Ask the Expert… | Nov-Dec- 2014

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: Julius – a fawn Labrador – is five years old. His hair colour is changing around his eyes and his snout, though his activity/food level remains normal. Do let us know if he is greying and if it is fine?
–Deepti, Karnalask the expert cats
Dr KG Umesh: The colour of hair relies on several factors, including the melanosomes (their number, size, shape and distribution), the type of melanin, abnormalities of keratin that alter its opacity and exogenous substances coating or penetrating the hair shaft, although the major factor is undoubtedly the presence or absence of melanin. Hair or fur colour is under genetic control. Greying is not currently thought of as a good marker of biological ageing, but is related to chronological ageing. Nutritional deficiencies (Tyrosine, malnutrition or inborn errors in metabolism), metabolic disorders and drug therapy have been linked with the greying process. Therefore feed him complete and balanced diet before your vet investigates possible causes.

Q: Please provide a diet plan for a one-year-old St Bernard puppy.
–R Preetham, Mysore
Dr KG Umesh: The amount of time taken for a growing large breed puppy to become adult is approximately 18- 24 months. A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a dog in order to prepare him for an active, long, and healthy life. Therefore, accurate feeding and provision of all nutrients at optimal level is essential to maximise puppy’s genetic potential to grow. Puppy’s nutritional requirements are almost twice that of an adult dog and are different to human. For example, puppies not only need significantly more protein than adult dogs and babies (approximately six times each day) but also require highly digestible proteins and energy dense food for optimum growth. Our research indicated that most homemade diets/foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate nutritionally and growth and development may not be optimum. It is difficult even for an experienced breeder to prepare a balanced diet for puppies at home. Therefore feed a complete puppy food and some pet food companies have a specifically designed puppy food for large/giant breeds. Don’t supplement anti-vitamins or calcium or home food while he is feeding on puppy food.

Q: I have a nine-to-six job but want to bring home a small breed puppy. Please advice.
–Sangeeta Desai, Bengaluru
Dr KG Umesh: Pet parenting a dog is a big responsibility and giving your dog the best care and attention can help to improve the quality and length of your dog’s life. Dogs are social animals. They need a lot of attention, especially when young, and sufficient time must be set aside for their training, exercise and grooming. In particular, toilet training puppies will be difficult if you spend a lot of time away during this critical period. If your lifestyle means your dog would be on his own for most of the day, then perhaps you should reconsider your choice of pet. Another choice of pet like cats/hamsters may be more suitable.

Q: My GSD named Kiara is one year and two months old. The trainer we had trusted her with has not trained her well. Kiara is very energetic and she runs around the house. She has become very hyper and lacks basic command training. She still poops inside the house in the garage. Please advice.
–Urmi Chakraborty, Kolkata
Dr KG Umesh: All the concerns you mentioned here may be due to poor socialisation while raising your dog from puppyhood. Socialisation is the term describing the process by which a dog learns to relate to people, other dogs and her environment. And, if your dog is socialised properly, she’ll be comfortable around strangers and in new situations.
So, provide your dog with a chance to socialise with people/children/pets and other things. Reward is, of course, the best motivation of good behaviour; so it’s important to praise the dog while she’s doing the right thing, not afterwards (ignore unwanted behaviour). In the canine-human pack, it is imperative that the dog understands that she is lower ranking than any human and a dog who’s under control and knows you are the leader of her ‘pack’ will ‘behave’. If your dog is properly trained to ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’, she’ll be less likely to be shown these behaviours with people because her first concern will be to obey your commands. Lastly, exercise and play with your dog regularly that helps to bring down her energy/excitement. Visit your vet who can help you to find a good professional trainer.

Q: My female boxer dog is one and a half years old. She has started scratching her neck and thighs too much. What should I do?
–Ranvir Grewal, Sangrur
Dr KG Umesh: Itching in dogs result from a number of reasons including simple causes like dry skin to parasites, infections and allergies. Therefore, finding the underlying cause will help to find the specific treatment. You may not be able to find permanent solution with symptomatic treatment with shampoos or medications like anti-histamines/steroids. Visit your vet before her itching becomes generalised.