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Taking Care of Street Dogs: A Guide for All The Dog Lovers Out There!
Around 35 – 40 million stray dogs inhabit the streets of India. Their lives are poles apart from those of their domesticated equivalents. While domesticated dogs lead privileged lives and enjoy the love of their homes, stray dogs live in survival mode, scavenging the streets for food and fighting other dogs.
They are also surrounded by social stigma since many people view them as a threat. However, this is false. They are intelligent and brilliant creatures who can be very gentle, sweet, and protective if adequately cared for. Unfortunately, taking care of street dogs has been frowned upon.
Even though stray dogs have been an integral part of the Indian subcontinent for millennia, they have mostly been ignored as pets. This sheer ignorance is caused by the lack of knowledge and fallacies regarding the breed.
However, nowadays, more and more people are adopting strays as pets in India. This phenomenon is prevalent, especially among the younger generations. While adopting a street dog is the best step to take care of them, if your current circumstances prevent you from doing so, you can take various other steps to care for them.
How can I take care of Street Dogs in India?
Food and water before everything!
The first step you can take to ensure the well-being of stray dogs is by guaranteeing that the dogs living in your vicinity are appropriately fed and hydrated. This is already a common practice in many places in India.
Due to their circumstances, street dogs grow up with stronger immunities than domesticated breeds such as German Shepherds or Poodles. Even so, it would be best if you tried to provide them with proper food instead of scraps.
Introduce strays to nutritious options such as boiled rice, lentils, cooked meat, specific vegetables, or canine formula food. Make sure the food you are providing isn't hazardous for them. You can also place water bowls around the neighbourhood, which they can access quickly, and people can refill. The summer months in India are scorching with heat. This would be vital.
Also, as per guidelines of the Animal Welfare Board of India, food for street dogs should be hygienic and not placed near children's playgrounds.
Make sure the dogs in your locality are keeping hearty and hale!
The next step in ensuring the well-being of stray dogs is to check whether they are healthy. Analyze them for injuries such as bruises and wounds. If the dog allows you to come close and touch them, provide them with proper first aid. Clean and wash the site of injury and apply vet-approved ointment.
It would also be great if you could keep an eye on them to ensure they don't lick the ointment off. In cases where they are uncomfortable touching them, you can medicate them by mixing vet-approved oral solution in their food. First aid is a vital step in taking care of street dogs.
If there are no visible cuts or wounds, check whether the dog has other conditions such as breathing trouble, vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea or lethargy. These symptoms can be signs of canine diseases such as canine coronavirus, parvovirus, influenza, rabies or leptospirosis.
In these cases, you need to immediately contact a vet who can suggest a proper treatment plan.
Also, deworming of pups is a necessary procedure to prevent deadly diseases such as rabies. In addition, the standard protocol for vaccination of street dogs includes DHLPP to fight against diseases like hepatitis, parainfluenza, distemper, leptospirosis, and parvovirus.
Vaccinations for street dogs
Street dogs are highly prone to diseases which can be infectious and have a serious impact on their behaviour and physique. With a simple dosage of vaccinations such as Anti-Rabies and 7in1 vaccine, grave illnesses like Rabies, Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus and more, can be easily avoided.
Depending on the age of the dog, these vaccines should be administered in consultation with a vet. Booster doses can also be given on a regular basis.
In India, government organisations and NGOs regularly take up vaccination drives for street dogs. You can take part and stay updated on the same to ensure safety and protection of the little ones in your locality.
Initiate neutering and spaying for the street dogs
Apart from helping in controlling the population of stray dogs, castration is also vital for their health and provides them with a better life. Here are some benefits of neutering and spaying dogs:
In the scorching heat, stray dogs can be aggressive sometimes and harm people. Sterilizing them helps in controlling their aggression.
Neutering male dogs helps in preventing diseases such as tumors and prostate cancer.
Spaying female dogs help prevent diseases such as pyometra and mammary gland cancer.
Also, don’t forget to make arrangements for a safe space where the dog can recover from the after-effects of the surgery! It is a huge step in taking care of street dogs.
Set up community welfare programs
You can set up local community welfare programs with the assistance of like-minded doggo-lovers to create a more supportive environment for the pups in your neighbourhood.
An excellent way to create a bridge between the community and stray dogs is to set up local community welfare programs for dogs.
You can create these in coordination with like-minded dog lovers who would be willing to support the cause. This will create a more supportive environment for the dogs in your vicinity.
You can arrange various types of programmes to help improve the living conditions of stray dogs in your area.
They can include food and medicine drives, sterilisation, and even adoption and awareness programs.
Programmes like these also influence people from the locality to engage and coordinate for providing better living conditions for dogs in the area. It also helps bring the community closer together.
Volunteer at any local NGO near you!
There is a massive disparity in the number of street dogs in India, and the number of NGOs present to aid them. These NGOs require volunteers to keep them running.
You can volunteer at an NGO or a stray dog rescue in your district or city and have fun caring for and bonding with cute puppies. Here are some NGOs you can consider helping out in their mission:
1. Stray Relief and Animal Welfare (STRAW), Delhi
2. Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre, Delhi
3. Red Paws Rescue, Delhi
4. Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre, Bengaluru, Karnataka
5. Debasree Roy Foundation, Kolkata, West Bengal
6. International Animal Rescue, Goa
It is not feasible for everyone to volunteer since people have busy lives. There are other ways to provide aid without directly being involved in NGOs or stray dog rescue.
For example, you can do your part by donating to an NGO or individuals who have set up care homes. This is beneficial for them in providing the utmost care to stray dogs. You can also sponsor a fur baby from an animal shelter near you and pay for all its monthly expenses such as food, health and well-being, veterinary visits and the likes.
Speak out against cruelty
Due to the high number of strays on the streets of India and the stigma surrounding them, there are many cases of animal abuse on strays. There has been a steep rise in cruelty against stray dogs in the past few years. Some people have beaten them to death, poisoned their food, and derived sadistic joy from blowing fireworks and crackers near them. Some have even tied crackers to their tails during festive seasons.
Although animal cruelty is a punishable offence under Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, they are often ignored since the maximum punishment under these laws is a fine of ₹50 and three months of imprisonment.;
If you care for stray dogs, make it your duty to take a stand for these poor creatures. You should spread awareness and speak out whenever you witness anyone trying to abuse a dog.
Get them well groomed
Grooming is a necessary step in taking care of street dogs. Brushing dogs' coats every 2-3 days is good practice to avoid the tangling of hair and parasites such as fleas and ticks.
You can help the stray dogs in your area by grooming and bathing them from time to time. Bathing should be done once every two weeks with a vet-approved dog shampoo. This helps in keeping their coats soft.
Apart from brushing and bathing, some other grooming practices dogs need are nail clipping, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning. Nail clipping of dogs is tricky, and it is recommended to get it done at a grooming parlour to avoid any injuries to the dogs.
Train and teach them a few commands!
Stray dogs have a high level of intelligence due to the fact that they have to struggle for survival. With some training, they can be taught a lot. They are capable of learning fast and picking up commands.
It's best to use positive reinforcement techniques to train the dogs. For example, you can give them treats when they follow a command properly. Rewarding makes them happy. Remember to keep the training sessions short, 10 – 15 minutes at most and never scold or hit them for not being able to follow your training.
Take care of pregnant strays
Pregnant stray dogs encounter multiple difficulties, and they require extra care. You can do a few things to look after them.
Pregnant strays naturally desire to deliver their pups in safe locations. You can help by providing them with a temporary place outside or near your house. It should be covered to protect her and her puppies from rain.
You can also help by providing them with healthy food every day. It is essential for the well-being of her and her puppies.
Also, do not forget to be connected with a vet in case of an emergency.
You can always adopt one of these babies!
If you ever do decide on adopting a stray dog, here are some valuable tips for providing these fur balls with a loving and caring home:
Adopting a dog when they are just puppies is better since full-grown dogs have difficulty adjusting to indoor life.
Take your new pup to the vet for health checks, vaccinations and deworming procedures. Also, get a proper diagnosis for underlying diseases such as tick fever.
Indian stray dogs are very smart and active breeds. However, they are a bit high maintenance in the sense that they need a lot of time outdoors and a lot of physical activity.
They can also get bored quickly, so make sure to get toys that will keep them engaged and stimulated for a longer time.
After all, it’s high time we become the Indian Street Dog’s best friend and try to improve their living situation as much as possible.
They, too, need human companionship - so don't forget to give them a little pat on the head each time you see them to show that you care.