On its third anniversary, BD block-based pet accessory shop Animel Planet had organised a three-day-long pet awareness camp, covering three different aspects of pet health.
Pet owners often feed pets the same food that they themselves eat. But experts say this is inadequate. “Since seven human years is equal to one dog year one has to understand that dogs grow that much faster than humans. They cannot get adequate nutrients from human food,” said Gautam Munshi Roy of Canobits, the pet food division of Pfizer.
In fact, he added that one needs to be careful even when feeding them packaged food. “Most packaged food, being dry, lacks the water present in home-cooked food. So those feeding pets dry food must ensure they drink ample water, else their liver or kidney could get damaged,” he said, displaying their range of food with natural preservatives which helps the body absorb nutrients even if the pet is reluctant to drink much water. “With natural preservatives, the pet produces less stool and the stool has less odour than usual too.”
Dr Jiyaul Hoque, of Pedigree, added that pet owners should not offer pets chocolates and sweets. “They are like slow poison for dogs. On the contrary, they need 12 times more calcium, proteins and vitamins than what home-cooked food offers.”
While people can brush their teeth after meals, it isn’t common to see pets getting their teeth brushed daily. No wonder, Dr Hoque said that most dogs get dental problems by the age of three.
“Most pets are fed home-cooked food, which is moist and sticks to the teeth. This creates tartar, which can cause cavities.” He offered DentaStix, which are hard cross-shaped chew sticks that rub off 80 per cent of tartar if chewed after dinner. “It is equivalent to us brushing twice a day. Instead of rewarding them with biscuits for a trick, give them this stick, which they will enjoy and which will help them.”
The doctor preferred to use the term oral hygiene instead of dental hygiene, since food decaying in the mouth also leads to bad breath. The doctor felt that oral hygiene awareness is very poor in India. “People remember to get their pets’s nails and hair trimmed once in a while but forget to care for their teeth on a daily basis.”
Monsoon and summer are the two seasons when your pets are most threatened by ticks and fleas. Ticks are parasites that live on the pet’s body while fleas bite the pet and fly away. Both are the size of houseflies and suck the pet’s blood, causing anaemia and skin problems. The parasites also jump from one animal to another like in the case of lice.
The parasites breed during monsoon and thrive in the summer humidity. “If you take your dog out for walks, there is a high chance that he will pick up ticks and return. They thrive in the dog’s surroundings too. If your dog has 10 ticks on him, there will be 200 in the sofa, carpet etc,” says Satyajit Purkait, Bayer animal health manager.
The ticks do not usually bite humans but could suck the life out of your pet. In order to protect your pet, you must keep him clean. There are special products to protect against parasites such as soaps, powders and shampoos. There are also medicated cat collars that kill parasites. Purkait mentioned Advantix, a medicated drop that needs to be applied on a pet. “It spreads on its own and kills ticks present on the coat and kills any fleas that come to bite.”
He added that pet owners were gradually becoming more responsible about the health of their loved ones. “The pet industry in India is growing by 30 per cent a year. While Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore have the highest number of pets in India, the expenditure on pets is highest in Bangalore, Mumbai and then Delhi. Calcutta ranks fourth. The average expenditure on a Bangalore pet is Rs 3,000 a month,” said Purkait.