Ask the expert…

Dr KG 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.

Q: How can I keep my dog free of ticks?    – Birendra Singh, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Ticks lay their eggs, as many as 18,000 in some species, in sheltered areas on or near the ground. Successful control of ticks depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. To control ticks on a dog, all animals in the household must be part of the flea/ticks control programme. There are two basic categories of ticks control products—Adulticides and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)/Insect Development Inhibitors (IDIs). They are available once a month spot-on sprays or pills. Some pills work for three months. It’s always best to treat the dog and the environment on the same day. The insecticides in the environment (as sprays) must be preceded by a thorough vacuuming; special attention should be paid to the areas under furniture, carpets, near pet bedding, and along mouldings. Make sure that other pets/dogs he frequently contacts or visits are free from fleas and ticks. Your vet will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use by you.

Q: My Great Dane is six months old. Please advise me how to take care of her nutrition, grooming and exercise. Are they prone to any disease?    – Dilip Seth, Rajkot

Dr KG Umesh: Pet parenting a dog is a big responsibility and giving your dog the best care and attention can help to improve the quality and length of your dog’s life. Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life and food which deliver additional health benefits. Great Dane becomes an adult by 18-24 months of age and feed the puppy food until this age. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to vet are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. Maybe one of the most important aspects to ensure a happy relationship between you, your family and your dog is to ensure that your dog’s requirements can be matched by your lifestyle and environment. Great Danes are prone to skeletal/joint problems during growth and make sure he gets reputed large breed puppy food.

Q: My dog is very ferocious and fearful of little things, going after people and us too and we need to give him a time out. He is just eight months old. Please help.  – Pritisha, Jorhat

Dr KG Umesh: ‘Socialisation’ is the term describing the process by which a dog learns to relate to people, other dogs and his environment. You are basically aiming at preparing your puppy for all eventualities, so that whenever he encounters anyone or anything new, he will greet it with inquisitiveness rather than fear or aggression. Expose your puppy to all sights and sounds gradually and allow him to explore and learn for himself. It is essential that your dog is fully comfortable to be with people and other pets so introduce him to all sorts of different people and pets. When taking your puppy for a walk, take some tasty snacks to rewarding him. One way of getting good socialisation with other dogs and puppies is by attending so-called ‘puppy parties’ at your locality or your local dog training group, where your puppy can meet other dogs (and other people) in a friendly and structured environment. Lastly, through training, your dog will learn to understand what his human companions expect of him and be better equipped to fit into his environment

Q: I have a 12-year-old male Indian mixed breed who is neutered. Four years back, he was diagnosed with arthritis and treated for the same. Since last three months his condition has deteriorated. I have to help him in getting up. Please advice what should I do. – Ajita Sharma, Chandigarh

Dr KG Umesh: Osteoarthritis (OA) can be a progressive problem in which pain and disuse lead to further deterioration of joint movement and function. The conservative treatment includes enforced rest, antiinflammatory drugs, and pain medication. Therapeutic exercise and physical modalities (cryotherapy, massage, thermotherapy, therapeutic ultrasound, and electrical stimulation) may be indicated to enhance motion or reduce pain, allowing improved function. A physical therapy involves suitable exercise, avoiding obesity and, least important, medication. Low impact exercise is preferable, such as swimming/ water treadmill or leashed walks. Many nutraceuticals and diets are promoted for management of joint problems. Please consult your vet before you make any change in the management. Joint supplements containing Omega-3 fatty acids, turmacin/curcuminoids (Orthoron tabs), boswellia extracts and GLM show benefits in the management.

Newer approaches under validation include depositing plateletrich plasma and stem cell medication into joints. Acupuncture has been attempted but scientifically not well validated at the moment. However, it may be tried with a qualified vet as a very low risk therapeutic approach.

Q: My Labrador is now around two years old. When she was nine months old she got her first heat. Her heat cycle is not regular now. – Manish Rawat, Rishikesh

Dr KG Umesh: Irregular heat cycle in dogs results from many causes which include obesity, inadequate nutrition, infections and metabolic diseases like hypothyroidism or ovarian problems or simply imbalance in sex hormones. Some dogs under two years of age may experience irregular cycles. Although rare, some dogs experience a condition called silent heat in which they do ovulate but the characteristic signs of being in heat, such as vulvar swelling and discharge are not observed.