Ask the expert..| May-june 09

I took out almost 70 ticks from my two dogs – Zack, a Golden Retriever and Cody, a Spaniel, who are 4 months old. Please do advice me a safe method. Is a tick bath safe at their age? Do we have spot on for puppies? Is there a vaccine for ticks- is it safe and what age can it be administered? What can I do to prevent those ticks on my puppies?
– Shaynaya Doyle, Gurgaon

To control ticks or fleas on a dog, all animals in the household must be part of the flea/ticks control programme. There are two basic categories of flea/ticks control products: Adulticides (these products kill adults fleas) and Insect growth regulators (IGRs)/insect development inhibitors (IDIs) (these products prevent fleas/ticks from hatching or maturing). Flea and tick control products for dogs include a variety of drugs and chemicals available as collars, shampoos, sprays, dips, powders, long lasting topicals, and oral medications. There are no vaccines available at present to control ticks. Thorough cleaning of the house and yard should precede any application of insecticides. Places where dogs spend most of their time will have the greatest numbers of deposited eggs and newly emerged adult fleas and ticks. It is always best to treat the dog and the environment on the same day. Make sure that other pets/dogs he frequently contact/visit are free from fleas and ticks. The veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for the client. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

My dog’s fur has a lot of dandruff-like thing in it and there has been a lot of hairfall. Now I don’t find new fur growing. Please help.
– Ramdev R, Mangalore

Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics and health that can cause dogs 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. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause/s (like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection, etc) and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore hair fall. Evening Primrose oil capsules (1 cap per day) or Sunflower oil/saffola oil/corn oil (2-4 tsp) and Zinc capsules everyday in the feed may also help him improve his hair coat in the short term when no underlying cause is identified.

I have a Lab puppy (male) around three months old. What all precautions should be taken in terms of his good health?
– Saurabh Shrivastava, Ghaziabad

The first few months of your puppy’s life show a very rapid development, and most Labradors become adult by 12-14 months of age. Feeding your dog a well-balanced puppy diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose in Pedigree designed for puppy and Special food like Pedigree large breed which deliver additional health benefits. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian (vaccination and worms treatment) are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy.

My Lab pair are somewhat related. Do you think it is alright to breed them?
– Mala, Bhuwaneshwar

If a dog suffers from a disease that is suspected, but not proven, to be inherited, the dog should not be used for breeding. If close relatives of such a dog are used for breeding, they should be mated to dogs from bloodlines with low or no occurrence of the same disease. Breeding of siblings or continued line breeding results in increased mortality rates.

My two-year-old female Lab is very shy. She doesn’t bark back at street dogs when she goes for a walk. Some days back she was attacked by a street dog, luckily she did not get hurt but after the incident she is even more scared of the dogs and doesn’t like to go for a walk where there are dogs. What can I do to make her more confident?
– Amit Jhingran, Hisar

The best advice we can give is to pinpoint whom it is that might induce fear in your dog. This will help you avoid any unpleasant situations. Non-confident canines require very gentle training and lots of patience from their owners. One of the most common causes of shyness is the lack of exposure to new people and places at a young age. Dogs look to their owners to be the ‘alpha dog’ of their ‘pack’, and to guide them safely into new and stimulating situations. Without these experiences, the dog may become timid and skittish when introduced to things outside their immediate familiarity. She looks to you for guidance and protection, and therefore you must exhibit the level of confidence and firmness you would like your dog to follow. When your dog is frightened, it’s human to want to comfort your dog and say “it’s OK”. However, your dog assumes that you are praising her for being scared – which reinforces skittish behaviour.

Shy dogs need to have repeated positive experiences with many different people. Most shy dogs can become friendly with positive human interaction. Never force your dog to do anything that makes her nervous. Consider obedience training and introduce her to strangers, dogs or places gradually.

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