Q: Joey, my six-year-old Pomeranian was well toilet trained but since past six months, she has forgotten everything. In fact she loves our carpet in the drawing room and relieves herself there. Please advise.
– Tarun Bhatnagar, Chandigarh
Dr. K. G. Umesh: It is not unusual for dogs to have an occasional accident in the house. If this behaviour is occurring on regular occasions, there can be a number of reasons as to why. Has the pet got access to the outdoors? Is there an underlying medical cause? Is there an underlying behavioural cause? It is not uncommon for the older dog to lose some of the ability to control his bladder. There are many medical problems that can cause signs of incontinence. Some causes of incontinence can be due to urinary infection, cystitis, bladder stones or hereditary defect. Most urine related problems can be managed very successfully using drugs and/or diet. The other possibility for your dog’s house soiling is if there is an underlying behavioural cause, such as, submissive urination, stress, a breakdown in toilet training, territorial marking or separation anxiety. Once again, these behaviour problems can be modified effectively. Your veterinary surgeon will initially run few lab tests to rule out any underlying medical cause. If your dog has soiled the house, it is important that the affected area is cleaned promptly using a biological washing powder in warm water. If it is not cleaned effectively, she may mark that spot on repeated occasions. Therefore, it is best to seek veterinary advice to determine the true cause of the problem.
Q: I want to bring home a Labrador. Do let me know how do I go about it? What all should I look for in the puppy and should I see the parents?
– Kartik, Thane
Dr. K. G. Umesh: The best place to get a purebred dog is from a recognized, reputed and ethical breeder or rescue organization who understands the character, temperament and challenges of this breed as well as what kind of home will make their dogs the happiest. Unfortunately it is difficult to find such well-organised breeders in our country. We recommend asking lots of questions about their facility, the bloodlines of their dogs, height and weight, socialization level, health record etc and the warranties/guarantees offered. Papers may be required if you intend to show your pet in a dog show or for breeding. The vet may help to screen or identify common genetic/inherited disorders common to Labradors. You can also check with your local Vet or use an Internet search engine to buy a healthy puppy.
Q: My six-month-old Golden Retriever is constantly slipping from his hind legs, what problem can it be? – Rukmani Swami, Cochin
Dr. K. G. Umesh: Developmental skeletal disease is common in large- and giant-breed puppies. One manifestation – hip dysplasia – affects millions of dogs. Genetics, environment, and nutrition – all contribute to developmental skeletal disease. Of the nutritional components, rate of growth, specific nutrients, food amounts consumed, and feeding methods influence skeletal disease. Excess energy and calcium are known risk factors; your vet will confirm diagnosis (Bone, Joint, Trauma or Neurological) by palpating (examination by touch) the hip joints/ legs and taking x-rays. Hip dysplasia is treated with rest, restricted activity, pain medication, and in severe cases, surgery.
Q: Mocha, a five-month-old GSD, keeps sleeping and is also not interested in walks; we have to motivate her to go out. Her diet seems fine. What should I do? – Vishal Kumar, Kolkata
Dr. K. G. Umesh: Weakness can result from many different mechanisms or disorders. Poor socialization or interaction, fear or shyness or even a previous bad experience may de-motivate puppies to play or walk. Your dog may rightfully need some rest after a play or exercise. But serious conditions can also cause weakness in dogs, including joint problems (such as hip dysplasia), muscle disorders, neurological disorders, heart or respiratory disease, fever, low blood sugar levels, abnormal electrolyte levels, kidney or liver disease, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenocorticism or anaemia. Please take him to your vet ASAP.
Q: I had three dogs but have lost one to old age. One of my other two dogs has started sitting very quietly and is also not eating; we have to feed her with our hands. My vet says she is grieving. How can I help her? – Anuradha Kapoor, Guwahati
Dr. K. G. Umesh: Dogs can experience many emotions, just as humans. They may lose interest to eat or play. Some may become sluggish or tired. It may be a good idea to leave some of his belongings (blanket/lease etc) with them to sniff and remember their friend. Take them for longer walks or the park to play. Spend few minutes grooming them or play games together. Some people may want another dog, but it may not be necessary in your case.