Ask the Expert / May-June 2006

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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia

Q : My Dog MnM was given Coronavirus booster, within half an hour, he was vomiting and became extremely lethargic. After 2 hours, he suddenly began to suffer from itching and a violent allergic reaction set in all over his body. His vet advised me to bring him in immediately for another injection. The reaction subsided in a couple of hours but the facial oedema left him only after 24 hours. Please guide what to do when the next Coronavirus booster is due. – Nanda Anil

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Dogs are very susceptible to certain infectious diseases, especially canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and rabies. Combined vaccination (all in one) against all these diseases as well as kennel cough, corona viral gastro-enteritis etc has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. The initial vaccination series consists of one injection of a combined vaccine (multivalent) given at 6 to 8 weeks of age or about 2 weeks after weaning. Boosters are given twice at 3-4-week intervals until 16-20 weeks of age. Thereafter they require annual vaccinations. In most states, the first shot of rabies vaccine is given at 3 months of age. These booster injections not only help maintain his immunity, but they also provide a good opportunity for your veterinarian to carry out a full health check.

Adverse reactions to vaccines in dogs are very uncommon. However, some dogs may develop allergies/adverse reaction to proteins/ chemicals present in a vaccine and such dogs generally show signs immediately (or after few hours) after injections. An adverse reaction to a vaccine or drug is managed by avoiding the offending protein (allergen). Fortunately, most of these signs are reversible with immediate medical intervention. Therefore I suggest getting his booster vaccination done where such facilities are available to handle adverse reactions and make sure that such vaccination reactions are recorded in the vaccination certificate/medical record also.

Q : My dog Ruby has been diagnosed to have symptoms of false pregnancy. Please tell me about this condition, and what should I do? – Antara, Mumbai

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Phantom or false pregnancy are not uncommon in unneutered female dogs and occurs generally about 70-80 days after the start of her season. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include, some or all of the following: reluctance to eat, nest making, nursing or guarding inanimate objects (toy, etc), swollen mammary glands, milk production, general distress, nervous signs including panting and breathlessness and change in temperament (some may snap). The good news is that Ruby should be back to normal in 2-3 weeks time, however, there are few things which you can do to help her. To reduce milk production, reduce water intake slightly and feed less carbohydrates and increase exercise. Remove the toys/objects, which she’s nursing, and remove her bed during the day so that she can’t nest. If the symptoms are severe and these actions don’t seem to help, then it may be necessary for your vet to give her some hormone/medical therapy in form of tablets or injections. Your vet might even suggest a mild sedative if she is very distressed. As she has already had one false pregnancy, she may more likely to have others and may experience more severe symptoms. I would suggest that you discuss with your vet the pros and cons of neutering (spaying) if you are not planning to breed from her.

Q : I have noticed my dog coughing and sneezing occasionally, and having a running nose. What could be the reasons? – Suparna Saha, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Cough, like fever, is merely a symptom of a disease. Dogs can cough for a variety of reasons including irritation from allergies, change in climate, inhaled gases and foreign bodies. Coughing can also result from inflammation of the upper or lower airways, which can be acute (e.g., kennel cough) or more chronic (e.g. bronchitis). Likewise, if cough develops with difficulty in breathing during exercise or walk, you should also consider heart problem as one of the causes. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is to get him examined. Your vet is the right person to decide what test needs to be done immediately. Your vet might prescribe bronchiodilators or anti-tussives to suppress cough symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q :We have 3 stray dogs who hang around our house and each time I step out with Misty and Bruno – my two Labs, they try to play with them. Can my dogs catch any diseases from them. Should I get the strays vaccinated? Please advise. – Nawal Verma, Ajmer

Dr. K.G. Umesh : To make your dogs feel more comfortable around their canine counterparts, start with dogs that you already know to be trustworthy. There is no harm allowing your pets to interact with these stray dogs as long as they are healthy, vaccinated and free from fleas and skin diseases. If you are unsure about their health and behaviour, I would suggest you to take the responsibility of providing complete preventive health care for these stray dogs. Your pets should always be leashed when you take them for a walk.