Their Health in Your Hands
Samridhi Goyal talks to Dr. B.C. Jha from Advanced Pet Care Hospital to find out how to better take care of a pet.
When we decide to adopt a pet, we promise to look after it for life. But, what exactly does it entail in terms of care, food, and nutrition, and what are the common problems to be faced health-wise, and how to take care of them? We take a look.
As a young kid, I remember my sister giving sweets to our dog on the occasion of Tihar. Needless to say, the dog was down with stomach issues the next day. It was done by a nave child but it just underlines the fact that a pet’s physiology and anatomy is different from ours, and hence we need to be vigilant as to how we treat it. Here are things you should know if you want to take better care of your precious pet.
Apples: Apples are good for humans as they contain vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, flavinoids, and such. However, their seeds contain a certain form of cyanide which humans can filter and dogs and cats can’t. Also, too many apples lead to diarrhea in dogs, and due to high sugar content, it leads to obesity. Watermelons, honeydew, and cantaloupes are fruits healthy for pets.
Nuts: Though nuts are good for human health, large amounts of nuts for pets can cause stomach ache, pancreatitis, intestinal blockages, and so on. Macadamia nuts are poisonous too.
Grapes and raisins: They are toxic for cats and dogs causing digestive and kidney problems.
Milk: Dogs and cats become lactose intolerant as they grow, says Dr. B.C. Jha of Advanced Pet Care Hospital, even though they seem to like it. For cats, you get special lactose-free cat milk. Yogurt and plain ice cream once in a while maintain the required levels. Cheese in small quantity is good too.
Dry food: These are especially good as they allow dogs and cats to chew and fight tartar. Besides, they allow for easy storage.
Bones: Bones for dogs should be hard, well sterilized, and in most cases, well roasted.
Water: Dogs should drink an ounce of water per pound of their body weight. Their drinking habits change according to the weather. It is also comforting to know that they do not lose electrolytes from their body. Cats derive most of their water from the moisture in their food and require only about 60 ml/kg of body weight.
Pumpkin: A small spoon or two is good for dogs, especially for treating constipation and diarrhea.
Food supplements: Pets on special diets—raw, vegan, dry exclusively—may need supplements but they need to be approved by the vet because self-supplementation can lead to various issues of bone, kidney, and such.
Oatmeal: Rice is good for dogs, especially those with allergies or sensitive stomachs. Apart from that, oatmeal is a good source of fiber and helps proper bowel movements.
Sweet potatoes: Sliced and dehydrated, they are good chewable food for dogs. They are good source of vitamin B6, beta carotene, and vitamin C.
Bananas: Bananas are full of nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and they are good for pets. However, due to high sugar content, they are used occasionally in little quantities as treats.
Broccoli: They are good source of greens for cats, especially if they are prone to feasting on poisonous household plants. They need to be boiled before consumption.
Common Health Issues
Pet dermatitis: It could be due to flea bites, trapping of moisture in the skin folds of obese pets, and growth of bacteria, as well as seasonal allergies. The treatment for fleas can be running a comb dipped in limewater or vinegar through the dog’s hair. Prescription medicines can be used to treat fleas effectively too.
If the dog has allergies, it is important to identify the allergen and limit exposure to it. Use of antihistamines and corticosteroids is prevalent too. Good diet is also important to boost the immune system and keep it in top shape. One of the most common allergies is ear infection, and one must try and prevent it.
Bacterial infections occur when accumulation of moisture leads to yeast overgrowth. One might have to undertake a course of antibiotics or use topical medicine. One might have to irrigate the ear canal if the ear is involved.
Alopecia: This term refers to unnatural hair loss in dogs and cats due to mange which is an infection caused by mites. The best treatment is to clean the area regularly and try not to let the infection spread. Vets prescribe prescription medicines and ointments for treatment. Diluted sulfurated lime, applied weekly and biwee, also works as a remedy.
Arthritis: Like humans, pets too suffer from old age problems, and one of them is arthritis. For managing this disease, the important thing is weight loss, which can be achieved through proper diet control. Pets need to be exercised regularly but not too rigorously. Analgesics and corticosteroids are also used for pain management.
Pet tartar: Older pets tend to suffer from dental tartar. Different gels and prescription sprays are used to treat it. Severe cases are treated by the vet where they are put under anesthesia and their teeth are cleaned through scaling.
Obesity in pets: Due to solitary lifestyle and lack of proper nutrition, 20% of pets tend to be obese. To combat this issue, pets need to get enough exercise and eat a healthy well balanced diet.
Diarrhea: Due to wrong food choices or intestinal parasites, pets tend to have smelly, tarry, watery stools. To overcome this issue, a bland diet should be followed and a stool test should be done to identify parasites; de-worming medicines may need to be administered.
Pet skin: The skin of pets, according to Dr. B. C. Jha, is almost 1/10th the skin of humans and hence, highly sensitive. A cat’s teeth do the job of keeping its fur clean. Hence it licks itself. Usually, one should bathe pets only once a month and just brush their mane at other times. Only if the pet is extremely dirty should you give him a bath because soap irritates the skin.