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 Beagle who sheds a lot. I am told that it is because of food. Can you please advise me? – Aum Shant Patel, Bangalore
Dr KG Umesh: Hair loss or shedding results from a number of causes. Unlike human beings, hair growth cycle is different in dogs. Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics, health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and therefore, can be physiological. Dogs may also shed excessive hair because of stress, worms, harsh climate and general illness. Almost 30 percent of dietary protein as well nutrients like zinc and omega fatty acids are required for maintenance of skin and hair coat. Therefore feed your pet complete and balanced pet food.
Q: My eight-month-old Pug has developed serious skin infection since last four months. I keep in touch with our vet, but I am so worried. Please advice. – Ramesh Pendse, Pune
Dr KG Umesh: Deep skin scrapings, blood work or even biopsy may be required in dogs with any chronic dermatologic conditions to ensure the timely diagnosis of the disease. For example,parasitic diseases like demodicosis with secondary bacterial infections are common in growing young dogs. Many safer drugs are now available to cure demodicosis (bath or spot-on or pills). Because juvenile-onset demodicosis is a familial disease, any dog who develops the generalised form of demodicosis at a young age should not be used for breeding. Dogs who develop demodicosis may require additional diagnostic tests to help identify any underlying health problems
Q: I adopted a street pup at the age of 20 days. Now she is two months old and is having bowing in front legs with inversion at ankles. She was diagnosed with rickets and was given calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D without any improvement. Is this disorder called knuckling which is due to over-nutrition? Please help. – Rashmi Jain, Bhopal
Dr KG Umesh:Rickets can be prevented, but unfortunately bowing cannot be reversed with medications or diet. Both the amount and balance of nutrients provided in the diet are critical for the growing puppy and dietary errors at this stage can have damaging effects, particularly on skeletal/bone development, which may be long lasting and potentially irreversible. Over supplementation with calcium or cod liver oil etc also results in skeletal and other abnormalities. A properly balanced diet which is formulated for growth does not need any form of supplementation.Therefore continue the current balanced puppy pet food and all she needs is only water. Consult veterinary orthopaedic surgeon who may offer some help to correct or prevent further bowing of limbs.
Q: My one year old Lhasa Apso is very possessive about his toys and guards them and snaps when my children go close. How do we control this? – Apurva Nair, Thane
Dr KG Umesh: Your pet is appeared to have developed possessive or protective aggression. So, first step is avoiding all aggressive triggers and then setting up a behaviour modification plan with qualified behaviour specialist. A combination of controlled exercise, increased pet parent’s control, pet obedience to commands, and behaviour modification usually resolves the problem. For example, you may use two toys to fetch so that when the dog returns with one item, you can show the dog the other toy. This usually results in the dog dropping the first item and becoming ready to chase the second one, allowing the game to continue under your control. You may try taking away his toys and that makes him nothing to guard. You may be able to start
by holding the toy in your hand rather than putting it down, so he has to come to you for the toy. As obedience training progresses, you can also have him sit or down as you put his toy on the floor and he has to wait until you release to get it. This way you are changing his instincts or habits he has established and helping him tolerate kids near the toy from a whole new perspective. Don’t expect results overnight and consult behaviour specialist if you don’t have time or patience!
Q: Most people adopt male dogs. For female dogs, what is the best way to manage unwanted litter? Also are female dogs better in temperament than male dogs? Are there any advantages of keeping a female dog over a male dog? – Deepak Kumar, Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: Yes, there are advantages of keeping female dogs. Males can be more dominant, territorial and easily distracted than female dogs. On the other hand, males can also be more playful, active and independent. Female dogs tend to be easier to housebreak, easier to train and more connected with their pet parents but in certain circumstances they can be more demanding of attention. Aggression can be a problem in any dog of any breed; however, it is usually more apparent in males and in intact males in particular. Male dogs tend to
be larger than females of the same breed and may be a little more extrovert. Remember, female dogs come into season twice a year as part of their reproductive cycle and unless you are prepared to have her neutered, which is still the best permanent method to control unwanted litter. However, most dogs who are properly socialised as puppies and given the proper training and care can grow up to be wonderful companions – whether they are male or female
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