Q: I have a one-year-old GSD male. I would like to know what food should be given to him in summer and if any special care needs to be taken in the hot months. He sometimes is not very keen on eating food though otherwise his appetite is not much of a problem. I would also like to know certain tips on the overall health of this particular breed. How many times should we bathe him in summer?
– Snigdha, Pune
Dr KG Umesh: Heat and heat stress affects skin health and digestive health and in addition to heat stroke, the susceptible pets (puppies, young dogs, aged pets) are prone to develop a number of heat related diseases due to hyperthermia and reduced immune function. Dogs tend to eat less in summer but they spend more energy in an effort to lower the body temperature (e.g., panting). Therefore, a well-balanced nutritionally complete diet like Pedigree (which also contains some natural antioxidants) confers some protection against the effects of heat stress. Feed during cooler part of the day, if possible, or increase frequency of feeding. Make sure that you feed total recommended quantity of food for your pet in 2-3 meals. Remember to give them plenty of water so they don’t become dehydrated in the warm weather. Avoid exercising your pet in the midday heat. It’s extremely dangerous to leave a pet alone in a vehicle/room/outdoors in the sun – even with a window open – as an overheated car/room can have fatal consequences. Your pets can only cool down by panting, so make sure they have access to shade, proper shelter and water when outside. Dogs only need bathing when they are dirty or on the advice of your veterinarian.
Q: I have a five-month-old Labrador. His ears remain half erect most of times. It was alright till three months. Do I need to worry and is there something I need to do?
– Kunwar Partap Singh
Dr KG Umesh: If there are no signs of ear infection, this can be considered “normal” and many a time they become erect as ear cartilage becomes tough. Wait and watch is simple answer until he grows to an adult.
Q: My female Labrador has conceived for second time. The first time there were five puppies but were not healthy. Do advice how do I take care of her. Also in the life span of the dog, how many times is it okay for her to become pregnant? What should be the time difference between each pregnancy- so that the mother keeps healthy? If we do not want more puppies- when is it a good time to spay her?
– Rohit Medade
Dr KG Umesh: Lactation represents the most nutritionally demanding life stage for the female dog. During the first four weeks post whelping, she must eat enough to support both herself and her rapidly growing puppies. She may need to eat up to four times. Failure to meet these demands means that she will nurse her young at the expense for her own body reserves, with a resultant loss of weight and condition. The reproductive efficiency is generally greatest between three and five years of age. A female dog spayed before her first heat will have a near zero chance of developing mammary cancer but spaying can be done anytime now for your dog (avoid when she is in heat). Spaying removes both the uterus and both ovaries and is crucial in the prevention of many medical problems like mammary cancer and uterus infection etc.
Q: I want a house pet and am confused between a GSD and a Rottweiler. Can you advice what points should I consider before adopting either of them.
– Dr Vishal Shah, Ahmedabad
Dr KG Umesh: Why do you need a dog? Most people choose to keep a dog for companionship, but your choice may be influenced by whether you expect your dog to have a protective or working role, or if you intend to show or breed from your dog. You must consider your own environment (space, time for exercise etc) and the characteristics of your chosen breeds and try to match up the two and select the one who match your environment and preferences. For example, GSD is acclaimed for his versatility, renowned for his intelligence, and beloved for his devotion and loyalty to his owner. The Rottweiler is a large intimidating-looking dog with muscular and powerful body. They must be thoroughly socialized at an early age as most Rottweilers are inclined towards dominance/aggression and will test for position in the family pecking order.
Q: My Lhasa Apso puppy is 45 days old. We are feeding him four times with four hours gap: 6 am (milk), 11 am (Pedigree weaning or cerelac), 3pm (curd rice), 7 pm (cerelac), but the pup is still hungry and is asking for more. He urinates more than 20 – 30 times, sometimes white in colour and sometimes yellow. He does poop four times. Should we feed him more?
– Dinesh Koti
Dr KG Umesh: As the owner of a new puppy, you’ll want him to grow up fit and healthy, and reach his full genetic potential; all you have to do is provide your puppy with the correct diet right from the start. Proper nutrition allows for the puppy to reach his full genetic potential. It is difficult even for an experienced breeder to get the nutritional balance just right by preparing home made food. Overfeeding or too much of cereals may cause frequent and loose stools. Remember that puppies grow approximately 12 times faster than baby and baby foods/home prepared diets do not meet nutrient requirements of puppy. Mixing Pedigree with home food make his diet unbalanced. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating only commercially prepared foods like Pedigree from the very start as they are designed to meet all their nutritional requirements.
Q: I have a Labrador who is four months old. My puppy’s front legs are becoming lean and chest/abdomen is growing and his weight is 18 kg now. He is currently having dog food four times a day with a four-hour gap. Is his growth normal?
– Manjith, Trivandrum
Dr KG 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. Growing large breed puppies like yours are prone to develop skeletal problems by either overfeeding or underfeeding energy or/and calcium. It is therefore important to monitor his general condition and record his weight regularly on the puppy growth. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start. The advantages of reputed commercially prepared foods are that they meet all a dog’s nutritional requirements and they don’t require any food supplements including calcium.