Ask the expert…


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.


Q. I have a one-year-old mixed breed. He is not eating anything from the last two days. His body temperature is normal and is also


active. Is there anything to worry about in this? – Chitrangana, Ujjain
Dr KG Umesh: There are number of reasons for such behaviour in dog. He may have fear for new food, previous bad experience with the food, poor palatability or simply, he may be a fussy eater. Some dogs may refuse food or skip meals when they have consumed more energy than they would require, which is common in our experience feeding snacks/ home food plus commercial pet food. Please make sure that you are not over-feeding him. If anorexia persists, seek your vet’s help.


Q. We have two dogs—one is a Cocker Spaniel and another a Pug, both are females. From the past three weeks both are suffering with tick problem. I used a tick medicine, but the result isn’t good. What should I do to get them free from the ticks? I bath them once in two weeks.  – Gaurav, Kolhapur


Dr KG Umesh: Ticks lay their eggs (as many as 18,000 in some species) in sheltered areas on or near the ground. The different life stage of ticks may be found on dogs before they engorge with blood. 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 ticks control programme. There are two basic categories of
ticks control products: Adulticides and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)/ Insect Development Inhibitors (IDIs). It is always best to treat the dog and the environment on the same day. The use of these insecticid es must be preceded by a thorough vacuuming. Places where dogs spend most of their time, such as under the furniture, carpets, near pet bedding, etc, will have the greatest numbers of deposited eggs and newly emerged ticks.
Make sure that other pets/dogs he frequently contacts or visits are free from ticks. Your vet can advise you a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for you.


Q. I have an American Cocker Spaniel who is now five months old. Should I get him mated or neutered? – Mrinal Pandey, Mumbai


Dr KG Umesh: There are several health benefits to neutering/spaying than undesirable effects. There is no evidence whatsoever that allowing a dog to have mated or a litter of puppies makes it a better pet. Spaying is a routine procedure because it is performed so frequently. Spaying is often recommended as part of the treatment/prevention for diseases like cancer, atopy, epilepsy and other inheritable ones. Spaying of a male dog may help to prevent objectionable behaviours like roaming and behavioural problems like aggression.


Q. How long can I let my two-year-old GSD alone at home? It is alright to leave for 7-8 hours? Will it be a good idea to get another pup so that both can have company?
– Minakshi, New Delhi


Dr KG Umesh: Dogs are social animals and need mental as well as physical stimulation to keep them active and healthy. They just love spending time with you, whether they’re playing a game with you or just curling up next to you on the couch. So, when it comes time for you to go to work or leave the house for long period of time, it can make your dog lonely or anxious. Do you have a set routine each day before you leave the house? Perhaps you jingle your keys or put your bag near the door. Your dog picks up on these cues, and associates them with your leaving. Try to mix up your normal routine by doing your usual activities in a different order. Practice leaving—plan short trips that allow your dog to gradually adjust to being alone. If your dog seems comfortable after half an hour departure,
and exhibits no anxious behaviour, increase your time away. Go for a walk or keep your dog busy. Before you leave, bury toys and hide treats where he can find and ‘dig’ them up. Most dogs love dog toys and find them really fun. Keeping a TV or radio on can also provide ‘company’ for your pooch. Getting another pet is also not a bad idea.


Q. I have a 15 months old Rottweiler. He has become extremely aggressive and  unpredictable. We have employed a trainer, but even after numerous sessions, my pet’s aggression has not been lessened. He has bitten everyone in the family. Everyone says I should give him up, but I don’t want to. I wish to keep him with me. Some have suggested neutering, some have suggested filing his teeth down. Someone has advised for progesterone injections. He has extreme resource guarding also and demonstrates fear aggression. Please help. – Sumone, Nagpur


Dr KG Umesh: The two most common manifestations of aggressive behaviour in ‘growing dogs’ toward humans are fear biting and dominancerelated aggression. The first step for you as a pet parent is to distinguish playful aggressive behaviours from more serious types of aggressions, such as possessive aggression, conflict/dominance-related aggression,  protective aggression, and predatory behaviour. Fear biting is most commonly seen in a
dog raised without appropriate human contact during the socialisation period of growth (6 to 12 weeks of age). When a dog shows aggression toward family members rather than strangers, the animal is probably attempting to establish dominance over those family members. Biting is canine dominance behaviour and is surprisingly, a form of   communication to establish standing within the pack—your family. In the eyes of a dog, all the members of your family are fellow pack members. So, if the pack leader (your dog) decides that a member of the pack (you or a family member) is getting out of line, he may bite that person to show them ‘who’s the boss’. If your dog is properly trained to sit, stay and come, he’ll be less likely to be aggressive with people because his first concern will be to obey your commands. A dog who’s under control and knows you are the leader of his ‘pack’ will behave and won’t bite anyone. It is still not too late for you, with the help of a ‘qualified’ dog behaviourist it’s possible to correct this problem. This process will also require you and your family to make changes in the way you interact with your dog as well. That means not encouraging rough play (no slapping or wrestling; play only with toys) and everyone being diligent in enforcing basic commands to show your dog who the real leaders of the household are. Don’t abruptly reach for your dog or his collar or pull his legs.
First have the dog sit and stay. Then leash the dog. Don’t disturb him when he is resting, sleeping, or lying in front of a door or on the sofa or bed. Likewise, don’t let your dog sleep on the bed, especially if he reacts aggressively when disturbed there. If he barks, growls, or ignores you, try to shift his attention  to an exercise or a task he knows well. If this doesn’t help, walk away from the dog, or sequester him in another room. Banishment and withdrawal of attention are the most potent forms of correction.