Ask the Expert / Sep-Oct 2005

Q : I have a 2-year-old German Shepherd (male) who weighs around 20 kg. Although, I keep him fully vaccinated, duly de-wormed and well groomed, still he has a problem of itching and hair falling. He is also quite active but consumes a low diet (maximum two chapattis/75-100g of Pedigree food). I want him to gain more weight. Kindly guide me. –Tarun Kumar Goel, Delhi

Dr. Umesh : Itching (and hair fall) is most common sign associated with many skin affections. Ectoparasites (fleas), allergies (Atopy), and bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) account for majority of cases. Please take your pet to your vet to rule in or rule out common causes based on history, examination, skin scraping, and allergy testing etc. Dogs with severe continuous itching should be evaluated for Scabies, flea allergy, Atopy (pollens allergy) and yeast infections etc. For e.g., if fleas are present, they should be suspected as cause and aggressive flea control should be instituted to eliminate fleas from environment. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment. I would also like to point out that your dog is not receiving complete and balanced food. While he is on Pedigree, feeding home diet like meat/chapattis makes his food unbalanced. This could result in imbalance of some essential nutrients required for your dog. Hence, I suggest to feed a balanced and complete diet like Pedigree exclusively so that your dog not only enjoys eating but also show visible signs of health. I suggest to start him on Pedigree “Active” which is energy dense and should help him to put on weight as well as improve skin and coat condition. If your dog is still not putting on weight despite adequate intake of calories (even after 2 weeks of Pedigree Active feeding), I would advise you to get him examined by your vet to rule out medical conditions that cause weight loss/maldigestion.

Q : Scooby is a Great Dane who was proactive but has a changed behaviour since we shifted to our farmhouse. Earlier, he played and jumped all the time and was quite hyperactive, leaving no chance for me to rest. What should I do? –Jitaakash, Gurgaon

Dr. Rana : Moving can be stressful and disruptive for everyone involved – including your dog. There are, however, steps you can take to make the experience less traumatic. You could have made some arrangements before shifting, e.g., you could have taken your dog for a visit beforehand. Well, it is not too late to help your dog get settled in and accustomed to his new surroundings. Introduce him to all new things/ people/animals etc. over a period of time. Wait until your dog is comfortable with one room before introducing him to the next one. Make sure he knows where his things are – point out the location of your dog’s bed, toys, food, etc. so he knows where to find them. Don’t coddle your dog if he is stressed. It may just perpetuate the behaviour. Finally, make sure that throughout the day, you maintain a normal feeding and walking schedule for your dog. This will go a long way in reducing your dog’s and your stress level.

Q : I have a litter of 4 Pugs. One of the smallest, whom I have kept on liquefied puppy food along with goat milk, has developed a breathing trouble due to which food comes out of his nose. He also repeats this while nursed by his mother. I have even tried to feed him myself but still the trouble continues. Moreover, unlike his littermates, he curls and sleeps after meals. Kindly suggest the appropriate measures to control this. –Janis

Dr. Umesh : Some puppies often start regurgitating after solid food is instituted or during nursing. If one among four puppies is affected, congenital defects like cleft palate (improper closure in roof of the mouth) or megaoesophagus (enlarged food pipe) are suspected. Puppies who may regurgitate acutely may have ingested foreign body lodged in food pipe. Likewise inflamed airways due to aspiration of food/milk in windpipe could be a cause. Affected puppies fail to grow normally and become very weak. Please get him examined by your vet immediately before he develops complications. Q :We recently got a new pup home and my 3-year-old Golden Retriever is not happy about it. He growls at the new puppy and does not obey our commands. How can I help him to adjust with the new puppy? –Lila D’Souza, Mumbai

Dr. Rana : Whatever may be your reason to add another dog to the family, just be aware that it is a huge change for an older dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. Here are a few ways you can help make the process less stressful : With the puppy in your lap and your older dog on a leash held by someone else, let the older dog sniff, lick and explore the puppy. A couple of minutes is more than enough time for this initial introduction. Remove the puppy from the room, then lavish your older dog with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppy onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Remove the puppy from the room, and again, give your older dog praise and attention. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along. It’s not a good idea to leave your puppy alone with your older dog. There should always be someone there to supervise. When you talk to each of the dogs, use a happy, friendly tone of voice. Never talk to them in a way that is threatening. Reward good behaviour with treats and/or compliments of “good dog!”. Monitor their body language! Give your older dog some quiet time away from your puppy every once in a while. And be sure to give him lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced’.