A pet is a companion animal kept mainly for a person’s company or protection. These are different from livestock, laboratory animals, working animals and sports animals, which are kept and bred principally for performance. Most popular pets have an attractive appearance and are loyal or playful personalities. Pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, white mice, guinea pigs, etc. are commonly kept at home for company. Keeping them is not enough. They need to be taken care of properly. The New Delhi-based Vet, Dr. Gautam Unny explains how to afford tender care to the pets.
Dr. Unny lists some dos and don’ts while adopting pets. He advices, “Space, time, and monetary considerations are the important requirements. Just because your neighbour has a fancy pet you cannot go for them. Find out whether you can do justice to the pet you get. Even the type of flooring can decide if the dog you can keep should be small, medium or large. In small houses, smaller pets do well. If you have time constraints then go for rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. If u can’t walk the pet, keep a cat.”
He explains how important regular health checkups are. He says, “They are very important, especially after the age of 7 years. As a dog turns 7, it is in equivalence to one human year. It ages very fast after 7 years. Yearly blood checkups, x rays for joints and an abdominal x ray are a must.”
There are certain health hazards we need to look out for. Infections in pets as in human beings are seasonal. He informs, “In summers, one needs to look out for ticks and fleas, heat strokes, etc. In pups particularly one needs to guard against parvo and distemper.”
He warns, “In rainy seasons, beware of leptospira that can be fatal. Rabies must be prevented and all dog bites should be taken care of very well. Skin infections that can be prevented are fungal and bacterial. Tick fever is a severe infection that is a constant threat. Tick fever is a protozoal disease where platelet counts fall and could be fatal if not detected early and not treated fast. Ticks can be prevented by sprays, powders, tick collars, shampoos, spot ons, after bath chemicals, etc. Whatever the means it must be effective.”
He lists the important shots that the pet needs to be given. He says, “Regular vaccination is also a must. In dogs we need to give distemper, rabies and corona vaccinations. Optional shots include kennel cough. In cats, we give the tricat and rabies vaccines. In mice and rabbits, etc. we give rabies vaccine alone. Besides, we must remember to deworm all pets every 3 months.”
The food given to them also gains importance as it is through food that nutrition enters their body. He enlightens, “Foods are given in either dry or wet form. Dry foods are available across in at least ten different brands. One can choose according to one’s needs and budget. The available brands are economy, premium or super premium. Wet foods are those that we feed at home and should include one protein, carbohydrate and fat source. Home foods must be balanced. Normally we recommend wet and dry foods, in a 50:50 ratio.”
Besides food, exercise is also of much importance. He says, “Exercise is very important. Obesity is growing among pets because of lack of willingness on the part of the owner to walk in lieu of space and time. Young pets need more exercise to strengthen the joints. Older pets need gentle walks and pets with joint trouble should swim to exercise.”
Alongside exercise, certain medicines are also imperative in the life of a healthy pet because the medicine for one animal could be dangerous for the other. The vet elucidates, “Medications are integral parts of pet rearing, but not without veterinary supervision. A single dose of paracetamol could kill a cat while a simple oral antibiotic like amoxycillin is detrimental to rabbits. Self medication without veterinary consultation is not advisable.”
Emergencies are a part of life, where animals are concerned. The doctor explains, “There are specialist veterinary emergency consultation clinics in all cities. Normally each vet will provide the owners with a vet emergency consult clinic number. First and foremost don’t panic, Take a deep breath. See if your pet is stable and try to contact your vet. Remember that a panic stricken pet, in pain can bite so do be careful.”
However, the vet is of the opinion that emergencies can be prevented. He adds, “To a great extent they can be prevented if you train your pet well. Untrained pets pull on their leash and tend to get into fights or under vehicles. They also steal food and eat all sort of rubbish and scavenge. So be extra careful. A well trained dog is an asset.”
This article was first published in Eve’s Times magazine and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor, Swati Amar.