Ask the expert..Jan-Feb 2007

Q?:?My Golden Retreiver Angel has started vomiting – we feed her twice a day. Why is this happening and what can I do to stop this?

–?Rishi Sud, Ahmedabad Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Vomiting is only a clinical sign and not a disease. Vomiting, both acute and chronic, results from a number of causes. Most vomiting disorders are acute and reversible, requiring only supportive and symptomatic therapy. However, the vomiting patient often presents a challenge as it may be difficult to decide whether animal needs in-depth diagnostic evaluation or symptomatic treatment alone can resolve the problem. In contrast to acute problems, chronic ones are rarely self-limiting and it is usually essential to establish specific diagnosis and appropriate therapy. Q?:?Rani, my 3-year-old Pomeranian is always hungry. She eats thrice a day and still wants more. I cannot understand if we are feeding her less or she is over-eating. Please help.

–?Payal Malhotra, Amritsar Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?If she’s eating a lot, maybe she needs the food to fuel/match her activity level. Or it could just be that she’s bored. Or is she pregnant? Or has any signs of illness? Is she losing or gaining bodyweight? Some medical problems like diabetes or drugs may also cause this problem. Answer to some of these questions will help to find underlying cause for her voracious appetite. Contact your vet.

Q?:?Please provide a diet chart for my 3-month-old Labrador. Also, advise on a diet chart when he turns one.

–?Aman, Delhi Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?As the owner of a new puppy, you’ll want him to grow up fit and healthy, and reach his full genetic potential; all you have to do is provide your puppy with the correct diet right from the start. Homemade diets depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, and nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete. After all, weight for weight, a puppy needs up to two and a half times as many calories as an adult dog does. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced vet to get the nutritional balance just right. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start. Labrador breed may not reach his adult size until he is 12-14 months old. Therefore continue to feed him puppy products like Pedigree until this age. Feed him 3-5 times per day until 5 months of age and thereafter 2-3 times per day until 9 months of age. Adult dogs are generally fed once a day.

Q?:?Goofy, my 6-year-old Labrador has started passing gas. How do I take care of this problem?

–?Prerna Shinde, Pune Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Most of the gas that forms in the intestine comes from air swallowed during eating or through panting. Some gases are formed from bacterial fermentation of poorly digested carbohydrate or fibre in the colon. Also, malodorous gas may be generated by metabolic disturbances in the breakdown of food components. While it’s a natural part of your dog’s digestive process, the tendency to pass gas increases as your dog ages. There are a number of ways to decrease your dog’s intestinal gas: Check your dog food label. Many dog foods contain soy, which can be hard to digest. Cut out table scraps. Exercise not only helps move intestinal gas, it may also simulate bowel movements. Raise your dog’s food dish. Elevating your dog’s dish means he’s not bending his neck down as far, which can lead to swallowing too much air. Therapy is directed toward reducing the carbohydrate content of the diet, reducing gas surface-active tension, reducing intestinal bacterial colonisation, and improving gut motility. The combination of Yucca schidigera, Zinc acetate or charcoal may help to reduce malodor of flatus in dogs, as shown in a study at Waltham.

Q?:?Do advise me on the exercise needs of my 4-month-old Dane puppy. Also, let me know if I need to give him supplements like calcium and vitamins for the growth and development of his body.

–?Swami, Coimbatore Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?All dogs need and usually love their daily exercise. The amount your dog needs will depend not only on his size, but also on his breed. Bear in mind that some smaller breeds such as Jack Russell Terriers can have lots of energy, whereas some larger breeds such as Great Danes and St. Bernard’s are not always as energetic. Don’t make the mistake of over-exercising your dog if he’s still growing, because his bones aren’t yet strong enough to cope with the extra stress. Little and often is the rule until your dog grows to full strength. Remember that large breeds mature later than small breeds. Ask your vet for advice. Never supplement calcium or vitamins while he is fed on balanced and complete prepared foods like Pedigree. Overzealous use of calcium and feeding excessive energy is the most common problem for large breed puppies to develop hip and skeletal problems.