Ask the Expert:Nov-Dec 2005

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 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?:?Jackie, my two-year-old male German Dachshund dog has developed fungal infection on his ears. The itch is so strong and irresistible that he keeps shaking his ears very violently. This causes blood to ooze from his ears’ corner. At present, I am applying “Wokazole lotion” after cleaning the ears with hydrogen peroxide solution.  But it is not helping. Please advise what to do?
–?A.K. Prasad, Bina Project

Dr. Umesh?:?Otitis externa or inflammation of outer ear canal is common in dogs. Many factors can cause or contribute to the development of this ear problem in dogs. Parasites, foreign bodies, allergies, etc can be a cause. Likewise ear structure (for e.g., floppy ears), errors in cleaning ears/medications predispose dog to develop this ear problem. Recognition of underlying cause and treatment of all the factors contributing to the ear infection are the key to successful clinical management. Hydrogen peroxide may not be suitable for cleaning all types of ear infections and sometimes can aggravate the problem. Do not use cotton tipped applicators to clean ears! Depending on severity and duration of ear infection, your vet may perform variety of tests from examination of discharge to radiography. Therefore, I suggest taking him to your vet as early as possible to find underlying cause and appropriate cleaning and medication protocol.

Q?:?I have a five-year-old Pomeranian Jimmy who has suddenly lost appetite after my 10-year-old German Shepherd – Hero, died. Jimmy refuses to eat anything and has lost 2 kg weight. What should I do?
–?Sonakshi Verma, Lucknow

Dr. Umesh?:?What he requires immediately is your company to replace Hero, keeping him occupied, may help to overcome this problem. Physical activity like walking or exercise will also help him become more relaxed and comfortable in his surroundings. Identify situations and environments that Jimmy will need to be comfortable with and help him gradually to live without his lost friend. Acquiring another companion puppy/dog is not a bad idea if it is suitable to your home. Jimmy will require visit to the vet if he continues to refuse food and lose body weight.

Q?:?My pet’s name is Tin Tin. We will soon become parents. What precautions should the “would be parents” take during pregnancy period and after the birth of the baby? Also, Tin Tin is losing a lot of hair and salivates profusely? Apart from this, we are also very concerned about the difference the birth of the baby will make to Tin Tin as our attention would be divided. How should we handle this?
–?Hitarth, Baroda

Dr. Umesh?:?Hair do not grow continuously in dogs but rather in cycles (Mosaic pattern). Photo period is main factor besides nutrition, genetics, health that can cause dogs to shed hair excessively during some seasons and can be physiological. Dog hair can be a problem only to those who have developed allergy to it. Some diseases found in dogs can be transferred to humans, so it is essential to insist on strict hygiene rules for the entire family. Because young children/baby may not fully understand the importance of personal hygiene, the pet that has not yet been toilet trained poses a health risk for children crawling around. They can put their hands in dog faeces, and pick up certain skin infections or roundworm eggs from the floor or ground. Young children are likely to have less resistance than adults and can pick up a mild or serious type illness. Likewise, saliva from infected dogs might transmit certain infections to susceptible babies.

Discourage kissing or excessive licking. Therefore regular vaccination, deworming and health check-up of Tin Tin is extremely important and you need to follow strict hygiene rules to prevent your dog from passing on germs and diseases to children.

When baby arrives: With the baby in your lap and your pet on a leash held by someone else, let Tin Tin sniff, lick and explore the baby. A couple of minutes are more than enough time for this initial introduction, then lavish Tin Tin with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along. It’s not a good idea to leave your baby alone. Monitor Tin Tin’s body language! Reward good behaviour with treats and compliments of “good dog!” And sure to give him lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced’.

Q?:?My Dalmatian Spotty, who is four-year-old, jogs with me for 45 minutes every day. Recently I noticed he has started panting more than he used to. What is a safe amount of time to jog with my dog?
–?R Subramanian, Chennai

Dr. Umesh?:?Dogs, too, can become complacen­­t and lazy when it comes to fitness. Before you start your dog on any new exercise routine, make sure you get the ‘all clear’ from your veterinarian first (joint, lungs, heart etc). Not all dogs are built for speed or endurance. Also note that dogs with short snouts like Pugs and Bulldogs aren’t able to breathe as efficiently as dogs with longer snouts, so you’ll have to count them out of too vigorous activities. Since your dog is only too eager to please you, he’ll try and keep up with you even if he’s too tired or in pain. You’ll need to keep a close watch for any signs of fatigue or discomfort like heavy panting or limping. If you see that your dog is struggling, stop and take a break. If you think he’s okay to continue, proceed at a slower pace. Otherwise, head back home and give your dog a break for a couple of days before you work out again. Exercising your dog in extreme heat puts your dog at risk for dehydration or heat exhaustion. In the summer time, opt for an early morning or evening workout when the sun and heat are less intense.

Dogs are a lot more vulnerable to heat exhaustion since they are only able to sweat through panting and the pads of their feet. Be sure to schedule regular stops every 20 minutes or so and give your dog a chance to top up his fluids. Give him some fresh, cool water again once you get back home.