Ask the expert… | Sep Oct 13

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: I have two dogs – Pomeranian and Labrador (mix), both male and eight years old. They are fully vaccinated and dewormed. My Pomeranian started scratching and there were red spots and also hair loss which spread. With the help of a veterinarian and medicines, he got relief for some days but the problem is back. Please help.
– Rajesh Udai, Ajmer

Dr KG Umesh: Skin problems are common in dogs as their skin is thin and the barrier function is poor, compared to man or other animals. Any dog with chronic or recurring skin disease must be subjected to investigations like skin scraping or blood tests to find the underlying cause. Proper nutrition particularly zinc, fats and vitamins can help to strengthen skin barrier function. Therefore continue only commercially prepared food that meets all your pet’s nutritional requirements and your pet won’t need any food supplements. My approach would be to find underlying cause(s) for scratching (like fleas, mange, allergy, bacterial or yeast infection, etc) and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications.

Q: My dog has developed a rash on her right front paw which she keeps biting – so it has become like a minor wound. I have been applying Betadine and my vet advised to put an Elizabethan collar, which she does not wear. The wound is not healing. Please advice.
– Apurva, Hyderabad

Dr KG Umesh: Allergies, parasites, bacterial, fungal or yeast infections are common causes of rashes developing on paws of dogs. If the rash has not responded to treatment, your vet may advise few lab tests to find underlying cause. Self-mutilation and Acral Lick Dermatitis (caused by boredom or behavioural problems) are also frequent causes. Elizabethan collars are helpful in such cases. Your vet may prescribe topical creams that help to relieve itching sensation and promote healing.

Q: I have two female Golden Retrievers – they have their heat cycles – approximately within a week of each other. Currently both are three years old. One of the dogs missed her 3rd cycle – but when the other was having the 4th one – she (the one who missed the 3rd) had her cycle. Is it normal for cycle to be delayed?
– Joy Fernandes, Bengaluru

Dr KG Umesh: Oestrus/heat cycle lasts about three weeks. The first signs of heat are usually a swollen vulva and a blood-stained discharge. On average, this will continue for about nine days, this is the period of pro-oestrus. This stage is followed by a period of oestrus when the vulva will be very enlarged and the discharge will appear straw-coloured rather than blood-stained. During oestrus, male dogs will be attracted to the female dogs. Many a time these signs may go unnoticed or absent. Most female dogs, if not mated, will come into season approximately every 6-9 months, although very large breeds of dogs may cycle anything up to once in 15 months. Consult your vet if she continues to miss her cycles or shows any abnormal vulvar discharge or signs.

Q: My four-month-old Lhasa Apso while playing jumped from my bed about one week back. Since then he has gradually stopped playing and now even he walks very less. He keeps lying down in his bed or floor and when he walks, at times, he limps with his front right foot. When I spoke to my vet regarding the problem, he has prescribed me Melonex Oral. Is the medicine ok for him? What should I do? Also, advise on the dietary needs of dogs?
– Samrat Dey, Mangaldai, Assam

Dr KG Umesh: Please take him to your vet for complete physical examination to rule out any serious injuries. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs like Melonex will control pain or inflammation but may not remove the underlying cause. These drugs must be given under your vet’s supervision as they cause serious adverse effects in puppies when you exceed dose or duration. Manufactured dry pet foods not only provide complete nutrition and are also cheaper compared to home prepared diet. Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep them fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life (puppy and adult) and foods which deliver additional health benefits (small breed puppy and adult). Please remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort and expertise. There is no need to feed any tonics/calcium or home diet while he is feeding on a balanced food except clean fresh water.

Q: Éclair – my one and a half year old Lab – eats his food very fast and then throws up. I feed him three times a day. We feed home-cooked meals and dry dog food. What should I do?
– Ishani Rai, Chennai

Dr KG Umesh: Most Labradors have ravenous appetite and this greedy eating sometimes causes in-coordination in movement of ingested food from mouth to stomach through food pipe. This allows food to accumulate in food pipe, to be expelled through the mouth. Frequent small meals may help to prevent this normal regurgitation. Some dogs tend to eat food fast for the fear of competition. Please make sure that he is comfortable and has safe environment while eating his meals. Just like us, adult dogs need a balanced diet which contains just the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, many different vitamins and minerals to ensure that they stay in peak condition and maintain optimal health. Unless properly formulated by a nutritionist or a vet, diets made at home are not likely to be nutritionally complete and balanced. Prepared pet foods from reputed pet food manufacturers come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Therefore continue feeding only recommended quantity of the prepared pet food.