A dog snuggling up to you, craving belly rubs, can be a real stress-buster, especially when you are working from home and managing multiple fronts. Of the different trends witnessed during the pandemic-initiated lockdown in Chennai, a notable one is an increase in the demand for puppies.
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“The demand for apartment dogs such as Labrador, Husky and Golden Retriever has increased by more than fifty per cent during the past six months. People from all walks of life are showing interest in buying or adopting a dog,” says Gokulraj Dharmalingam, a dog breeder.
But how many of us know how to take care of a pet? It takes certain knowledge and experience to be a responsible pet parent and that’s the reason you will see a flood of queries and doubts shared by new pet parents on social media channels. We spoke to some animal activists and veterinarians in the city to put out a comprehensive guide for new pet parents.
Why native breeds?
Like in any other city, there is always a special demand for exotic, breed dogs in Chennai. However, veterinarians strongly recommend adopting or buying native (Desi) breeds.
“Desi breeds require less maintenance as they have strong immunity level and are less prone to genetic disorders. Pugs, Huskies and Rottweilers are very vulnerable to sudden retinal degeneration; owners of these pets visit hospitals more often than those who have Desi breeds,” says Sathish Kumar, a private veterinary doctor.
Indie breeds such as Kanni, Chippiparai and Indian Pariah dogs have high survival power and if trained well, can make friendly pets. But why don’t most people go for these Indian breeds?
“Most people buy a foreign breed dog to show off. This mindset can be changed if media helps send out the right messages. Portraying Indian breed dogs in movies, for example, can bring about a drastic change. Indian Army and Bomb Squad units have started training native breeds, which will hopefully bring about positive change in time,” feels Jayanth Prakash, an animal rights activist.
When you buy/ adopt a puppy
- Do not buy a puppy which is less than 45 days old. Staying with the mother when they are young helps the puppy learn socialisation and behavioural skills.
- If the mother has passed away or if there is a situation calling for separation of the puppy from the mother, ensure they remain indoors till they are 45 days old. Puppies cannot be vaccinated until they are at least 45 days old and leaving them outside makes them vulnerable to life-threatening diseases such as Parvo and canine distemper.
- For newly acquired animals from the streets, deworming should be done immediately under the supervision of a veterinarian. A blood test can reveal if it has other ailments and the attention it needs.
- Deworming should be done when puppies/ kittens are at the age of two, four, six, eight, twelve and sixteen weeks. For adult pets, deworm once in six months.
- Vaccinate the puppy once it is 45-days-old. Anti-Rabies Vaccine and 7-in-1 vaccine that protects the pets from Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Corona Viral Enteritis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis are mandatory.
- If you are adopting a dog from a trusted source, get the vaccination records from them.
There is resentment towards pets and pet owners in many apartments. However, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a statutory body established in terms Section 4 of Prevention of cruelty to animals act issued guidelines in this aspect.
- No building association can legally ban people from having a pet, even by obtaining consensus among all others or a majority of residents.
- Barking is a natural form of expression for a dog and must be tolerated in society. But as incessant barking can disturb neighbours, pet owners should take every effort to keep their dogs quiet, especially during night hours.
- Pet owners/ dog walkers must have the civic sense of cleaning up after them in public places. Ensure that your pet doesn’t dirty the common space in an apartment.
- Always keep your pets on leash in public places.
- No apartment association or a resident welfare association can debar you and your pets from taking the lift. However, do not object to the use of alternative lifts if there is more than one lift in accessible condition.
Social media sites to post queries on dogs
List of reliable veterinary hospitals in Chennai
|Madras Veterinary College Hospital (open 24*7), Vepery||044 2530 4000|
|Camp Road animal hospital, Tambaram||9444191634|
|SKS pet Hospital, Abiramapuram||8680070001|
|Pasteur pet clinic, Greenways Road||9884148800|
|Sanchu Animal Hospital, Adyar||94451 60101|
|Thanigal Pet care clinic, Velachery||9884640452|
|JP pet speciality hospital, Adyar||04424411909/ 9444385393|
|Paws and claws vet clinic, T Nagar||09566176832|
|Raksha Pet clinic, Chrompet||09840884426|
In case of an emergency or a life-threatening condition, pet owners can also avail the Animal Mobile Medical Ambulance (AMMA) facility by calling the toll free number – 1962
How to prepare your pet for a post-COVID situation?
Our pets have become so accustomed to having us at home all the time. In fact, for pups who have been adopted over the last five months, they have never been alone at home, without their parents. So how will they deal with the situation when their human has to go back to office?
Veterinary doctors admit that the dogs will have a difficult time dealing with the absence of the owner. “They will have separation anxiety and show a drastic change in behaviour. Reduction in food intake and the problem with sleep could be signs,” says Dr Mohamed Shafiuzama, Professor of Surgery and Chief Consultant at Camp road animal Hospital, Tambaram.
It takes a few days of discipline to prepare the pets to be independent. “A month before changing the routine, we should gradually reduce the time spent with the pet. Leave them alone for a few hours initially. If this is done continuously, they will be prepared for long hours of absence,” Dr Shafiuzama suggested.
How to choose a boarding facility?
Citizens who test positive for COVID-19 and need to be hospitalised are leaving their pets in boarding facilities. But even otherwise, in normal circumstances, there may be scenarios — for example when you have to travel on work or with family — when boarding facilities become critical.
How does one choose a proper boarding facility for the furry friend? Here is an explainer.
- Visit the boarding facility personally. Do not go by social media posts.
- Ask the management of the facility for a trade license, a license from the State Animal Welfare Board and certification from GST council.
- When you visit the facility, observe the kennels and the behaviour of other dogs. If, for example, you find that most of the dogs in these kennels have not consumed their food, it could mean that the quality is substandard.
- Talk to the caretaker at length. The way he/she behaves with the pets can reveal their concern for animals.
- Do not compromise on hygiene as it can lead to your pet contracting diseases. Ask the owners how they ensure that the dogs do not catch a tick infestation during the stay. Observe the walls and gates of the kennel to ensure they are tick free.
- Check if the kennels are fumigated.
- See if there is an additional platform for the pet to sit comfortably on, while the kennel is being cleaned.
- Know where the food is being cooked.
- Boarding facilities often charge you a bomb. So it is your duty to ask for facilities such as live CCTV monitoring and air-conditioned rooms.
- Choose a facility in a pet-friendly neighbourhood.
- Check if the caretakers in these centres take the pets out for a walk at least twice a day.
- It is a hard on your dog to have to part with you. So when you decide on the boarding facility, do not leave them at the entrance and leave. Leave the pet at the kennel and stay for some time, till he/ she gets comfortable.
|Sakunthala’s pet stay||7904145642|
|Benzi pet stay||9884780654|
|Happy Paws pet homestay||9962533570|