Having to stay indoors during the monsoon can be a party pooper. That’s pretty much the same case for our pooches. But this is one of the many problems the season brings for these creatures of habit. With rains come susceptibility to a host of infections, reduced activity and psychological depression for your beloved furry friends. But fret not pooch parents, you can help beat those monsoon blues, with some amount of preparation, precaution and monitoring. Veterinarians and animal behaviourists share some tips.
Much like John Grogan’s Labrador, Marley dreaded those thunderstorms in Marley & Me, storm anxiety can be a nerve-racking experience for some animals. “Not all dogs are affected by the thunder, but if your dog has anxiety issues, then keeping them on mild anti-anxiety pills in consultation with the vet could be an option. If the dog fears thunder, the tail going under the belly area is a common sign. It’s important then to make him or her feel at ease with a pat and a comforting tone,” shares canine behaviourist Aaron Patrick Dsilva. This again is subjective to the kind of dog you have as Hyderabad-based veterinarian Kadambari Venkatraman points out, “There are some dogs that love a comforting hug while there are others that prefer to be left alone during such times. But in either case it’s always best to dim the lights during thunder and lightning; this will help them cope with the stress.”
Come change of season, and pet parents, especially novices, wonder what alterations are required in their dog’s diet. “Besides feeding your dog as per his or her dietary requirements, there’s no need for a turn-on-its-head diet change,” says pet nutritionist, Rashee Kuchroo. A misconception that people however have is that pets don’t drink much water in the monsoon. “Ensure your pet drinks enough water to maintain fluid levels. Replenish and feed your pet the same filtered water you’d drink since the season is a breeding ground for waterborne diseases,” Rashee adds. She suggests not serving water or food in plastic bowls since a host of chemicals could leach in with temperature change. Instead, use steel or ceramic bowls that are washed thoroughly daily.
Surgeon Dr Sagar Bhongle points to some ailments prevalent during the season. “Dogs are susceptible to gastroenteritis resulting from food intake or bacterial/viral infection. Tick infestation that could lead to tick fever is another major concern needing monitoring. The incubation period is around four to five days; post which symptoms like loss of appetite, high fever, fatigue and excessive panting are hints to call for medical attention.” Kenneth D’Souza, who owns a boarding and day care centre, adds, “For our daily experience, the best way to protect dogs is to apply flea and tick treatment solution once every six weeks, which should be done against the direction of fur. Also, only if no tick control method is working, should a tick injection be administered (avoid high-dose frequent administration, especially in younger dogs).
Also, skipping walking your dog in the monsoons is not an option. “There are raincoats available. It’s important to wash your dog’s paws and keep them dry after a walk, besides the mandatory check for fleas and ticks,” says Aaron, adding, “At home, ensure that your dog doesn’t sleep on the bare floor, as that could invite illness.” There are a few more precautions to be taken while walking your dog as city vet Kadambari points out, “Dogs have a tendency of going near water puddles on the road and sniffing. That is very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. There are a number of air-borne diseases that they could catch. For puppies below 4-6 months old, it’s best to avoid much interaction with other dogs as they can easily be affected by Parro virus (a disease mostly noticed in puppies). Also, make sure you use the flea and tick spray on your dog before going to a dog park so as to avoid getting diseases from other dogs.”