Give your dog the best possible life: Anjali Kalachand

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Monday, February 22, 2021
give your dog the best possible life: anjali kalachand
Anjali with her dog, Leo

In a candid conversation with Healthpost, Anjali Kalachand, co-founder of A Petter Life, an ecommerce platform for pets, talks about the importance of right nutrition, exercise and parenting in a pet’s life. 


What inspired you to set up A Petter Life? 

The main inspiration behind my foray into the pet industry is my own dog, Leo. I adopted Leo, an Indie puppy abandoned in Mumbai, in 2016. When he refused to eat kibble, I desperately began to search for other alternatives for him. At that time I stumbled upon a study that said that from the year 1970 to the year 2000 there has been a dramatic drop in pet longevity. Studies showed that the average Golden Retriever who would have an expected lifespan of 14 years in the 1970s, now only has a lifespan of 10 years. I began doing my own fact-finding and concluded that while we may not be able change or alter our dog’s genetics, we can control their environment, lifestyle and nutrition to ensure that they lead a better and longer life. In January 2020 I started my own business, Nutriwoof, in a bid to educate pet parents about a holistic lifestyle and provide alternative solutions for common problems faced by canines. 

On the other hand, when my business partner Sachin Shetty and his wife, Mahek, adopted an Indie puppy during the lockdown, as first time pet owners, they realised that there was no comprehensive platform which gave them access to all the resources and information that they needed to raise their puppy. They wanted pet-parents to have access to important information and products all under one roof. Raising their puppy, Flash, helped them identify the gap in the market, and that is how the idea of “A Petter Life” was born.

How do you know animals so well? 

I have had dogs since I was a teenager. They were pedigree dogs, cocker spaniels to be more precise. Although one of them lived to be 14, the rest died a little too prematurely or landed up having health issues much earlier than I would have expected them to. Since we picked the parents up from the same breeder, this made me feel like there was something wrong with the way these dogs were bred. Having grown up in Mauritius, where we have a big stray dog problem, I vowed never to "buy" a dog again - even as a teenager I had come to the conclusion that strays are bred through natural selection and hence the puppies would be more "sturdy" and have better genes. I had the opportunity to finally adopt my Indie puppy in March 2016. I can't say for sure whether Indies are genetically less predisposed to ailments than their pedigreed counterparts, but I can say for sure is nutrition, exercise and exposure to toxins/chemicals are all things we can control to try our best to make sure our pets are thriving, and as a result with us for longer and in good health.

How should a pet parent identify the need of his/her pet? What care should one take? 

Every pet like every human is an individual. They depend on us for food, shelter and exercise. When getting a dog, based on the dog's breed the pet parent can already do some homework to understand a particular breed’s characteristics, how they were bred, why they were bred so as to understand their pet's needs and behaviour better. However even if we generalise certain character traits and behaviour patterns, the fact remains that each dog is an individual. They have their own personalities and likes and dislikes that we understand over time. The relationship one can build with an animal is, in my opinion, a magical one! This relationship requires no words to understand or to be understood. When it comes to their nutritional requirements as well, each dog is an individual. Understand what its health issues, your pet's likes or dislikes, their activity need. 

Is it true that parenting a pet is equivalent to parenting a kid. Parenting also plays an important role in determining their behaviour. Your thoughts. 

Yes, parenting a pet is like parenting a child that never grows up. Your pet remains your child forever, and is dependent on you for everything. Pet-parenting is extremely important in determining your dog's behaviour, as well. The correct training through positive reinforcement, exposure to different sights and sounds, ensures that you have a well adjusted pup, making your time together much more pleasant and fun.

How should one understand the nutritional requirement of their pet? 

There are certain things to keep in mind when we discuss the nutritional requirements of dogs:

a. Dogs are omnivores, which means that they can digest both meat-based foods and plant-based. However, animal proteins represent a more bioavailable source of protein and provide greater nutrition to a dog as opposed to vegetarian alternatives like pulses. Before getting a dog, this is something that pet-parents should consider, as dogs need certain amino acids to thrive, which they can derive only from meat based proteins.

b. A dog's nutritional requirement will depend on his life stage. Is the dog in question a growing puppy, a mature adult, a senior dog or a geriatric dog? Did you know that not all breeds age uniformly - and that the larger the breed the faster they age? 

c. One must also always consider the existing health conditions of a dog. Based on these conditions, functional ingredients are included in the diet plan, to try and ensure faster recovery/ prevention of symptoms that could aggravate a particular condition.

What are the most common mistakes people make when parenting a pet? 

•    Not practising positive reinforcement whilst training. 
•    Not providing enough exercise. 
•    Overfeeding. 
•    Feeding a diet that is not species appropriate.

Things a pet parent should know before/ when they decide to bring a pet home? 

Your pet is a child forever and will depend on you for all aspects of their care. Look up the breed you are looking to get and understand a little more about their character traits and breed predispositions. Invest in training and educating yourself on how to give your dog the best possible life. And lastly, enjoy this incredible relationship - for if one has not loved a dog, one has not lived at all!
 

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