Do you give chocolates to your pet? It could kill the furry friend, a vet warns; Learn all about good pet parents here

Dr Vinod Sharma Head of Veterinary Services at DCC Animal Hospital

international dog day is here. Pet Parents cannot be a part-time affair. A pet is like the human baby of the family – precious and nurtured. The human-animal bond that exists between a pet parent and a pet – a dog in most homes with a pet – is stronger than ever. The relationship is more than the satisfaction of keeping a pet happy – it has become an emotional bond that turns a pet into a full member of its family.

Here’s what it takes to keep your baby healthy and happy.

times now: What vaccines should a dog receive and at what stages of its life? Are vaccines the same for all breeds?

Dr Vinod Sharma: When it comes to dogs, there is a basic set of vaccines that are life-saving for everyone, depending on risk of exposure, severity of disease, and transmissibility to other dogs and humans. These are universal for all dogs of all breeds, starting with vaccinations against Distemper and Parvo for puppies. When puppies are a little older, they should also be vaccinated against leptospirosis, adenovirus, parainfluenza, canine coronavirus, kennel cough or Bordetella. A licensed veterinarian will also provide a reminder schedule for necessary vaccinations, depending on the dog’s age and health.

times now: We hear about a disease called Distemper from which some dogs suffer and which is contagious. What causes distemper and what precautions should pet owners take to prevent a pet from contracting this disease?

Dr Vinod Sharma: Distemper is a virus that targets the respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological systems of puppies and dogs. A highly contagious and dangerous disease, it can even be fatal if not caught in time and is as contagious as parvo. Prevention is the best approach as there is no known cure for canine distemper, and once afflicted it can only be treated with supportive care. Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure correct vaccinations at the right time and to ensure that your pet develops a strong immune system. When adopting puppies, pet owners should make sure they are adopting from a good place, with all paperwork and testing in order. Regular examinations with a licensed and experienced veterinarian are essential to prevent this disease.

times now: We hear about rabies, a deadly disease to which the canine population is vulnerable unless vaccinated. What other diseases besides rabies can dogs develop and what precautions can you take to avoid them?

Dr Vinod Sharma: Approximately 59,000,000 deaths are reported each year due to rabies. However, rabies is a preventable disease, and proper care and attention from the start can ensure that the animal does not contract it. Today, we have all the necessary tools, including high quality vaccines, to effectively prevent and eliminate this disease. Vaccination of at least 70% of dogs in risk areas can also reduce human cases of rabies to zero. Additionally, neutering pet dogs and having pet dogs regularly vaccinated by a qualified veterinarian are the best ways to protect against rabies.

Distemper and Parvo are very common viral diseases. Thus, timely vaccinations and ensuring that your dog receives regular booster shots as per the advice of the veterinarian are essential. At DCC, we begin deworming and vaccinations at an early stage for kittens and puppies, and always recommend that pet parents see a trusted, certified veterinarian for pet vaccinations. In fact, the effectiveness of vaccines also depends on certain criteria that make it possible to prevent vaccine failures. These include animal health, age, vaccine storage and vaccine quality.

These diseases can only be prevented by regular and timely vaccinations and by keeping dogs and cats healthy. Just like for us humans, immunity matters a lot for our pets too. Pet parents should treat their pets like family and be responsible for their health and immunity, to ensure they live long, healthy and happy lives.

times now: What food is good for dogs: homemade Indian khana and meat, eggs, etc. or kibbles wrapped in meat, chicken flavors, etc., wrapped in bags?

Dr Vinod Sharma: Food plays an extremely important role in a dog’s life. In addition to adopting pets at the right age, pet parents should ensure that a dog’s diet is created in consultation with a certified veterinarian, as human foods, spices and oils can be extremely harmful to dogs. Home cooked meals should be free of any artificial additives or flavorings and only boiled in water or as prescribed by a physician. When buying kibble and dog food, pet owners should also check the labels to make sure they are certified and contain no ingredients not intended for dogs.

It’s time: Do ready-to-eat foods cause cancer in dogs?

Dr Vinod Sharma: Packaged dog foods are created to provide balanced nutrition for dogs of all ages. However, many pet owners also want to feed their canine companions fresh, homemade food. So, as we mentioned earlier, it’s always best to ask your vet what ingredients are allowed and required in their diet. This is especially important because many pets are also allergic to certain things, and frequent changes in diet can lead to digestive issues. Over time, this can erode their immune system, which can cause vaccines to fail or, in the worst case scenario, cause them to contract a serious illness.

times now: When a pet parent cooks for the pet, what should not be added to the pet’s food? Are salt, chocolates, spices… bad for dogs?

Dr Vinod Sharma: Foods containing spices, salt, sugar and other preservatives are not recommended for pets. Most human foods in general are not suitable for a dog’s digestive system. Chocolates can even be lethal to dogs. Therefore, pet owners should always consult a licensed veterinarian about their pet’s diet and should only purchase treats made specifically for dogs or cook them themselves at home.

times now: Please share any other ideas you may have that would be helpful to pet parents.

Dr Vinod Sharma: Ultimately, our pets are quite similar to humans in the kind of attention, care, and regular medical checkups they need. Proper nutrition, along with timely vaccinations and exercise can help keep your pet in good shape and lead to a long and happy life. I would also like to mention that during holidays most people leave their pets at the Kennels boarding house, so make sure the place should be carefully selected in terms of hygiene as it plays a very important role.

times now: Thank you, Dr. Sharma.

Dr Vinod Sharma: You’re welcome.

Disclaimer to ensure the good health of your pet: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any change in the pet’s diet or health regimen.

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