Ask the expert | May June 07

Q : Please give me some information on female dog heat cycle. When is the right time to get Lucy, my 3-month-old Pomeranian, spayed? – Tara Verma, Patna

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Puppies usually have their first heat at about 6 months of age. However this can vary from breed to breed (4 months gto 18 months). The first signs of heat are usually swollen vulva and a blood stained discharge. On average, this (pro-estrous) will continue for about 9 days. This stage is followed by a period of estrous, where the discharge may turn to straw color and she will attract male dogs. Ovulation occurs 2 days after the start of estrous. Most female dogs, if not mated, will come to season (heat) approximately every 6 months. If you do not want to breed from your dog, consult your veterinarian on neutering or other forms of reproductive control. Some vets do spaying as early as 6 months, while some prefer to do it few weeks after her first cycle. There are advantages and drawbacks to each.

Q : I have a 4-month-old St. Bernard pup. Please give me information regarding his overall care, including height and weight chart. – Amarpreet, Delhi

Dr. K.G. 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. Feeding only mutton/meat could lead to skeletal/bone problems in large breed like yours. Likewise feeding excess energy (too much food in growing phase) and calcium make large breed to develop skeletal (bone and joint) problems in the later part of life. Large breeds like yours take longer time to mature (15-18 months). As your pet is still a puppy (until 18 months of age), we suggest to start him on puppy food like “Pedigree Large Breed Puppy” food, which is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of growing large breed puppies. St. Bernard should usually attain minimum height of 69 cms (76-86 cm) and weights have been recorded from 70 to 95 kg (some >100 kg). Waltham has developed “SHAPE” guide that will help you to monitor body condition. Please ask your vet for a copy of the same.

Q : My 6-year-old Pekingese sleeps almost throughout the day. What is the correct amount of sleep for him? – Prerna Suri, New Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Firstly, excessive sleep or inappropriate sleep must be differentiated from lethargy or depression. Does he show any abnormal pattern in sleep? What is level of his physical activities? Does he show any signs of systemic illness or is he under any medication? Please take him to vet for complete neurological examination and to rule out metabolic associated weakness and endocrine diseases like hypothyroidism.

Q : I have a mixed breed dog (Pom and German Shepherd), who frequently licks her private part (vulva). Why does she do it and how can I stop this? – Preeti, Indore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : There can be a number of reasons for your dog to behave like this. She might be in heat or suffering from local infection. Please take her to your vet for complete examination that may help to find underlying cause.

Q : Is wet nose of a dog a sign of good health? – Vivek Anand, Mumbai

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Although wet nose may be a sign of health, most illnesses are shown by a combination of signs and symptoms. Signs of illness in dogs vary depending on age of dog, system affected, type and duration of illness etc. For e.g., some dogs with simple fever continue to eat and play and also have wet nose, while some become lethargic and lose appetite. Therefore regular visits to your vet for monitoring his health is essential in preventing and controlling serious ailments.

Q : How can I determine that my dog has fever? – Deepika Shastri, Bangalore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Rectal thermometers are still the best way to check the body temperature of dogs as it is most reliable and validated. Some veterinary rectal thermometers are made exclusively for use in pets. You can also use human digital thermometer at home for monitoring you pet’s rectal temperature. However, human thermometers used on ear or fingertips are not recommended for pets.