Taking care of your pet: The basics

By Olu Anthony

Having a pet sounds interesting and fun. But adopting a pet and taking care of them is a big responsibility. Dr. Aruna Chandrasiri, a veterinary surgeon and Pet Plus Animal Hospital (Pvt.) Ltd. Director, joined Little Stars for a discussion on how we can take care of our pets better and what signs we should keep an eye on to identify any issue or discomfort our pets might be going through.

Doctor, what do you think are the best breeds of dogs to be raised in an environment with small children?

That’s a very good question and one of the main questions people ask in a clinic. If you’re going to choose a dog for the kids, you need to know the temperament of the dog breed. Basically, labrador retriever, golden retriever, and beagle are the best breeds to have in an environment with kids.

How fast should a newly adopted puppy be brought to a vet?

Puppies shouldn’t be taken away from their moms at least until the pup is one-and-a-half months old, because that is the earliest age we can separate them from their mother. As soon as they bring the pet to the house, they need to go to a vet and discuss how to give vitamins, food, etc. and how to take care of the pet. The vet will inform them of the procedure.

What are some of the basic signs that can be noticed in an unwell dog?

It depends on the illness. There are many kinds of diseases. If the dog is unwell, the dog stops playing, shows lethargic signs without moving, and shows signs of a bit of fever. Inside the ear pinna, you can feel the fever.

Another sign is that they refuse food. For example, labrador retrievers are greedy dogs. If that kind of dog refuses food, there is something wrong.

Is it true that dogs shouldn’t be fed cooked bones? If so, why is that?

We don’t recommend giving them bones because when they bite the bones once or twice, it gets sharp edges. When they swallow them, these sharp edges can damage the intestines.  This situation is called intestinal perforation. Food material can be leaked into the peritoneum. This is a very serious condition called peritonitis due to which most probably the dog will die.

What are some of the foods that should not be given to pets?

We ask people not to give chocolates and grapes to pets. They have chemicals that can damage the kidney.

What should we do if a dog eats an insect or an animal they find in the garden?

Dogs are carnivores, so it doesn’t matter. But some can be toxic. Some lizards and some insects. Later they can develop allergies or sicknesses. So, if the toxin is harmful, it can damage the internal organs. The toxicity and the danger of the situation can only be determined after the pet eats the animal, so it’s always better to be careful.

What are the protocols that should be followed after a dog is vaccinated?

You have to keep the dog dry for three days before giving it a bath. Not many symptoms come with the vaccines, so if you notice your pet being lethargic or having fever, you should attend to it. Otherwise, no reactions come after the vaccination.

When it comes to tick fever, how do we avoid this issue?

If you want to know what tick fever is, it is a kind of blood-borne parasite. They inject that parasite into the bloodstream while they are sucking the blood from the animal. Once they get to the bloodstream, they multiply there, and ultimately the dog gets tick fever. There are different kinds of tick fever. If you want to avoid your pet having tics, there are so many tropical applications such as Spot On and Pour-On. If not, we can give them something to eat. There are different kinds of medicines. These are good for the dogs, but I’ve also witnessed some allergic reactions, so you need to be careful. If you know your pet is allergic to some kind of drug, it’s always better to discuss with your vet before you give the medicine.

What are some tick fever signs?

The pet becomes lethargic, develops a fever, and will be completely anorexic, refusing all food. You would see a pale tongue, pale gums, and pale ear pinna. This is a very dangerous disease that needs immediate attention.

What are some of the serious health issues that dogs may face?

Most often dogs get serious problems in their guts – the gastrointestinal tract. This is called parvovirus infection. If you notice vomiting and loose motion of your pet, you need to attend to it immediately because otherwise it could be fatal.

What procedure should be followed with a sick pet?

Get the treatment first and then follow it up with good care. If the pet is refusing to eat, you have to prepare something the pet likes and force-feed it. Also, give fluids such as Jeewani. Don’t let the pet get dehydrated. This may lead to blood stimulation being concentrated to one place, making it problematic to the kidney and liver. Keep your dog hydrated by clinical methods or orally at home.


Illustration: Dilmi Amarasinghe