Ask the Expert / Sep-Oct 2008

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: My Lab takes homemade food, please, do let me know, is this diet right and how can I train him? – Ayush Bissa, Jodhpur

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Our research indicated that most home made diets/baby foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate and do not meet recommended nutritional requirements. Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers like Pedigree come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort, and expertise. It is difficult even for an experienced breeder to prepare balanced diet for dogs. There is no need to feed any supplements like calcium or home diet while he is feeding on balanced food like Pedigree except clean fresh water. Therefore, continue feeding only recommended quantity of the prepared pet food.

Effective training should be a combination of information: what you want the dog to do; motivation: a reason for your dog to do it; and timing: when to reward a good action. Therefore, the most important thing in dog training is to reward good behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour.

Q: I have an eleven-year-old Labrador – Max, who does not respond to his name or commands. We think he is becoming hard of hearing. What tests can we get done to confirm, if he is going deaf or is there some other problem? – Suman Arora, Jhansi

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Dogs health problems related to advancing years are similar to our own. This might involve deficits in brain functioning, total or partial loss of hearing, eyesight, or sense of smell. Due to these changes, a senior dog may begin to appear to be ignoring commands, appear disorientated or have a reduced appetite. Early detection can help in disease prevention and can minimize suffering. If left undetected, many diseases can put your pet’s health at risk. The best approach to caring for your senior pet includes preventive diagnostics such as establishing baseline blood work, identifying existing health problems and monitoring progress during treatment. Visit your vet who will advise suitable tests for impaired hearing (BAER) and schedule regular health check-ups. Meanwhile, make sure that he is fed on suitable balanced diet that matches his age, dentition and energy requirement.

Q: My 3-year-old dog, Tipsy (Spitz) mated around the first week of June. She had three puppies on the 9th of August at home. All the three puppies did not survive. Could you tell us what possible reasons this could have happened? – Bijoy, Noida

Dr. K.G. Umesh: The failure to thrive in newborn puppies or neonates, known as fading puppy syndrome, can occur from birth to nine weeks of age. The causes of fading puppy syndrome can be broadly put into genetic, environmental or infectious agents groups. Hypothermia, herpes virus infection and maternal neglect resulting in poor nutrition are frequently reported causes. Affected neonates can decline quickly and die, so immediate detection and treatment are keys to survival. Therefore, always observe all the neonates’ behaviour and be on the lookout for key signs. Neonates or puppies that lie away from the group, cry constantly, are restless, or fail to nurse should be examined at once. Timely veterinary attention provides the best chances for saving these neonates’ lives. Because the exact causes of fading puppy syndrome are often not immediately apparent, your veterinarian will initially focus on supportive care and diagnostic evaluation. Your veterinarian will also ask about the dam’s ease of delivery, appetite, diet, vaccinations, mothering skills, and medications, etc that may help to prevent such problems next time.

Q: I have a Doberman who is one year old with an undescented testicle. Please, advise. – Kumaran, Mangalore

Dr. K. G. Umesh: Generally testes in dogs descent to final scrotal position by 2-4 months of age and may occur later in some dogs. The incomplete descent of one or both testes into the scrotum is called Cryptorchidism. This condition is believed to be inherited and is rarely associated with signs of illness. However, the risk of testicular cancer is thought to be approximately 10 times greater in affected dogs than in normal dogs. Castration is recommended practice before four years of age. Breeding of such dogs should be discouraged.