Pets get affected by fear, separation from loved ones, injuries, bullying and dominance by others just like humans. SUPRIYA RAMESH tells you how grooming helps
Mental health has been a common topic of conversation with our family, friends and therapists. But how many of you have ever wondered about your pet’s mental health? Yes, your pet too suffers from mental stress and needs pampering and grooming sessions like most of us to do.
Talking about the latest incident, Dr Sandeep Yadav, Director, SKRD Veterinary Hospital, Gurugram tells us that Fudge, a Labrador and a dear pet of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput has suffered serious mental trauma after Rajput’s demise.
Well, like humans there could be several reasons for a pet to be sad or mentally ill. These four-legged creatures long for freedom, a lot of patting, scratching and someone to play with. Similar to human babies, separation from their caretaker would make a pet sad. Other reasons could be constant physical pain, an underlying disease like epilepsy or various neurological disorders causing mental illness. So, all the dog dads and cat moms out there, keep a check on your paw-feet friend.
Dr Yadav says, “Fear and phobias, emotional breakdown due to separation from loved ones, traumatic and pathological injuries affecting the central nervous system, bullying and dominance by others are some of the common factors between humans’ and animals’ mental illness.”
Grooming has been one of the easiest and great ways to please oneself during tough times and boost one’s confidence. The question to ponder here is how important grooming can be for pets? Do better physical health and personal hygiene play a role in it? In fact, they play a very crucial role in a pet’s life! “When someone touches the animal with care and compassion while grooming that single act gives a lot of confidence and reassurance to a pet. Physical cleansing makes his body feel lighter and happier,” Dr Yadav shares.
Speaking to Dhruv Harish Punjwani, pet parent of a 7-year-old German Shepherd tells us that Zeus is extremely attached to his family and due to his bad back (an issue that he's had since his childhood) walks aren't advisable as this would lead to him aggravating what is already a heightened chance of hip dysplasia. This adds to the reduction of possible entertainment choices.
Just like how COVID-19 has taken a toll on all of us in different ways, it has also impacted pets. Restricting ourselves inside the four walls during the lockdowns, our pets got barred from going or playing outside and it is one of the major reasons for that frowning snout. “I feel that due to this pandemic, the physical and mental health of dogs has definitely taken a downturn as a general trend,” Punjwani says. But luckily enough Zeus has always been a patsy for in house entertainment so getting him the right kind of toys keeps him that extra bit happy.
There are a few basics of pet grooming that can be done at home. “Regular combing with slicker combs to remove dead hair, cleaning pets’ ears with salicylic acid-based ear cleanser solution, nail clipping and regular normal bath can help big time.” Dr Yadav tells us.
Nowadays pet grooming has diversified and pet parents are more aware. “Anal gland expression, different baths like anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-tick, anti-mite bath, and various types hair cuttings are available,” explains Dr Yadav. To go the extra mile, specialised grooming activities and parlours can be explored. There are several pet-friendly cafes, which is a thumbs-up for your pets as they get to make new friends while you grab something to munch on.
Dr Yadav says that gentle physical touch with care, love and compassion is itself a therapy and pets sense it most efficiently. Besides mental health, physical health is equally important. “Grooming helps in elimination of physical pathogens like bacteria, virus, parasites, fomites, dead hair and dandruff and reduces the infection load from the pet’s body thus helping in improving overall health and immunity making them physically strong.”
Bathing or nail clipping could be a task for pet parents sometimes because not all dogs are calm and easygoing. There are different ways you could calm them down like giving them toys to play with or treats to chew. If lullabies aren’t helping your child, try singing it for your pet, it might work out! “I used to bathe him with mild-warm water, starting from his tail till neck to avoid unnecessary hype. To calm him down we used to clean his ears with a muslin cloth and a veterinary solution to avoid fungal infections. Neck scratching and foot massaging was the part where he would have slept during washing. We sang loris while bathing to relax him,” says Aastha Rawthan, pet parent of a pug, Tauro.
When it comes to pets, people mostly talk about dogs and cats. What about other pet animals and their mental health? Dr Yadav says that other pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, too require grooming. But for different pets, there are different methods.
“You can’t keep a rabbit or a rodent wet for a long duration during bathing. They require thorough quick drying as it may affect their health adversely. Birds too have various unique methods like using a sprinkler device to give a shower,” he explains.
Spending quality time with a pet improves the emotional quotient (EQ) for both pets and pet parents. Regular exercise, a healthy timely diet, petting, treats, playing, swimming, an outing to the pet parks etc are some of the aspects other than grooming that improves the mental and physical health of the pets.