Ask the expert… | Jan-Feb 2014

Dr K G Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a lecturer in clinical medicine at Vet College in Bangalore for 15 years, and has won the ‘best teacher’ award in the year 2000. He is a member of European Society for Vet Dermatology and is currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Chang, our Pekinese, has a rash on the paw – he has been licking and biting it – pus had collected with bleeding. We took him to his vet who removed the pus and cleaned it, the infection has gone deep in his paw. Please do explain.
– Anisha & Ayesha, New Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: Pododermatitis refers to skin disease involving the feet (paws). Bacterial infections are frequently involved, although a variety of conditions may be underlying causes. For example, allergies and parsites can predispose pets to a variety of skin diseases, including pododermatitis. Embedded hairs or other foreign bodies (plant awns, splinters, thorns) can cause pododermatitis with nodules or draining tracts in the feet. Since several different disorders can cause the same symptoms in pododermatitis, your veterinarian may recommend tests (skin scrape, culture, biopsy) to find out the underlying cause. Treatment is aimed at correcting or avoiding any underlying conditions and at treating any infection present. Antibiotics given for several weeks are necessary to control bacterial infection. Disinfecting the feet can help healing, and soaking the feet daily in an antiseptic solution is also recommended. Some allergy or immune mediated cases may require corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs.
Is it safe for pets to travel? At times I don’t understand what my pet wants and what he wants us to do and say. How do I cope with this?
– Varun Vickraman, Bengaluru
Dr KG Umesh: I assume your query is related to travelling by road. Travelling for any good reason are best when you have your family with you and when your pet is as much a part of your family. Proper planning can make the travel experience better and less stressful for you and your pet. If your pet is not accustomed to car travel, take him for a few short rides before your trip. Help your new dog learn to rest calmly in a crate. This is an essential skill for dogs during travel, boarding and other situations. Take advice from your vet if your pet suffers any travel sickness. Stick to your regular feeding routine and give the main meal at the end of the day or when you reach your destination. Feeding dry food will be more convenient. Give small portions of food and water and plan to stop every two hours for exercise. Pets should not be allowed to ride with his head outside car window. Best never to leave your pet unattended in the car. When travelling by car, pack a simple pet first-aid kit that includes assorted bandages, antiseptic cream and an anti-diarrhoeal medication that is safe for pets.
Lulu has got surgery in one eye for cataract but she’s still cannot see from that eye. Need information on cataract.     
– Esther Adiappa, Guwahati
Dr KG Umesh: Cataracts are common in dogs and some dog breeds are prone to hereditary cataracts. The most common cause of cataracts is heredity, where the likelihood of developing cataracts at some point in life is transmitted genetically. Other causes include diseases such as diabetes or can be a result of inflammation of the inside of the eye, called uveitis. With cataracts, black pupil normally looks cloudy or white in bright light. A similar but less serious condition that resembles cataracts is called ‘nuclear sclerosis’. This is a normal, older-age-related haziness of the lens. Nuclear sclerosis rarely compromises vision, is very common as dogs age, and progresses (worsens) much more slowly than true cataracts. The process that leads to cataract formation is irreversible. Therefore, no medication exists that can clear cataracts and the treatment of choice is removal of the cataract from within the eye with surgery. Treatment and outlook for other types of cataracts depend upon the cause. Surgery can involve removal of the cataract intact or the use of phacoemulsification, a process whereby ultrasonic waves are delivered within the eye to dissolve the cataract-containing lens, and the dissolved fragments are removed during surgery. Intraocular lenses, which are synthetic lenses that replace the lens removed with the cataract, can be implanted at the time of cataract removal for better near-field vision. Phaco surgery facilities are available in cities like Bengaluru, Chennai or Mumbai. Speak to your vet.
We are moving overseas. Our dog is an eight years old German Pointer and has been with us since she was a puppy. To get to where we are going she will have to be in her cage for at least 35 hours. Also, the climate will be very different and it will be very expensive to fly her. My questions are: Will our dog feel deserted if we leave her in a good home? How important is it for a dog to stay with their original pet parents? Appreciate your advice.
– Yair Kohn
Dr KG Umesh: Since your dog has become a true family member, it would be great moving with the family! Dogs are highly adaptable. It’s quite possible to meet a dog’s needs and live happily together in a home very different from the home you shared before. Use the crate to help the dog through any adjustment period, such as the separation anxiety that can occur temporarily in a new place. Moving with your dog can greatly enrich your life and make transitions less stressful for you. Give special treats in the crate, provide comfy bedding if the dog is old enough to refrain from chewing it, and keep the crate in a place the dog likes to be. Discuss with your vet on giving him a tranquiliser before boarding the flight, which has pros and cons. It’s safest for the dog to travel with you rather than being separately shipped. Contact your veterinarian and the authorities involved so that you can get the required health checks and certificates, make the necessary reservations, and arrange for every step of the dog’s safe journey. For your pet’s comfort, air travel on an almost empty stomach is usually recommended. The carrying container (transport crate) should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for the animal to move around, safe and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily refillable containers for a long journey. After you move in to new house, your pet will need to sniff around the new house and yard in much the same way the humans will explore it with their eyes and hands.
My dog has been coughing. He also takes out white foamy like substance.  Please advice if these are symptoms of kennel cough.
– Kusum Biswas, Kolkata
Dr KG Umesh: Dogs can develop cough for several reasons and cough is merely a sign of an underlying problem anywhere in wind pipe, food pipe, lungs or left heart failure. The kennel cough is generally caused by various combinations of bacteria and viruses and in pets under stress living in unhygienic conditions.  Kennel cough is typically seasonal and respond very well to medications. The dry cough is also associated with another common condition is collapsing trachea which is frequent in toy and small breeds. This condition has non-productive (dry) cough. The cough is often described as a ‘goose honk’ because of it characteristic sound and the cough typically can be triggered by excitement, anxiety, exercise, eating and/or drinking, becoming overheated, and mild pulling on the collar. Most cases of cough respond favourably to rest and medications. These medications include sedatives; drugs that widen the air passages; expectorants, which break up the mucus in the lungs; and anti-tussives to relieve the coughing. Antibiotics may help if a bacterial infection is complicating problem. Kennel cough can be prevented by annual vaccination. Cough due to other causes like heart failure or tracheal collapse may require lab tests, imaging and bronchoscopy to confirm and initiate suitable medical management. Surgical intervention may be indicated with tracheal collapse and for tumours involving the respiratory system.