Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

November 13, 2019

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka explains about the precautions to be taken when rescuing feral cats

By Maneka Gandhi

How long does teething in dogs last?

Weeks 2 to 4: Your puppy will still be with his mother and breeder when his baby teeth start coming in. At this point, his eyes will have opened and he’ll still be nursing.

Weeks 5 to 6: By now all of your puppy’s baby teeth should have come in. Dogs usually have about 28 baby teeth in total. Around this time, the breeder will likely have already, or will, be in the process of weaning the puppies in the litter as they learn to eat moist, soft puppy food.

Weeks 12 to 16: This is around the time you’ll get to take your puppy home with you. This is also the time when you may start to find little crumb to rice-sized teeth around your home, as your puppy’s baby teeth start to shed and permanent adult teeth emerge. 

6 Months and Older: By the time your puppy is about six months old or so, all of his puppy teeth should have fallen out, and his adult teeth should have grown in. In general, adult dogs have about 42 teeth.

Is obesity in a dog harmful? How to help a dog overcome it?

Obesity can cause the following complications in the dog: Extra weight puts extra pressure on a dog’s joints. The cartilage in the joint deteriorates, which leads to arthritis. Sure, we can give pain medications, but weight loss helps significantly.

Too much weight is a well-known risk factor for tearing the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), an important ligament in the knee. A torn ACL must be repaired with surgery.

Weight gain can cause heart disease and high blood pressure. It’s also linked to breathing problems.

The heart and lungs, of overweight and obese dogs, have to work harder during anaesthesia.

Obesity may increase the risk of certain tumours, such as benign fatty tumours (lipomas), as well as breast and bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma).

Overweight dogs have extra skin folds, which can cause irritation and infection by bacteria.

Treatment of obesity in dogs focuses on weight loss, followed by maintenance of a healthy weight for life.

Exercise is as important as diet in reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight.

If your dog eats too fast, a special bowl, that requires the pet to work to get each piece of food, is available at most pet stores. Another good tool is a treat ball that dispenses treats, only if your dog rolls it around.

Dietary changes must be made gradually to avoid upsetting the gastrointestinal tract. Unless your veterinarian instructs otherwise, once a new food is purchased, mix half of the new food with half of the old food and feed this mixture for seven days. Thereafter, you can safely feed the new food only. 

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What special precautions must be taken when rescuing feral cats?

Strays live outdoors. You don’t know what they’re bringing in. Most people think of fleas and ticks, but cats can also carry fatal diseases and parasites. Toxoplasmosis is one such offender and can cause serious health complications, or death. Have the cat thoroughly examined and spayed, or neutered, if this hasn’t already been done.

Stray cats are used to prowling. They may also be used to stealing food, or eliminating wherever and whenever. Purchase vet-recommended food, a litter box, and other essentials, and integrate your cat slowly. Do not punish a cat for accidents, and encourage him or her to eat often, particularly if malnourished. Use food to lure the cat indoors, particularly in cat-accessible places like a porch. However, don’t start petting immediately. Strays may not trust humans and might try to scratch or bite. To build trust, make eye contact with the cat and blink slowly.

My dog is afraid of travelling in the car. I keep the windows closed to keep him confined to the car. What should I do to make him overcome this fear?

There can be various reasons:

Car sickness: Just as people do, some dogs get car sick. They may feel nauseated or even vomit during car rides. 

An unfamiliar feeling:  Dogs that aren’t used to going on car rides may be disturbed by the odd feeling of riding in a car. Cars usually have their own smell, and there’s also the sound of the engine, the vibrations of the floor, and seeing everything whizzing past at a fast speed.

Negative experiences: Some dogs associate the car with negative experiences, which can easily                           develop into a fear.

To helping the dog overcome this fear: Begin by enticing your dog to the car rather than forcing him to approach. Many dogs with this fear start putting on the brakes as soon as the car comes into view. Instead of dragging your dog to the car, slowly lure him closer using lots of treats and praise. 

Have some special bonding time with your dog inside the car. Don’t rush to slam the doors shut and start the engine the minute your dog finally hops inside. Instead, leave the doors open and spend some time snuggling.

Start your engine. When your dog has become fairly comfortable hanging out with you in the car, start it up. 

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Begin with small trips. Don’t make your dog’s first car ride a long road trip.

Take your dog to fun destinations. Your dog’s first long car ride should not be to the veterinarian. Instead, take it someplace fun where he can run around.

What kind of birds can I keep as pets?

None. All birds are wild, whether Indian or exotic, and they belong in the sky. To keep a bird caged is the wickedest thing you can do. Moreover, caging a bird is depriving it of its natural habitat and chaining it. Indian birds are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and all birds are protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

A pet is a companion who brings you happiness and whom you make happy. What happiness can you get from birds when you jail them? They are sad and they hate you and long to die. It just brings bad luck.

Why does my dog not drink enough water?

In most cases, refusal to drink can be linked to an injury near, or inside, of a dog’s mouth. Dogs love to chew on things, particularly objects that are tough enough to give their teeth a challenge. It’s pretty easy for chunks of wood, plastic, or rock, to end up grinding around inside your pet’s mouth, causing small cuts and scrapes that can make it painful to drink. Damaged teeth will also produce very similar effects.

Nerves and anxiety can also cause a loss of thirst and appetite in dogs. These emotions can be linked to a change in surroundings or lifestyle, including new pets or people staying in the house. An absent family member can cause a significant amount of stress as well. In most cases, dogs acclimate to these changes quickly on their own, causing their desire to eat and drink to return after a few days. However, particularly sensitive dogs may need additional assistance to calm down and get well again.

Changes in water can also influence your pet’s willingness to drink. Even small differences in taste and smell can be a big deal for your dog. So, if you’ve swapped using well water to city water, your dogs might not be drinking because they are uncomfortable with it. If this is the case, you can try mixing some bottled water into your dog’s dish to help them get used to the change.

Regardless of why your pet stopped drinking, your next step should be to arrange a check-up with your local vet. They should be able to examine your pet to determine exactly what the trouble is and how you can go about fixing it.

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