Ask the Expert ….| July Aug 08

My dog Joey, who is a12 years old Lab has a lump on the back of his leg, I have been advised by my vet to go in for Chemotherapy. My concern is my dog’s age, to undertake the treatment at his age. Please do advice me what should I do. Also, I have two more dogs who keep playing with Joey – are they at any danger?
– Akshay, Delhi

If your vet does find a lump or tumour, a biopsy will be sent to a laboratory for analysis by a pathologist. This will help determine the type of growth, and whether or not it’s malignant/cancer. Bear in mind that not all tumours are cancerous. Lipomas (fatty tumours), warts, and histiocytomas are seldom dangerous and removal is a straight-forward procedure. Removal of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) and other tumours are much more difficult. In these cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are options to consider. Success of chemotherapy depends on the type and stage of cancer and some drugs may relieve discomfort and prolong a good quality of life. You should be prepared for possible chemotherapy-induced side effects. Few tumours like transmissible venereal (sexually transmitted) can be risk to other dogs but responds very well to chemotherapy.

We recently adopted a 2-month-old Spaniel pup, after one week, he fell sick and was diagnosed with distemper. To the uttermost grief of my family we had to put him to sleep. Is the virus in the environment and how can I protect the next pup? Also advise how one can ensure that the pup is healthy? Are there any norms/ guidelines which breeders follow? Are there any rules/ laws in India governing pet breeding?
– Anjali Das, Kolkata

Dogs are very susceptible to certain infectious diseases, especially distemper, ICH, parvovirus etc., which are preventable diseases. Distemper is transmitted usually by inhalation of virus in the air, which is contaminated by discharges from suffering dogs. Combined vaccination (all in one) against all these diseases has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. Most pups lose protection from mother (maternal antibodies) at 6 –14 weeks of age; therefore, 2-3 vaccinations (2-3 weeks apart) are administered during this period. The risk of disease and stress-induced illness is greater for puppies. The best place to obtain a healthy puppy is from a recognised and reputable breeder or through your veterinarian. It is always best to see the mother if you are buying a puppy, so you can check that she is healthy and her puppies are free from signs of illness and all kinds of stress (weaning early, worms).

I recently read in a leading national daily that dog conjunctivitis cases are on the rise. Do explain about this diseases, prevention and cure.
– Rajeev, Jallandhar

Conjunctivitis in dogs can be primary due to allergy or infection or secondary due to underlying eye or internal diseases (glaucoma, uveitis, immune-mediated disease, tumours). Certain infections tend to become seasonal due to favourable conditions. Spasms of eyelids, abnormal persistent eye discharge or redness etc are the early signs that require immediate medical attention. Your vet may advise solutions and ointments to be applied after cleaning eyes. Some dogs may require Elizabethan collar to prevent self-trauma. Regular vaccination and health checks may help to prevent some forms of conjunctivitis.

I have to feed tablets to my pet, what is the best way to feed it? If I mix it with food, she gets the smell and does not eat it. If I try to put it into her mouth directly, she does not like it and growls.
– M Sathish, Trivandrum

It is important to practice tablet-giving (e.g., Vitamin pill) from the time your pooch is a puppy. Dogs will readily take some tablets/syrup designed for dogs or kids which are palatable. If crushing the tablet in food or disguised in other ways do not work, open the dog’s mouth with left hand by tilting the head upwards with thumb and index finger pushed in from outside the lips, behind canine tooth. With the opposite hand, open the mouth wide by pressing down on the lower incisors with your middle two fingers; pop the pill on the tongue as far back in the mouth as you can. Close the mouth, and hold it closed while stroking the throat to make the dog swallow. Visit your vet who can help you train giving pills to your pet. You can also try dog pill dispenser available in some pet shops or clinics.