Ask the expert.. | July Aug 09

Q:Blacky, my seven-year-old mixed breed, weighs around 30-32 kg. She has become fat; her stomach is big and soft even though her food intake is less. She also drinks less water and her urine is yellowish in colour. Her periods are quite irregular and she has never been mated. Her liver tests are as follows: S.G.P.T: 112.0 U/L, Serum Creatinine: 0.60MG/DL and B. U. N.: 9.30 MG/DL. Please advise.
– Preeti, Indore

A:Neoplastic or Non-neoplastic disorders may cause abdominal enlargement in senior dogs. The information and lab report provided is inadequate to make specific suggestions on either diagnosis or treatment. Therefore I would suggest complete investigations to identify the underlying cause of her problem.

Q:My three-year-old Neo Mastiff, Sheeba has developed nail growth on her paw pad. I am sure it wasn’t there until three weeks ago. Is this common in dogs? What are the causes & remedies?
– Prakash Chomini, Bangalore

A:There are many causes of claw and claw fold disease in dogs. Numerous diagnostic techniques can be employed to narrow the list of differentials. Because many of these diseases have similar symptoms, biopsy of the claw is often necessary to obtain a definitive diagnosis. I am not sure you are referring to extra claw or abnormal overgrowth of claw. There are dogs whose initial symptom is abnormal growth (onychodystrophy) of the claw. Once the diagnosis is established, an accurate prognosis can be given and a treatment plan is executed. A careful history is necessary to make a diagnosis of idiopathic onychodystrophy. Geriatric dogs with onychodystrophy may respond to gelatin or biotin supplementation.

Q:My Dachshund puppy is four months old. What kind of care should I take so that she does not develop any back problems?
– Gunjan Joshi, Nashik

A:The backbone of dogs is made up of bones called vertebrae. These bones protect the spinal cord, which extends from the brain to your pet’s tail. A pad of tough, fibrous tissue called disc is located between each vertebra. These intervertebral discs function as shock absorbers and stabilizers of the spine. In chondrodystrophic breeds like yours, the disc undergoes degeneration over time but many changes are present early in life. Disc degeneration is the main cause of the back problem but trauma is also a common cause. Dachshunds have the highest prevalence of slipped discs or disc diseases. Limiting running and jumping has been suggested to prevent occurrence, but the value of this has not been proven. Feeding balanced food and regular exercise will keep her fit and healthy. Make sure that she is not overweight or obese.

Q:My dog has motion sickness; each time I take him out in the car he throws up. Please advice how do I take care of this problem.
– Divya, Palampur

A:Travelling by car is easier for dogs; the safest way is in a crate. Many owners have discovered that an empty stomach is the best anti-illness prevention and they don’t feed their pets for up to five hours before a long car ride. It might also help to travel with your dog in his crate, if it can be securely fastened on the car’s seat or floor. The crate generally comforts your dog and gives him a place to lie down, which can reduce motion sickness. If your pet’s car sickness is truly motion related, your vet can also prescribe medications to fight travel illness. Be sure to stop frequently for potty breaks. Always keep something with your scent on it in your dog’s carrier. A piece of your clothing can be a reassuring reminder of home sweet home.

Q: I have two mixed breeds dogs, both males aged three and five years. I want to adopt a female dog. Please let me know:

  1. Will there be any dominance issues between my old dogs and new dog?
  2. When my female dog comes on heat, what should I do?
    Should I also neuter my male dogs?

– R Rao, Hubli

A:It’s important to realize that this is a huge change for other dogs—and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. Here are a few tips:

  1. Introduce her to other dogs gradually over period of few days with each dog on a leash. If all goes well up to this point, take the dogs for a walk, allowing them to sniff and investigate each other from time to time. Never talk to them in a way that is threatening. Reward good behaviour with treats/compliments of ‘good dog!’ and monitor their body language.
  2. If you don’t intend to breed your female dog, then you should seriously consider neutering. The most common methods of contraception are ovariohysterectomy (spaying) in female dogs and vasectomy or castration in males. Such procedures eliminate heat periods, objectionable behaviour, including spotting of blood in dogs, and the attraction of male animals. Spaying and neutering can reduce the risk of several different conditions later in life.
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