Ask the expert – Mar Apr 07

Q : I feed Cerelac to my 8-week-old Pug puppy 4 times a day. We do not put milk in it as his stomach becomes loose. Please let me know about his feeding and nutrition needs till he is a year old. – Raashi Dewan, Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a puppy in order to prepare him for an active, long, and healthy life. Our research has indicated that most home made diets/baby foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate and growth, development and body/skin condition may not be optimum. Puppies grow very fast, almost 12 times faster than a human baby. Puppies nutritional requirements are different from adults and is almost twice that of adults. Therefore, manufactured pet foods like Pedigree is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of dogs in different lifestages. Continue feeding puppy food until age of 6-8 months and switch over to adult pet food after that. Any dietary change should be made slowly to avoid any upsets to your pet’s digestion. Gradually introduce the manufactured pet food over a 5-10 day period by mixing very small amounts of the food with old diet. Make sure that fresh water is available at all times.

Q : My 5-year-old Spaniel Holly has ticks on her body. Last year, because of ticks she had suffered from a blood parasite diseases and her platelet count had come very low. How can I prevent her from the dreadful ticks. – Arnav Kapoor

Dr. K.G. Umesh : A generalised tick life cycle consists of egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The tick feeds once in each stage before maturing to the next stage. Ticks lay their eggs (as many as 18,000 in some species) in sheltered areas on or near the ground. Seed ticks hatch from the eggs and climb onto grass to wait for a suitable host. Successful control of ticks depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. To control ticks or fleas on a dog, all animals in the household must be part of the flea/ticks control programme. There are two basic categories of flea/ticks control products: Adulticides—these products kill adult fleas and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)/Insect Development Inhibitors (IDIs)—these products prevent fleas from hatching or maturing. Thorough cleaning of the house and yard should precede any application of insecticides. The veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for the client. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Q : Foxy – my GSD – is a senior (10 years) – starts gasping for breath when I take him for a walk. Please advise. – Monica, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Considering his age and signs, all I can suggest is to take him to your vet to rule out common diseases like heart failure, COPD or tracheal collapse. Inflamed airways and kennel cough may also cause such symptoms. If he finds it difficult to breathe after walk, exercise/running etc, and the vet would consider heart problems like left side heart failure. Some dogs commonly have respiratory disease (i.e., collapsing trachea, COPD) coexistent with heart disease also. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is get radiography, ECG and if possible echocardiography. Your vet might prescribe medications symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q : My dog has started shaking his right ear. Is this a sign of ear infection? How often and how do I clean the earwax build up? – Desai, Bangalore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Otitis externa or inflammation of outer ear canal is common in dogs. Many factors can cause or contribute to the development of this ear problem in dogs. Parasites, foreign bodies, endocrine problems, allergies, etc can be a cause. Like wise ear structure (for e.g., floppy ears), errors in cleaning ears/medications predispose dog to develop this ear problem. Dogs with recurrent ear infections should be evaluated for flea allergy, atopy (pollens allergy), food allergy and yeast infections etc. Recognition of underlying causes and treatment of all the factors contributing to the ear infection are the key to successful clinical management. Do not use cotton tipped applicators to clean ears! Depending on severity and duration of ear infection, your vet may perform variety of tests from examination of discharge to radiography. Therefore, I suggest taking him to your vet as early as possible to find underlying cause and appropriate cleaning and medication protocol.

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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia.