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: My nine-month-old Labrador is suffering from hair fall. What should I do?
–Raj Kumar Bag, Orissa
Dr KG Umesh: The skin is a large, metabolically active organ with a high demand for protein and other nutrients; consequently, alterations in the animal’s internal environment, particularly his own nutrient supply, are reflected in the condition of the skin and coat. A healthy coat is less likely to have a lot of loose hair to shed. Unlike human beings, hair growth cycle of a dog is different. For example, hair do not grow continuously in dogs. Hair growth cycles vary depending on genetic and growth factors, age, breed, sex, location (region of the body), hormonal influence, stresses, nutrition, blood loss, high fever, acute onset of diseases, numerous environmental factors (day length or photoperiod, grooming, harsh climate, friction and trauma), clipping, grooming and drug therapy. A daily brushing works best because it helps to get rid of all of your dog’s loose hair. If you can’t brush him every day, aim for at least two good brushings per week. A balanced diet that is rich in fatty acids, minerals like zinc and digestible proteins will keep your dog’s coat strong and healthy, and will help decrease excessive shedding.
Q: We have a second home, a bit away from Delhi. From past three years, our yellow Lab, now six years old, regularly visits this place. He was always excited to come here. But in the month of March he got bitten by another domestic dog here. Ever since he hates coming here and also he is frightened by the sight of any other dog. Please help.
–Shweta Malhotra, New Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: Prevention of fear disorders is best achieved with adequate socialisation before the age of fourteen weeks of age and continued positive interactions post-socialisation period. A reasonable goal is to teach him to pay attention to you when walking around with other dogs, and ignore them. The trick to overcoming fear lies in teaching the dog to relax in the company of dog. One approach is that you can adopt to stroke the dog or feed him snacks and talk to him soothingly to have a pleasant experience rather than a frightening one in the presence of dogs. Give him time to get used to things and good training with a good handler builds self-esteem, confidence, and enjoyment in life for the submissive dog.
Q: I have a one year and ten months old female Pomeranian puppy, whom I am feeding home-cooked food because she refuses to eat any dog food. She eats very little and is a bit thin. Also she is shedding a lot. What shall I do to keep her in size? I also have a German Shepherd whose one ear is not standing. Please advice.
–Bobby, Najibabad, Bijnor
Dr KG Umesh: Just like you, dogs need a balanced diet which contains just the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, many different vitamins and minerals to ensure that they stay in peak condition. Our research indicated that most home-made diets/baby foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate and do not meet recommended nutritional requirements. Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Gradually introduce the pet food over a 5-10 day period by mixing very small amounts of the balanced pet food with old diet. Remember that too quickly a change over may upset your pet’s metabolic balance and they may also lose interest in food. Please remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort, and expertise. It is difficult even for an experienced breeder to prepare balanced diet for dogs. There is no need to feed any supplements like calcium or home diet while he is feeding on balanced food except clean fresh water.
Get your German Shepherd examined from your vet to find the underlying cause of the problem – nutritional, orthopaedic or neuromuscular, etc.
Q: I have an eleven-month-old Lab puppy. He was eating rice very well. Suddenly he stopped eating rice and wants to eat other stuff like fish, chicken, etc. Please advice.
–Girish Kumar KP, Malappuram
Dr KG Umesh: There are number of reasons for your pet to behave like this. For example, previous bad experience with the food, poor palatability or simply he may be a fussy eater. Some dogs may refuse food/skip meals, when they have consumed more energy than they would require. Please make sure that you are not overfeeding him and monitor his body weight at least every two weeks. No single ingredient/source of diet will provide all the nutrients and energy requirement of a dog. Rice is rich in starch but lack many nutrients required for a dog or puppy. Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including puppy diets designed for specific stages of life and food which deliver additional health benefits (Puppy Large breed).
Q: I have a two years old Golden Retriever who he is really obese. Please suggest me some ways to help him reduce weight.
–Ritwik Talwar, Jammu
Dr KG Umesh: If you think your dog is overweight/obese, don’t do anything until you have discussed the matter with your vet. He will be able to provide you with a detailed feeding and exercise plan, if necessary. If you are given a weight-reduction plan, be sure that you follow it! Weight loss should be a gradual process so it is important that you help your dog keep it up. Simply reducing feeding quantity of regular food will put him at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Ask your vet about regular follow-ups as you need to see if the plan is working. This may happen at set interv als until your dog reaches the desired weight. Seek advice from your vet on the kind of treats you can feed your dog whilst on the weight-reduction plan.
The things you can do at home includes – keep the pet out of the kitchen and dining room, during meal preparation. Employ good feeding practices: Feed according to guidelines, monitor weight and adapt as required. Discontinue treats or restrict to <10 percent of daily caloric intake. Encourage exercise: toys, food balls, walking, swimming, etc. Consider a food diary and promote a healthy lifestyle.