No rain on my paw-rade
Monsoons with your dog
For many people, monsoons are a period of romance. There’s chai on the stove and pakodas sizzling away in hot oil, their smell mixing in with the petrichor as the sound of rain lends a beautiful background score to the scene. However, the reality of monsoons for pet parents is a bit of a let-down. Ticks abound everywhere you go, stomach bugs lead to smelly and loose poop, other rain-related creepy crawlies bite your dog, and there is endless mud (oh, the mud!) on everything from the carpets to the furniture.
So how do we find a happy medium that lets us retain the romance of the rains while avoiding all the issues they bring for our beloved dogs? Here are a few tips for a smooth-sailing monsoon with your dog:
Go tactical with the ticks
A single tick can give your dog tick fever if left latched on for more than 36 hours — a single tick! Going tactical on ticks is thus not an understatement; this is war!
You can prevent ticks internally, externally, and environmentally. The minuscule silver lining is that tick fever is not contagious among dogs. However, if the tick that gave one dog tick fever falls off and latches onto another dog, it can infect both of them.
Sometimes ticks latch on even after the best of efforts. It is helpful to know where ticks usually latch on the body. Although they can attach themselves anywhere, you’re likely to find them along the spine, around the bottom of the tail — groin area, in the skin folds like underarms, ears, eyelids and lips, and between toes (don’t forget the fold under the paw!), or under your dog’s collar or harness. Make a routine of checking all these areas at least once a day. It’s easy if your dog is used to you touching them. If not, make it into a play/massage session (whatever allows your dog to be more comfortable — ease them into the process), so you can check your dog regularly.
I have a few tick-related blogs that I’m listing below for your reference:
These blogs cover the information above in more detail and have notes on the use of Garlic in dogs + a bit on over-the-counter tick and flea medication, especially pills that claim to rid your dog of ticks and fleas for 1–6 months. The tick fever blog covers tick-fever symptoms, diagnosis and treatments, including home remedies which you can use to supplement veterinary therapy.
Stomach bugs and other bugs
Almost everyone gets an upset tummy once the rains begin, and our dogs aren’t an exception. Food can spoil quickly, or your dogs can eat something questionable on the side of the road, leading to an infection. Whatever the cause, your dog now has smelly poop that’s difficult to pick (kind of happy the rains will wash it away, huh?).
To avoid this, ensure your dog’s eating a good balance of prebiotics and probiotics, that you do not make any sudden changes to their diet, or if you suspect their food (especially meat) has gone rancid, don’t feed them that. A firm ‘No’ or ‘Leave it’ cue is helpful, so your dogs don’t treat themselves to ‘street food.’ Bones in the diet help keep the poop firm, but too much can cause constipation. If your dog already has diarrhoea, you’ll need a different approach.
If your dog has an upset stomach and loose motions, you can feed them overcooked boiled rice and overcooked chicken (this is one of the few instances where I will suggest you give your dog rice — this is temporary, and rice, in this case, is used as a remedy, not a filler). You can add cooked pumpkin puree to this as well. Since I feed Bailey pumpkin quite often, I usually stick to just overcooked white rice and chicken when her stomach acts up. Move back to your dog’s regular meals once their tummy is better, and keep an eye out for any further disturbances when you do so. If your dog’s regular food upsets their stomach again, it’s time to investigate for possible food intolerance/ allergy. If the home remedy doesn’t work and the infection is too severe, consult your vet. Ensure your dog stays hydrated.
Here’s a blog on dog poop. It has information on how to judge the quality of your dog’s stools, when to worry, and how to ensure healthy poop.
Other bugs and critters may also be cause for concern during the monsoons. Flying insects to creepy crawlies will greet you on walks and inside your home. You may even come across a colony of ants moving homes because their previous one got flooded. While most of these are harmless if left alone, some may bite your dog and cause rashes or may cause issues if ingested. Keep some soothing sprays or powders that relieve itching around bites, and if the swelling and itching do not subside even marginally in a day, visit the vet. Keep an eye out for snakes and mice/rats. Mice and rats carry diseases, and snakes can bite when provoked. Although many snakes are non-venomous, it is always a good idea to have the bite looked at by a vet (don’t waste time; go to the nearest one available).
Grooming and Hygiene
If it’s raining outside, you can be sure there will be mud. Unfortunately, it’s often not just mud; there’s sludge from waste left out in the open mixed into it too, and it all comes into the house with your dog. A straightforward solution is to use wipes to clean your dog’s feet, legs and belly after each walk. If your dog has butt fluff that gets dirty when they squat to pee or poop, have the groomers cut it a bit short while it’s rainy outside.
Ensure your dog’s paws are dry after each wipe session, and use a doggy raincoat to keep your dog dry on walks. When trapped between toes and inside thick hair, humidity can lead to hotspots, yeast infections and more.
If your dog enjoys a good roll in puddles or gets smelly after being outside in the rain, you may need to bathe them more often than usual. If it’s just the smell, you can look into using dry shampoo, powders and wipes. If your dog is extra smelly, remember to check if their skin is okay; the smell may be because of a skin issue. Ensure your dog is thoroughly dry after each bath session.
When brushing your dog, don’t forget to look for ticks and fleas, and always investigate any suspicious bumps your find on the dog. It may just be an ant bite, but it can snowball into an open wound if your dog bites on it (dogs can try to relieve an itch with their teeth). Some dogs may come home with rashes on their belly after walking in tall grass, sitting on wet surfaces, etc. If you notice this happening often, go through your dog’s walk routes and see if you can find a common link that can direct you to the cause of the rashes. If these rashes are recurring, your dog may need anti-allergy treatment. I’ve found that using a 1:1 ACV(with mother): Water mixture on the paws, belly and back of the hind legs is good in preventing bites and ticks on walks. Take care not to spray this on open wounds.
Above are some tips to deal with some common issues dog parents experience during rainy spells. These are, of course, broad and can be used or not based on your dog’s requirements. If you have any tips for monsoon care for your dog, please share them in the comments.