Pets in India are categorised in two sections – the smaller animals including dogs, cats, rabbits et al, and the draught or draft animals like cattle and horses. With more than 19 million pets in the country including nearly two crore dogs, the pet food industry is now estimated to be 1200 crore.
Pet foods and accessories market has been growing in India with the rise in demand of pets over the last few decades. This has in turn led to rise in vets, pet care centres and pet food products. In fact, recent data from one of the leading newspapers show that India is one amongst the fastest growing pet care markets.
According to Petex2019 Meet, the changing situations of households, working conditions, rapid urbanization have not only increased the trend of keeping pets but have also turned India into the biggest per market. Dogs and cats are the most common pets followed by smaller ones like rabbits, guinea pigs, fishes and birds.
The Optimist News spoke to some of the leading vets of Kolkata to get their insights on pet behaviour during the pandemic induced lockdown-
When it comes to pets, one school of thought goes like this – lockdown has not affected pets’ life much; those used to going out for morning walks played on the terrace while the ones who do not, continued to happily stay at home. Psychological and physical problems were there even before lockdown and will persist. But this situation has made every pet mentally happy being around the owners for the whole day.
Dr Srijita Ghosh, a veterinarian doctor associated with “Moitri Bhabana Veterinary Clinic”, has been going out to meet clients during the lockdown period. According to her, pets love spending time with their owners as it makes them feel safe and the lockdown has in a way been a boon to them as most owners were at home.
“Pets normally stay at home as going out for walks make them prone to diseases and infection, mostly from street dogs. So there wasn’t any big change in their routines, except that they got to spend more time with the owners. This has made them happier and healthier. Maybe some of them have suffered from lack of physical activities, but it is enough for dogs to go to the terrace or in the neighbourhood for a quick walk,” she notified.
“We call dogs and cats as companion animals as they along with other small animals have little demand. The lockdown has actually made the situation better for pets. However, the dogs that go out for walks got agitated and irritated with the disruption in their routines, due to COVID19 scare. The owners of such pets did face some difficulties. But most were happy to spend time at home with their owners and they were found healthy and hearty,” says Dr Chandrakanta Chakraborty, a consultant veterinarian and surgeon engaged in small-animal care, and associated with a clinic at Uttarpara and Baguihati. He also has his own clinic “Cats N Dogs Treatment Center” at Serampore
“The other thought goes – if pets constantly stay at home, they can be depressed, and suffer from monotony which can lead to high cholesterol, obesity, arthritis and psychological issues. According to pet experts, while it is safe to keep pets at home, occasional physical activities inside the premises, at terrace or around neighborhood, will do them a lot good” says Dr Chakraborty.
Well known vet surgeon Dr Gautam Mukherjee who is associated with “Get Well Pet Care” says pets should go out as it is important for their health. “I believe dogs have suffered to some extent because they, especially German Shepherds and Labradors, require exercise and physical activity which can be done properly only in the open. Besides, less exercise causes less hunger and boredom which might lead to diseases like arthritis. That said, pet safety is an issue in our country and cleanliness continues to be a big impediment for free movement of pets as it exposes them to higher risks of contracting infections. Nevertheless, owners must find alternative ways to help their pets stay fit,” Dr. Mukherjee advocated.
He advises owners to take the pets out by car to large, open and safe places like Victoria Memorial or Maidan where the pets can run and play without the risk of contracting infections.
The flip side of the story is, once the world regains normalcy, the pets will have to adjust to the former routine of not being with the owners long enough!
But then so is life! For pets too it seems!