Dogs are versatile helpers on four paws
Dogs have been loyal companions to men for millenniums. Thanks to their extraordinary capabilities, dogs are highly appreciated and tremendously popular as helpers and as buddies. Hardly any other domestic animal or pet lives and works so closely together with human beings. Nevertheless, it is in particular because of the special character of dogs that some people abuse them for their own interests.
Loved and held in disdain
Dogs are lifesavers – they watch and protect us and our property and they serve as faithful companions. On the other side it is our responsibility to take care of them. In many places, dogs are given much tender loving care; they are sometimes treated as if they were humans; they are held for reasons of prestige and are often misunderstood. Because of their ability to adapt and integrate into groups easily, they are often exploited – held inappropriately, subjected to abuse and punished with disdain.
It is humans who primarily influence how a dog develops, but in order to understand dogs, we need to study their biology and behavior.
Animal protection issues
- Acquiring a dog without having considered the changes to your everyday life often leads to the holder being overtaxed and the dog being underchallenged.
- Breeding abuse can translate into a dog suffering physical and mental pain.
- Overfeeding and a lack of exercise as well as being mentally underchallenged lead to health difficulties and behavioral disturbances.
- Insufficient social contact with other dogs and human beings makes dogs uncertain and weak in will as well as being potentially dangerous.
- Dogs must be allowed social contact with people and with other dogs. Moreover, dogs must be able to move freely outdoors.
- Despite progress made, there is still need for action. It should not be allowed to tie dogs to a running chain (minimum radius of movement for the dog is 20 m²).
- On national level there is a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for Kenya which was consolidated in 2012.
Read more here on Animal laws at national level - Kenya
Learning – the Path to Success
Lovable and loyal companions are what dogs bekommt, when we apply our knowledge and are willing to understand them. Nevertheless, assuming care for a dog must be thought through carefully. It means taking on the responsibility for the entire life span of the dog – and dogs reach 10 to 15 years of age. Dogs need to be encouraged but not overtaxed. Clear and consequent rules help to simplify the relationship between humans and dogs and to prevent undesirable behavior. This also applies to those animals with a difficult past.
What you need to know before you acquire a dog
- Household members need to agree.
- The landlord needs to permit dogs in his or her building.
- Sufficient space must be available in the house or apartment.
- Sufficient time must be made for walks.
- Care for the dog needs to be ensured during workday absences.
- The holder needs to be able to afford a dog and know which costs to expect (veterinary, taxes, etc.)
- Rules need to be put in place and adhered to.
- The owner needs to be willing to attend courses for dogs.
- Care must be ensured for the dog when its owner is away on vacation as well as in emergency situations.
- The owner needs to be knowledgeable about dog races and know which dog best fits his or her lifestyle.
In order for a puppy to grow to become a pleasant, safe and sociable dog, „good upbringing“ is of utmost importance. Owners must endeavor to bring up puppies as best possible and ensure that
- the puppies be able to socialize with other dogs (communication between dogs);
- and other animals (cats, guinea pigs, horses, etc.);
- as well as people (hikers, joggers, children, disabled persons, etc.).
- Dogs are accustomed to non-social external stimuli such as car traffic, airplanes, loud noises, etc.
It is important that puppies not be separated from their mother or siblings before they are twelve weeks old, because this form of species-specific training is very important for them; whereas their owners bear the responsibility of training them how to react to other external stimuli.
Dogs with other first-time owners
Animals are given away for various different reasons. This does not mean that dogs that are given up are difficult animals. However, you should not let yourself be driven by pity. It is best to take your time to get to know a dog over a longer period of time, to go walking with it, to take it home with you on a trial basis, and to only decide after careful consideration.
Children and dogs
Babies, infants and older children always need to be supervised when in the proximity of a dog.
Many behavior patterns of dogs are undesirable to humans, even though they are part of a dog’s natural behavior, hunting, for instance. In order to change such behavior, expert instruction is necessary as well as consequent training by the dog owner. Behavior patterns can be changed, but this should be left to specialists.
Preventing is preferable to curing!
Various vaccinations provide good health protection for dogs. Dogs should be vaccinated against parvovirosis, distemper, hepatitis (contagious liver disease), leptospirosis and kennel cough (canines parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica). In addition to this, preventing tick bites is also important, because ticks transmit diseases.
When to vaccinate?
Dog vaccinations are a very complex topic. Depending on a dog’s state of health, a veterinary will adapt corresponding vaccination plans.
Parvovirosis, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and kennel cough
Today, well-tolerated combination vaccinations are available to treat these five diseases, so that only one sole injection is necessary. Classically, you vaccinate puppies when they are 8 weeks old. When they are 12 weeks old, the vaccination needs to be repeated in order to ensure good basic immunization. Because protection against parvovirosis and distemper does not always prove to be sufficient with these vaccinations and protection provided by breast milk (antibodies) is of varying duration, it is recommended that parvovirosis and distemper vaccinations be repeated when animals at risk reach 16 weeks of age. All these vaccinations should be repeated at regular intervals, i.e. leptospirosis and kennel cough vaccinations annually; parvovirosis, distemper, and hepatitis vaccinations every 2 to 3 years.
Rabies is a deadly disease that can be transferred to humans. Right now, rabies is more widespread in Kenya than it has ever been. The country bears the burden of up to 2,000 human rabies deaths every year. Most of these victims are children. Inhumanely culling dogs has been proven time and time again to have little effect on rabies. The only proven solution is to consistently vaccinate 70% of dogs against the disease. Therefore your dog must be vaccinated against rabies. If a dog is vaccinated after its 16th week of life, then a one-time vaccination is sufficient. Otherwise, the dog will have to be vaccinated twice.
Read more here A dogs life in Kenya
Borreliosis, Babesiosis, Piroplasmosis:
Vaccinations against these diseases are also available. Because ticks transmit these three diseases, primarily, it is important to protect dogs against them with collars or spot-on solutions. Your dog’s veterinary can inform you about local threats and whether a vaccination is necessary or not.
What can I check and treat myself?
With some practice, the owner can carry out certain care measures him- or herself:
- Checking the dog’s weight on a regular basis will help to prevent overweight in due time.
- It is often necessary to clean the dog’s ears regularly (do not use cotton bud sticks!).
- It is a must to worm your pet with tablets on a regular basis. Just like a prophylactic treatment against fleas and ticks (collars and spot-on), worming can easily be carried out at home.
- Smaller wounds can be treated with antiseptic solution (e.g. Betadine).
- Pet owners can also apply and remove bandages themselves (possibly, in agreement with the veterinary).
- A dog’s temperature can be measured rectally (please apply Vaseline prior to measuring the animal’s temperature). Normal temperature range: 37,5 to 39,0°C.
When to go to the veterinary?
Primarily, to have vaccinations carried out on a regular basis (re. information provided above).
You should take your dog to the veterinary immediately, if it suffers a car or another accident, breaks bones or was bitten by another animal.
You should also take your dog to the veterinary as quickly as possible, if it is apathetic, refuses food or demonstrates symptoms of an organic disease. The quicker a diagnosis can be made and treatment initiated, the faster your pet will be able to recover.
Most frequent diseases
We have listed only the most important of the many diseases dogs can suffer from in the following:
- Distemper: Contagious viral disease expressed by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, eye infections, cold; sometimes even a nerve distemper with cramping. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
- Contagious hepatitis: Contagious viral disease expressed by fever, pharyngeal inflammation, stomach pains, diarrhea, changes to the eyes, disorders of the central nerve system. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
- Stuttgart Dog Disease (Leptospirosis): Contagious bacterial infection, expressed by fever, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, changes to the eyes, possibly also liver or kidney failure. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
- Kennel Cough (Canines Parainfluenza Virus): Contagious viral disease, expressed by nasal excretion, pronounced coughing, possibly also fever and general disorders all the way to lung diseases. Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
- Parvovirosis: Contagious viral infection, expressed by fever or undertemparture (icy paws), exhaustion, vomiting and primarily diarrhea (watery to bloody). Take your dog to the veterinary at all costs.
- Rabies: Virus, primarily transmitted by wild animals, expressed in a change of nature, excessive salvia, aggressiveness, biting. If you suspect that a rabid animal bit your pet, take it to the veterinary immediately.
- Diarrhea: Various different symptoms, e.g. infections, intestine parasites, liver and kidney diseases. In the case of acute diarrhea, do not feed your pet for 24 hours but ensure sufficient water intake. Feed it at most half of the quantity of food it usually receives in several small portions. If no improvement comes about within one to two days time, take your dog to the veterinary. Boiled rice and chicken are usually well tolerated.
- Worm infestation (primarily roundworms and tapeworms): Expressed in loss of weight, diarrhea, bloated stomach and dull fur. Regular worming is important.
- Ticks: Ticks can transmit diseases, e.g. Borreliosis. Ticks filled with blood are swollen, brownish-white and pea-sized. Remove them immediately with special tweezers and disinfect.
- Fleas: Expressed by irritations such as itching, inflammations, infections, possibly also flea allergies. Fleas transmit tapeworms. Collars, powder, tablets, and spot-on solutions are prophylactic means. In the case of a massive attack, cleanse and disinfect the pet’s bedding and the surrounding area.
- Mites: There are different mite species, e.g. scabies or ear mites, that can lead to irritations and itching, inflammations and infections. The pet may begin to tilt its head. Consult a veterinary.
- Injuries: Playing and fighting injuries, car accidents. Bleeding and encrusted wounds, broken bones, internal injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury (pet’s general condition), consult a veterinary.
- Animal housing issues for dogs www.zuerchertierschutz.ch/en/animal-housing-issues/dogs.html
- Animal laws at National Level, Africa/Kenya under publications and online www.globalanimallaw.org/database/national/kenya/
- A dogs life in Kenya www.k9magazine.com/a-dogs-life-in-kenya/
- The Organic Farmer Magazine Nr 52, September 2009