by, Pedigree

Ask the Expert/Nov-Dec 2004

Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.

Dr. 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 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: Why do dogs sleep so much? What is the maximum number of hours should a dog sleep in a day? Do they sleep because they are bored?
– Sheetal Desai, Mumbai

Dr. Rana: The amount of sleep that an animal needs depends upon its age, size, activity level and breed of dog. Some very large breeds of dogs, like Saint Bernards, Mastiffs, often spend a great deal of their lives sleeping,perhaps up to sixteen or even eighteen hours a day. For this reason, they were often referred to as “mat dogs”. Great Danes probably only dream about sleeping! Comparatively smaller breeds like Apsos, Dachshunds , Jack Russel Terriers etc need less sleep .

Q: My 1.5 yrs GSD Sam eats his stool everyday. Please advice how to get rid of this habit?
-Shashidhar K, Bangalore

Dr. Umesh: Coprophagia, or eating of faeces, is very common in dogs, and is often seen in puppies. It is not dangerous to the dog’s health, but can be unpleasant habit to live with. Treating the problem can be simple and involves thinking ahead.

Any faeces deposited in the garden should be removed as quickly as possible. A dietary imbalance or parasites can on occasions cause coprophagy. Make sure that your dog is receiving complete and balanced food and dewormed regularly. Coprophagy can transmit parasites also.

One method of training is to walk your dog on an extending leash and purposely direct him towards some stools. As soon as he stoops to try to eat faeces, pull away the dog gently and effectively and at the same time, unpleasant distracting noise such as “NO” should be sounded and immediately after this, make him sit and praise for compliance with kind words and physical contact. The dog should not be punished as he will not associate the punishment with the action. This type of exposure should be repeated several times.

I suggest Professional training if it is associated with behavioural problem. Some advise products containing (or spraying) pepper or mustard on faeces are ethically questionable and feeding a slice of pineapple or peppermint oil may work in some dogs.

Q: I have a Golden Labrador male of age 5 years named Duke. He has frequent ear problems. Once you pick his ears, a foul smell comes. How do I take care of his ears on a regular basis?
– Nidhi Malhotra, Delhi

Dr. Rana: Duke appears to be suffering from an ear condition called Otitis Externa and he needs to be taken care of seriously before it gets chronic and make him very uncomfortable. Otitis Externa may be caused by organisms, foreign substances, or neoplasia entering the external ear canal, the middle ear and the eustachian tube. Water in the ear canal during bathing or swimming may be an important cause. Proliferation of bacterial organisms in the external ear canal can cause the animal great discomfort and predispose to Otitis media and Otitis Externa. Please consult your vet who will examine the ear and probably do a culture of the ear swab so as to find the causative organism. Daily or periodic cleaning of ear canals with normal saline or ceruminolytics in my opinion would be quiet helpful in the longer run.

Q: My 7 year doggie, a spitz – Joomki, has put on weight. I feed her twice a day. She has a bowl full of chicken stock with vegetables either with rice or roti in the morning and the evening. She also has her treats- biscuits and chew sticks. Her vet tells me that she is much over weight. How do I make her loose weight? Please help.
-Mrs Mukherjee, Kolkata

Dr. Umesh: What you have to remember is that the diet you feed your dog should be complete and balanced. This means, the balanced diet will meet all her required nutrients and energy demand, regardless of her life stage or life style. Home made diets, depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete.

If your dog is overweight, it will affect her life in many ways. She will be less likely to want to go out for a walk and exercise. Obese dogs are also prone to develop health problems like arthritis, heart problems, diabetes, etc.

As with people, any diet should ensure that any weight loss is in a steady manner, ensuring that dog does not become deficient in any nutrients and is not hungry. The best person to speak to is your vet, who will advise appropriate food and amount. A target weight should be set for your dog and in order for your dog to reach her ultimate target weight, she must be initially targeted to lose 15% of her current body weight. If more weight needs to be lost, then next target should be further 15% reduction and so on until his ideal weight has been achieved.

Your dog will also need to increase her exercise. Please contact your vet for further details including correct diet.

Q: My dog has wet streaks under his eyes. Are those tears?
-Jhanvi, Delhi
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Dr. Umesh: Epiphora is the term used to describe the overflow of tears, which is normal in some breeds of dogs but can be due to blocked tear ducts. The tear duct can become blocked for a number of reasons, such as infection, a foreign body or a hereditary defect. Your vet will be able to perform a simple test to determine if there is a tear drainage problem with the eye.

Tears are produced to lubricate the eyeball and keep it clean, and then are drained through the tear duct. If this is blocked, the tears build up and will tend to run down the cheeks of the dog, and this can result in rust coloured tear streak. The colour occurs from an antibacterial enzyme called lysozyme, which is normally present in body fluids such as tears and saliva.