Rainy Days!!

The rainy season has officially started. Beautiful cool breeze and plush greenery everywhere!!! Such a beautiful time for long drives, walks in the rain and weekend vacations. Unfortunately, it is not such a good time for your pet. Humidity, mugginess, and dampness are the order of the day. During such a time, it is important to take good care of your pet. Wet fur and muddy paws can cost your pet a lot irritation and discomfort during the wet season. Fungal, yeast, and bacterial infections are most common during the wet season and may prove fatal for your pets. Proper care, good diet, and careful monitoring of your pet are important, to ensure a carefree and fun monsoon. In this newsletter has a few pointers on how to avoid infections and getting your pet to enjoy the season as much as you.

A few basic precautions can help your pet to have an infection free, fun monsoon-

Keeping the fur dry- It is most important to keep the fur dry in the rainy seasons. Damp fur is a welcome platform of different bacteria and fungi to set in. Wiping your pet and drying him completely is a mandate after a walk. You can even blow dry your pet with a hair dryer and it works well on the long coated variety. Just hold the dryer a few inches away from the skin and keep running your fingers through the hair as you dry it. A bath in this season can be quite messy as the coat make take quite some time to dry. Dry shampoo, available in any pet shop, can help to clean your pet during the season, thus keeping the dampness away.

Cleaning the ears- Regular cleaning of the ears during the wet season can help prevent many ear infections. In dogs with closed ears like Labradors, Cocker Spaniels etc, moisture sets in, which along with ear wax can cause infections. Keeping the ear dry and airing the ears  can help. It is also important to ensure that the ears are neatly dried after a rainy walk. I have a Labrador at home, and during the monsoons, when it is very moist, I clean the ears with a plain cotton swab and tie my dog’s ears above, like a ponytail. It helps to get the necessary air. Although funny, it keeps those dangerous infections away.

Cleaning the paws- Just as the ears, dog paws are equally sensitive and open to infection. Cleaning the paws after the walk with a clean dry cloth, between the paw pads and around the nails can prevent many skin infections, diseases and can control ticks. On walks, he may walk through puddles, wet grass, or even muck. This is usually the main reason behind the infection. Drying and wiping them clean is again the solution. If your dog is constantly licking on his/ her paws, ensure that they are cleaned properly. It may be a sign of an upcoming infection. If you have a long haired dog like the cocker spaniel or an Irish Setter, you could even consider trimming the hair around the paws so that you can clean better.

Activities- Outdoor activities reduce largely during the monsoons. However, it is important that your pet gets a daily dose of activities. Walking is a good way to ensure that your pet has had enough exercise. Long walks in the beautiful weather are just perfect. If you have a covered parking area, a quick game of fetch or running around the parking lot will be a good enough exercise to substitute the long walks. Try taking the steps instead of the elevator.

Food- Another important factor to be concerned about is your dog’s food. Some dogs grow an allergy to certain foods during the monsoons. So it becomes important to observe your dog’s appetite, poop, and digestion. Some dogs eat a lot of grass this season. This is normal as it provides them the fiber required by their bodies. However, if you do not want your dog to eat grass, it is best to increase fiber content in their diet. Fruits like banana can also provide the required conditions for good  digestion.Many dogs could also grow an allergy to milk. In such a case, substitute milk with buttermilk. It is lighter and healthier for your pet. A well-balanced and controlled diet can do a lot for your dog in the wet season. In addition, if your dog is used to longer exercise routines like swimming, hill walking etc, the rains might hamper this activity. In such a case, you might want to consider curtailing his food intake, as s/he might not get the opportunity to burn all the fat. Store the excess dog food in proper food containers as that could also catch moisture and the fungus could set it.

Dry bedding-Provide your pet warm, clean, and dry bedding. If your pet spends a lot of time outdoors or in the balcony/terrace, ensure he has a well-covered resting area/space/kennel, which does not get wet with the rain coming down in any directions. Make sure his water bowl is by his side and under a covered area. Comfortable bedding is necessary as the cold flooring may cause some harm to his joints. You might have to change the bedding frequently, as that can also be a breeding ground for bacteria if kept wet for too long.

Infections to look out for

Any infection can be very uncomfortable for dogs. Smelly ears, itching, scratching, or constant licking of the body are a few indications that your dog maybe suffering of allergies or infections. It is necessary to keep an alert eye if your pet is continuing any of the above over a normal period.

Itchiness is not only the result of allergies but it may also be bacterial. It is important to realize that many superficial skin infections, or hot spots, are often caused by an underlying problem related to your dog’s skin or excess moisture that is unable to escape from the skin’s surface. These can include, but are not limited to allergies, insect bites, and fleas. Most fungal infections in dogs are a result of yeast that embeds itself in the moist areas of a dog’s body-armpits, ears, and deep folds in the skin. Dogs with a short snout such as pugs and boxers, tend to get it in the folds above their nostrils. The most common form of fungal infection, known as malassezia, causes your dog’s skin to itch and burn. Check with your veterinarian and understand the types of fungal & bacterial infection your dog is susceptible to.

Hot spots, referred to as acute moist dermatitis in the veterinary literature, begin when the dog starts to scratch excessively or chew on him, and causes damage to the skin’s surface. This allows excess bacteria to move in and take over the skin’s natural defenses. Once set in, a hot spot can enlarge very rapidly and spread to other parts of the body. Early detection & treatment is important. Keep watchful eye and get things checked out immediately if you have any concerns. These things are treatable if you tend to it early.

First Aid for such infections

Following are five easy steps to make your pooch feel better quickly when suffering from infections. Please consult your local veterinarian before you follow this.

Step 1: Shampoo your furry friend with anti-fungal dog shampoo, found in pet stores or at your local supermarket. You can get a stronger shampoo from your veterinarian.

Step 2: Soak your dog’s blistered paws in a solution of warm water, vinegar, anti-fungal shampoo and a little bit of iodine to kill the fungus that is attacking his skin. Dry the paw pads completely and then apply an anti fungal ointment.

Step 3: Treat localized fungal infections, such as ringworm, with anti-fungal creams and ointments. Ringworm is contagious to humans, so wash carefully after you treat your dog.

Step 4: On walks try to keep the infected paw covered in a bandage or dog booties.

Step 5: Keep referring to your vet.

Rain rain go away…

For young pets who are not accustomed to the being wet can be very stressful and scary. Thunder and lightning is scary for the dogs- young or old. Few caring steps can help your pet to ease at home-

* It is important to give proper company to your dog during their most scary times.

* Ensuring, warm, dry bed in a room in which he/ she are most comfortable in is a good idea. It will assure safety to them.

* If the dog is whining, it is best to comfort it with soothing tone of voice and words than to command them to sit in a spot. They may follow you around the house, but only because they find comfort in your company.

* If you have a pet with a high degree of nervousness, check with your vet for mild nerve suppressants

Getting him adapted to the season

Although a pet may have a routine activity for the day, rains may affect them. Some homework for the owners to do before and during the beginning of the rainy season are-

Get your dog used to water: Domestication has spoiled our dogs. Dogs in the wild must get wet if they want to eat. Domesticated dogs rarely get wet nowadays. So getting your dog used to getting wet is vital. Get a garden hose and let your dog play with the water. Your dog will have lots of fun and going out for doggie-business during those days of continuous rains will get easier.

Feed on wet grass: Rain may not be the only problem. Some dogs hate walking on wet grass. Well, tough luck, if your dog wants to eat it, he must go in the wet grass. If it is has not recently rained, lightly make the grass humid with a garden hose. The dog will start to associate wet grass with food, or at least will learn that wet grass is nothing to worry about.

Let them walk: If your dog is not used to potty in the rain, make him walk. Walking stimulates poopy time. Eventually the urge will come. It is necessary to maintain loads of patience, especially if your dog is facing the rains for the first time. Some dogs may take as much as thirty minutes to get an urge to poop in the wet. It may be tough at first but they will get used to it and shorten the time to go potty.

Wait until your dog really needs to go: This has worked some times. I hear it is raining outside so I will delay his potty time. Let’s say instead of 9 PM they go at 10:30 PM. Once out they are upset because of the rain but the urge has grown so much that they could care less.

Pet Accessories: Many accessories are now available in India for our pets. Doggie raincoats and boots are available in the markets today and can help you to maintain your dog better. However, it is not advisable to use these accessories so that your dog can be better adjusted to the wet conditions. Moreover, should one of these items be missing, your dog will go back to categorically refusing to go potty.

On the other hand, if your dog loves water and rains, as do many; ensure that he/ she has a lot of fun in the water. You can protect them by using the doggie wet boots. Let your dog have fun in the rain. It will ease them and cool them off from the harsh summer that we just had.