Ask the expert..Sep-Oct 06

Q?:?My 2-year-old Lab Bruno is suffering from a fungal infection on the right side of his body. He does not have hair on that side, we were applying an ointment and due to continuous application for almost an year, our vet says that maybe the hair follicles have destroyed and no hair is growing on that part. The surface has become dry and to moisten it, we were told to apply Cetraben moisturizing cream but there has been no effect. Recently our vet asked us to try out Ketoheal ointment. Please advise what we should do.
Rupal, Pune

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Hair loss (alopecia) is a common complaint in pets in our country and results from a number of causes, such as endocrine disorders, bacterial or fungal infection, allergies and parasites. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore hair loss. Your vet may run some test on skin or use lab tests. For e.g., fungal infection is easy to confirm with culture and can be controlled effectively with available medicines. Lastly, hair alone takes away approximately 30% of protein from the diet for its health. Hence, balanced and complete nutrition is most important for healthy skin and hair coat.

Q?:?My 4-year-old German Shepherd girl called Blacky has become overweight. We give her roti and milk, besides Pedigree (meat flavour). She is very choosy about food and we have to sometimes hand-feed her. Please help.
Preeti Shinde, Indore

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Dogs are meat-eating hunters by nature although they show considerable flexibility in their diet and in the wild, they may also eat plant materials, such as grass and berries. Although some dogs appear to be largely indiscriminate in their choice of food, others – especially dogs of the smallest breeds – can be fussy eaters. Dogs prefer meat to a cereal-based diet, although they may prefer one type, such as chicken, over another. They enjoy a wide range of tastes and are often partial to sweet foods, as well as foods with a salty or sharp taste. Most dogs will quite happily eat the same type of food every day. This is perfectly reasonable provided that it is a balanced diet and contains all the essential nutrients.

Dogs nearly always become overweight from eating more food than they need, and then not getting enough exercise. Calories in the food they eat, which aren’t used for daily activities, are stored as fat. Feeding home prepared diets such as roti contributes to excess energy and imbalance in nutrition while if your pet is fed with Pedigree, it is a complete diet. Feeding leftovers or giving frequent snacks or treats often contributes to the excess weight problem. Overeating may result from greediness, boredom, or overfeeding.

Weight loss for most dogs involves increased exercise, and eating food with fewer calories. It’s usually easier to feed normal amounts of a low-calorie diet than to feed much smaller amounts of a regular diet. Plus, your dog will not feel hungry. In addition, I suggest you to stop hand-feeding your pet. Your vet will set a target weight for your dog and can help with advice and special diets, but achieving success is up to you and other members of your family. Only you can ensure that your dog really does lose weight. It will take effort and commitment, but this is well worth it in terms of the quality of life, health and companionship your dog and you will enjoy.

Q?:?Whenever Doll, my 8-year-old mixed breed dog chews something hard, her gums start bleeding. What should I do?
Girish Patel, Ahmedabad

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. Signs include bad breath, inflamed gums, yellowed teeth and bleeding from the gums. Disease occurs in your dog’s mouth just as it would in yours. Plaque (made up of food particles, saliva minerals and bacteria) forms on the teeth. And as it builds up, the plaque grows brown and hard, turning into tartar. It is tartar that causes the gums to become inflamed and tender. Next, the gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that trap bacteria, which attack the roots of the teeth. Besides causing bad breath, these bacteria may loosen the teeth, cause bleeding at the gum line and make it painful for your dog to eat. In severe cases, the bacteria may enter the dog’s bloodstream and trigger infections in vital organs such as heart, liver, kidneys and lungs. Such infections can prove fatal. A vet can tell you how advanced the disease is, and provide the appropriate treatment. The starting point is often a thorough dental cleaning under general anaesthetic, when the vet will remove tartar and extract any teeth that are past saving. After this, it is you who will have to take responsibility for your dog’s dental health, which involves regular brushing and feeding dog chews like Pedigree Denta Rask.

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