Know Your Pooch
Change of weather affects your pooch too
A prolonged winter is now bidding adieu and summer is knocking at the door. This is the season when most of us develop allergies. Likewise, dogs are no exception. They develop allergies and also catch infestation of many external parasites like ticks, fleas or mites. The advent of spring heralds new dawn for most of the living being and it is time for them to multiply. In that process many of the external parasites look for new hosts to gorge on the blood and make merry.
In other words your pooch needs your more attention at this time of the season. Poor souls do not have a spoken language to express their anguish! You have to hazard a guess by his excessive scratching or shaking of head or trying to bite his own skin or lick his paws till they bleed. If you are alert and know that all such signs indicate something wrong, you can take steps and get the dog examined and treated by a Vet. Like a human doctor, a Vet too is hard pressed for time. Therefore, when you take your dog to him be specific, instead of narrating, ‘till a few days ago he was perfectly alright, but one day he picked up something from the road and gulped it and developed an upset tummy and now he has started to scratch all over. I think it is because of the thing he ate the other day’. Well your narrative is only going to complicate the issue. The main problem was that your dog was scratching a lot.
After the dog has been seen by a Vet, he is prescribed some medicines. I have found ninety nine percent dog owners telling the Vet that their dog does not allow a tablet to be administered. ‘He bit my daughter’s hand as she tried to force a tablet in his mouth’. Such expressions are quite common. But the Vet has to cure the dog, so he prefers to do it in a faster way by administering injectable medicines. And there lies the real trauma for the dog. An injection is scary for many of us humans, and for the majority of dogs it is not merely scary it is traumatic. The Vet’s assistant muzzles the dog and holds him tight with the owner’s help and thereafter the Vet is able to administer the injectable. Even after a single experience the dog gets so much traumatized that the moment he is near the Vet’s clinic he starts resenting.
However, the readers must be thinking that so many problems have been narrated but no solution has been given! I am not a Vet; hence about the treatment part I will not suggest anything. However, having reared dogs for more than sixty years I can vouch that if you follow my suggestions your dog’s life will be simpler, with much less trauma. From the day one, when you bring the new pup home, make it a routine to stroke his entire body daily at a particular time, may be before his meal! This will help you to examine him completely and in case there is an external parasite, like a tick you will be able to feel it. In case there is a rash on the skin, you will not miss it. Please do look under the ear flaps too. Generally dogs develop middle ear or outer ear infections and they go unnoticed, till the dog starts shaking his head repeatedly or even rub his ear on the ground. Since this examination will be followed by his meal, he will willingly accept it. The meal will be a reward for him
I have already discussed in this column in the past that the dogs are creatures of routine and they learn by association of ideas. Hence you’re any action or command when fulfilled and if followed by a meal or a tidbit, in other words a reward, your pooch will willingly accept it. As the puppy grows steadier on his feet, spread a towel or a mat on a table and teach him to stand on it. Each time he stands, reward him with loving words and a small tidbit. In this position you can examine him better. You can also use this session to groom him with a brush. First brush against the growth of the hair, and then in the direction of the hair. This not only removes dead hair, but also brings a shine on your pooch’s coat. Wipe his eyes daily with a moist cotton and then gently wipe them dry. You can also wipe clean the ear flaps. Never try to reach inside the ear, let that part be cleaned/examined by a trained person. Make the dog sit on the table. Lift his paws one by one, check the space between the digits and in case of any soreness, and consult your vet. Please also look for any soreness or parasite underneath the tail.
Thereafter comes a slightly tricky operation. To begin with, on day one just put your right hand around his muzzle and hold both the upper and lower jaws shut between your fingers. All the time keep talking sweetly to your pooch and stroke his forehead and neck with the free hand for a few seconds. Keep a tidbit ready and the moment you release his muzzle offer him the treat on your open palm. He will in two days let you hold his muzzle comfortably and wait quietly for that treat. On day three, instead of holding the muzzle shut, put your right palm on the top of the muzzle and gently press from the sides the spot where his upper and lower jaws meet, push your thumb in his mouth and gently press it against his palette. In this position a dog can neither bite nor close his mouth. Once again the moment you take out your thumb, offer him the treat, praise him a lot. Repeat it for three days.
Now your pooch is conditioned to accept pills. Hold a small piece of biscuit or any of his favorite tidbit between your fore and middle fingers of left hand. Hold his mouth open by pushing the thumb of your right hand as explained above. Push your two fingers with the treat in his mouth up to very slightly beyond the middle of his tongue and drop it there. Now shut his muzzle as you did on day one and gently stroke his throat downwards, till you feel that he has gulped the treat. Repeat this exercise as a routine and your dog will willingly accept a pill. First push the pill in his mouth like the treat and immediately follow it with a treat.
Administering liquid medicines and injections is slightly tricky. Make the dog sit on the table as usual, hold his muzzle shut. With one finger pull the skin outwards from the spot where the upper and lower jaws meet. This will form a small cup. Pour the liquid gently and slowly in this cup. To begin with try with sugar syrup. Once the dog had it, reward him with a tidbit of his choice. Practice for a few days and your dog will be conditioned to accept tablets or liquid medicines easily. Injections have to be given by the Vet. There too the dog’s habit of sitting/standing on a table will come handy. Just hold the dog gently but firmly. If you are not confident, let the dog be muzzled. The moment Syringe is taken out by the Vet offer your pooch a reward of his choice. Soon you will see that he accepts the needle willingly.
By explaining all these things I do not mean that all the medicines and injections will be required for your dog. But being a living being he may fall sick, especially in this season, when the cold weather is bidding adieu, he will not have the additional stress of forced medication.