Ask the Expert / Mar-Apr 2010

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer 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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia

Q: My six years old GSD is having an infection on her front leg near the elbow area. It’s a black patch and she keeps licking that area. Now, it is bleeding and little puss is coming out from that patch, we have tried many medicines and creams in consultation of vets, but it’s just not healing, can you recommend some medicines which will dry that wound? – Sanskriti, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Any wound that shows poor response to conventional therapy should undergo some basic laboratory tests like biopsy, culture or cytology to find underlying cause. Some common causes are deep pyoderma, sinus, lick granulomas which require aggressive treatment. Please consult your vet who may recommend suitable tests to find specific therapy.

Q: I am a new pet owner of a three months old Pug. Do advice what human medicines are not to be given to dogs at all? – K Pathak/ Sirsa

Dr KG Umesh: For a basic first aid kit, I would suggest having cotton balls, paracetomol syrup for fever, an antihistamine or steroid ointment in case of an insect bite, Savlon or Betadine liquid to clean out a wound, bandages to make a muzzle and to protect an injured area, balanced oral electrolyte solution to prevent dehydration from vomiting or diarrhoea, and astringent/gauze pads to help stop bleeding. All drugs are dosed in dogs generally on body weight basis and therefore any human medicine can cause serious adverse effects when used inappropriately in dogs. Common poisoning of pets from human medicines includes pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs (Brufen, Diclofenac), drugs used for hypertension, vitamin D, cardiac drugs, cough syrups and many more. Remember to always phone your veterinarian for advice before you attempt to do anything to help your pet.

Q: My dog is eight years old and her paws are cracked. Please advice. – Hema Sen/ Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: There are several known causes of cracked footpads. You will need to take your dog to the vet so he can give your dog a thorough examination and to see what has caused the cracking of his pads. A dog’s paws exposed to irritants, floor cleaning detergents, chemicals or even cold pavement or rough road – all of which cause drying and cracking of the paw pads. Some common medical causes include allergies, chronic yeast infection, autoimmune diseases and nutritional deficiencies. Some dogs develop a condition called digital hyperkeratosis which can only be controlled with topical creams. Meanwhile, try smearing petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or moisturising creams every 4-6 hours. Wrap your pet’s paw after cleaning to prevent infection or dust collecting between cracks and old sock can sometime help. Consider using dog booties. Feed her on complete food like Pedigree to prevent any nutritional deficiency.

Q: Pepper, my eight years old Basset Hound, is having a stiff back. He seems to wince in pain when we touch him. Do advice what all is to be done to diagnose the problem. – Stephan/ Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: 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 a 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. Your vet may advice radiograph, spinal tap or even MRI or CT scan to identify cause of back problem. Some dogs respond well to rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication. However, some dogs treated with rest and medications have recurrent attacks of back problems. Your veterinarian may recommend surgery if the disease is rapid and severe, if weakness or paralysis is present, or if your pet had repeated attacks. 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 him fit and healthy. Make sure that he is not overweight or obese.

Q: My two months old male Pug frequently gets very small boils under the body on his stomach. Our vet has given him two doses of antibiotics, they go for a week and then again come back. Can you please help? – Prashin Jhobalia, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Superficial bacterial infection (pyoderma) is an extremely common presentation in the dog. In the majority of cases, it is caused by Staphylococcus intermedius. Staphylococci are carried on normal dogs at certain body sites. Superficial pyoderma can be follicular or non-follicular. The non-follicular pyoderma (bacterial impetigo) is very common condition in puppies particularly on skin of ventral abdomen/groin region. The development of recurrent pyoderma is most commonly a secondary phenomenon and predisposing factors should be investigated. Any condition that disrupts normal skin barrier function or compromises the immune system may predispose to the development of pyoderma. Some common predisposing causes of impetigo in puppies include unhygienic bedding/floors, urine scald or poor nutrition. Feed him good quality puppy food like Pedigree and keep him clean with antibacterial wash/creams for at least few weeks following complete recovery.

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