Ask the expert..Jan-Feb 2006

Q?:?Jhoomer, my pup (2.5 months) is a Spitz, please do let me know the immediate and yearly vaccinations and deworming schedules. –?Sarita Kumar, Mumbai Dr. Umesh?:?Infectious diseases like Parvo, Rabies, Hepatitis and Distemper have been a significant cause of illness and death in dogs, especially young animals. Combined vaccination (all in one) against these and other diseases like Kennel cough, Leptospirosis etc has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. The vaccination will involve an initial course of injections followed by booster injections at various times throughout your dog’s life. These booster injections help maintain his immunity, but they also provide a good opportunity for your veterinarian to carry out a full health check up. Generally, first vaccination is recommended from the age of 6 weeks and booster at 3-4 weeks interval until 16-20 weeks of age. This is followed by annual vaccination.

De-worming is an important aspect of looking after your dog. You will need to de-worm her regularly every 2-4 weeks until 6 months of age. For most adult dogs, it is sufficient to de-worm routinely every 3 months. There are many safe, effective products available which will eliminate all kinds of internal worms. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a suitable schedule and the treatment.

Q?:?I want my German Shepherd puppy to have very strong bones. How can I meet his calcium requirements? Also my Golden Retriever recently had a very bad tick problem. Is it safe to keep the two dogs together ? –?Deepak Deshmukh, Pune Dr. Umesh?:?A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a puppy in order to prepare him for an active, long and healthy life. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced breeder/pet owner to get the nutritional balance just right. Growing large breed puppies like yours are prone to develop skeletal problems by either overfeeding or underfeeding energy or/and calcium. The best way is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start. The advantages of reputed commercially prepared foods are that they meet all dog’s nutritional requirements and they don’t require any food supplements including calcium. There are two main types of complete dog food: moist in cans or pouches and dry in packages. Both types can be made from meat, poultry, and/or grains, and provide balanced nutrition, with all the necessary nutrients including calcium. Your vet will advise right amount of calcium depending on what you feed. Successful control of ticks depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. Your veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for you. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Q?:?My dog Raja, a Great Dane, is 7 years old. Since last 10 days, I find him moving with difficulty. Their are no external signs of any injury on his leg. What do you think could be the possible reasons? –?Jayalakshmi, Chennai Dr. Umesh?:?Lameness or limping in senior large breeds like yours is common as a result of variety of skeletal, metabolic or degenerative diseases. It can affect joints, tendons or bones. This can also be the result of infection, malnutrition or trauma or it could simply be minor problem like “muscle pull.” Therefore, get him examined as early as possible. There are many safe medicines and physiotherapy available for management of joint or skeletal diseases in pets.

Q?:?I have a beautiful Cocker named Cocoa who is 11 years old. She has been bumping into a lot of objects, like furniture etc. Is she loosing her eyesight? What should we do? –?Vikram Chauhan, Gurgaon Dr. Umesh?:?Firstly, I suggest you to confirm with your vet whether she has developed blindness or some neurological problem. There are number of reasons including cataract (opacity of lens) for developing this clinical problem in a senior dog. Has this problem developed suddenly or over a period of time? Please take her to your vet who can help to find/rule-out underlying cause based on the onset of the problem, physical /neurological and eye examination. Based on the findings, he might also suggest further eye tests to confirm the cause. Sooner the visit, the better the chances of recovery.

Q?:?I have a 3-month-old Lab pup. She is having some problems over the skin. The skin is peeling off continuously. I have applied some medicines in consultation with doctor, but no improvement so far. Please help me.

S.P. Venugopalan

Dr. Umesh?:?Skin affections are very common in dogs. Ectoparasites like fleas, mites (mange), and bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) may account for majority of cases. 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. You need to follow strict hygiene rules to prevent your dog from getting parasites/germs. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment.