleeping areas safe and comfortable by digging and rearranging the surface where they slept. It may dig and turn in circles creating a safe space in which to rest. Your dog is not trying to be bad when it digs and scratches at your carpeting or furniture. It is just doing what comes naturally.

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