Ask the Expert / Sep-Oct 2007

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 : The hair of my five-month-old Dalmatian puppy is falling heavily. Please advise. – Ajay, Bangalore

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Hair loss/shedding is a common complaint in dogs with skin disorders due to number of causes. Unlike human beings, dog’s hair growth cycle is different and it does not grow continuously. Photoperiod (light intensity) is the main factor besides nutrition, genetics and health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and therefore, can be physiological. Stress, worms, harsh climate and general illness may also cause excess hair fall. Consult your vet for finding out the underlying cause(s) (like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection etc) and for suitable medications. If there is no underlying cause identified, try Primrose oil capsules (1 cap every evening) or sunflower oil/saffola oil/corn oil 2-4 tsp and Zinc capsules everyday in the food. This will improve his hair coat in the short term when underlying cause is identified.

Q : My three-year-old Labrador, named Bruno, had been bitten on the neck by a Golden Retriever while I had gone out of station. The wound was half inch deep. Bruno’s vaccinations are up to date. I want to know what injections can be given to him now? – Rupal, Pune

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Firstly, please call your vet for best chances of quick and uneventful healing. All bite wounds should be taken seriously and washed immediately with soap and water. If not treated promptly, infection may develop soon. For e.g. a puncture wound (without tearing off the flesh around it) is usually a small hole that closes quickly. This can be deceiving, as the bacteria and damage are “trapped” below the surface, which can lead to infection. Many animal bites, even if rabies vaccination or stitches are not required, should be treated with antibiotics. Consult your vet for postbite vaccination if your pet as well as the Golden Retriever’s anti-rabies vaccination is up to date. If your pet is bitten by an unknown pet or any animal whose rabies vaccination status is unknown, he should be captured/quarantined for observation. Your pet should also undergo postbite vaccination as per recommendations of your vet.

Q : How can I prevent my pet from maggots? – Deepika Prakash, Chennai

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Maggots are the larvae of flies. They lay eggs, which develop into larvae that need to eat. They generally get attracted to any animal that has skin infection, poor skin/matted hair, bad smell etc. The larvae, which look like white grub worms, only eat dead tissue, but they can be extremely painful and irritating to the pet. These conditions can appear and get worse within hours. It is important to find the cause of the initial maggot attraction (is your pet vomiting, have diarrhea, a wound, etc) and to prevent further maggot infestation. Very old, young, or compromised animals will be more at risk. Applying safe fly repellents like neem oil around the wound may also help. Consult your vet immediately, rather than wait.

Q : My 6.5-year-old female dog Honey is urinating very frequently. What problem would this indicate? – Debasis Roy, Kolkata

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Urinary problems are commonly seen in dogs and cats. Symptoms can range from “obviously sick” to very few signs seen, depending on the length and severity of infection. In addition to increased frequency of urination, if you see any additional signs like urination in inappropriate places, difficulty when urinating (straining), discoloured urine, strong and/or foul smelling urine, lethargy and fever, may indicate presence of urinary tract infection (UTI). Inappropriate and increased frequency of urinations may also be indicative of other diseases that commonly affect older dogs including kidney failure, diabetes and Cushing’s disease. Consult your vet for finding out the actual cause so that your dog can be treated appropriately. It is very important to properly treat these infections, not only for your dog’s comfort, but because untreated UTIs can lead to kidney failure or a chronic, recurrent infection.

Q : My dog Shadow is constipated. What can I do to relieve him from this discomfort? – R Dhaliwal, Ludhiana

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Factors associated with causing constipation include dietary, foreign bodies (e.g. feeding bones), neurological problems, growths, metabolic diseases and pelvic injuries, to name a few. In most cases, the cause can be identified on the basis of clinical signs that the dog is showing. However, in some cases, no obvious cause is identified. The initial treatment involves administration of enemas and correcting dehydration. Diets also help to manage constipation. Most manufactured diets like Pedigree have adequate level of fibers to form well-formed feces and thus prevent diet-associated constipation. If constipation recurs or becomes a long-term problem, then continuous treatment may be needed to prevent recurrence. There are a variety of preparations in the market and your vet will be best person to advise you on which is most suitable for your dog.