Pet care: The right way

Published On: July 8, 2016 09:38 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Veterinary physician, Swayam Prakash Shrestha reveals that the state of a pet can actually tell a lot about its owner. Fortunately in his two decades experience running a vet clinic, he can see a distinct increase in the level of awareness among Nepalis when it comes to issues of pet care. Indeed, most pet owners adopt a pet for companionship. While it’s true that your furry pal is cuddly and loyal, you might be overlooking some important things besides the love and comfort you are already providing. There are many instances where pet owners accidentally commit common pet care mistakes. So with the help of Dr Shrestha, The Week brings you a list of common pet care mistakes to be aware of.

Neglecting diet
The diversity in breed and size means that there are unique nutritional requirements among dogs and cats. Completely ignoring the value of a well-balanced diet for your pet can result in long-term harm to their health. Shrestha remembers a time when many Nepali pet owners were depriving their dogs of salt. Apparently, they believed the practice was saving their pets from various skin rashes but in reality it was causing several health problems. A well balanced diet is a must for every pet. The owner must also be wary about the size of the portions they are serving. Obesity too  is a very real threat for many household pets. 

Visiting the vet only when the pet is sick
Vets play a crucial role in the welfare of the pet. Timely health examination will greatly benefit pets especially as it grows older. It is highly recommended to take your pet to the clinic regularly, around twice a year because it prevents unwanted conditions from getting worse. If the symptoms just started to show, it is most likely your furry friend has been sick for quite some time. Unlike people, most pets have a tendency to mask their unease. If not detected early, it will only prolong suffering and will gravely affect the pet’s longevity.

Skipping the exercise
In addition to wholesome diet, your pet needs appropriate exercise, which helps to optimize its physical and mental harmony. It strengthens bones and muscles, reduces digestive problems and enhances brain function. Without activity, they can resort to destructive behaviors like digging and scratching or develop attention-seeking behaviors like excessive barking for dogs. Thus Shrestha also wants people to consider the size of their compound before deciding on what kind of dog they would like to have. There is no point in owning a German Sherpard for instance, if you live in an apartment. It’s rather unfair to the dog.
Further exercise doesn’t have to be a dull routine. Besides, pets are great exercise buddies. You can take them along for morning walks or midday games of fetch. Athletic pet owners tend to be a bit more adventurous and give their pets swimming lessons. There are expert websites that you can actually refer to for the best exercises for your pet. Vets will be able to give you suggestions on how much activity your pet can handle based on its health condition as well.

Not socializing puppies
A common mistake is failing to socialize dogs while they are puppies. This can often lead to a lack of trust, which can make a dog difficult, if not outright dangerous, around strangers. A few hours of playtime a day will help your dog develop a stronger bond with you, as well as a sense of safety around people. 
Over pampering the puppies
Apparently, Shrestha sees this all the time. Owners are extra attentive to their dogs in the initial stages. The first six months they shower the pets with lots of attention and affection. The pets may even get away with a lot of mischief. However, as the dog grows, they tend to become strict. This sort of change in the owners has actually been found to drive a pet to depression or cause aggressive behavior.

Leaving kids unsupervised with the dogs
Even the most well behaved dog has a tipping point, and leave it to a child to find out exactly where it is. Children love pets, but are not always calm about expressing that love, often getting a little too rough, or being too noisy. This could cause the dog to snap at them or knock them over. Always introduce kids to pets and give pointers on how to interact with your dog.
Scolding for accidents 
If your dog has an accident and you did not manage to catch them in the act, the statute of limitations on that crime has already passed. If you attempt to reprimand them for it, you are only going to confuse them. They have no idea why they are being yelled at, regardless of whether you point at the “mistake” or press their face up to it -- they simply won’t get the connection. Just chalk it up to a missed opportunity and keep a better watch out for next time.

Not setting boundaries
Just like kids who need to be told not to jump on the bed, or to keep their elbows off the table, pets need to have some boundaries set for them, otherwise they might begin to exhibit dominant behavior. This will only lead to more problems for you as an owner. Regardless of how cute or how small/big they are, actions such as jumping up, scratching furniture, or peeing inside should not be tolerated.
Leaving dogs alone too long
Dogs are pack animals, which makes them inherently social, so to deny them the company of others for the better part of their waking hours is cruel. Sure, they can handle a couple hours alone in a crate, but after a certain point (7+ hours) they are bound to go a little crazy. Try to figure out a way for someone to pay them a visit during the day to help break the monotony.

Letting dogs eat anything
For whatever reason, some people have the notion that dogs have iron stomachs that can handle anything. That is not true. Just because they will put anything in their mouth, does not mean that they should. Though poultry bones and spoiled food are two items your pet should never have, there are plenty of other foods that dogs should not be given. Familiarize yourself with them and make sure to keep your dog away.

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