Ask the expert… Mar-Apr 2014

Q: I have a St Bernard pup who is five months old and refuses to go for a walk. Please advice the exercise, food and supplement needs for a St Bernard.
– Balraj, Jabalpur
Dr KG Umesh: A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a dog in order to prepare him for an active, longKG umesh (3) copy and healthy life. Giant breeds like St Bernard take longer time to mature and generally become adult by age of 20-24 months. It is necessary to keep a puppy from gaining weight too quickly and becoming fat to avoid bone and joint problems. Puppies are fed 2-4 small meals per day to accommodate in their tiny stomachs. There is no need to add home food while he is feeding on a balanced pet food and clean fresh water. Overfeeding and excess calcium may result in skeletal or joint problems in the later part of the growing puppy’s life. I would suggest feeding ‘large breed puppy’ diets specifically designed for giant breeds, that are available in veterinary clinics and pet shops. In their first few months, puppies will get all the exercise they need from their naturally energetic play in the house, so you don’t need to give them any extra exercise. Limiting formal walks and training in the first 10 to 12 months of life will also help. They may need a 20 to 30 minutes jog every morning or a shorter walk combined with controlled training games. Repeat the workout later in the day.
Q: Rustam, my five-year-old Labrador, keeps wagging and knocking off objects. The tail area is swollen–the area also seems to hurt him, please help.
– Rohini Kapur, Meerut
Dr KG Umesh: Swelling in tail may result from injury, inflammation or infections of skin or bones. Get him examined by your vet before it worsens with movement of tail. You can try bandaging the swollen area to keep the tail immobile and until you take him to the vet.
Q: My 10 years old GSD is overweight, how do I reduce the weight?
– Rajat Singh, Patiala
Dr KG Umesh: Obesity is the most common canine nutritional disease in dogs. If you feed your dog a prepared pet food, the label on the package will provide a guideline as to how much to feed daily. These recommendations are a guideline only and you should make adjustments according to your dog’s individual needs. Senior dogs need approximately 20 percent less energy than adult dogs. Don’t forget to take into account the calories in treats and other tidbits he eats—they shouldn’t make up more than 10 percent of his daily calorie intake. Try to exercise your dog as much as he is able. The more muscle he maintains, the more calories he’ll burn and less fat he’ll carry. Not only that, when you fill his time with fun activities, he’ll spend less time hanging around the food bowl. This increased activity won’t just benefit your dog; it will benefit you as well. Instruct family members and visitors not to give your dog any treats or table scraps. Don’t give your dog one heaping bowl of food that he can eat whenever he wants. Instead, give him 2-4 small measured meals a day so you can regulate his portions. Start keeping a record of your dog’s weight. If possible, weigh him once a week. Keep lots of clean, fresh water available. Finally, be sure to take your dog to your veterinarian for a checkup and expert advice. Your vet may give you guidelines on exercise appropriate for your dog’s age and health as well as specific advice on how much he should be eating. He can also check for, and treat, any weight-related problems.
Q: Chulbul is a two years old Lhasa who has dark tear stains. We clean his eyes with cotton – but the stains don’t go. Do advice if we can apply eye drops and how do we clean the tear stains?
– K Malik, Nasik
Dr KG Umesh: Chronic tearing (causing streak and staining of hairs) in dogs is often the result of breed related conformational abnormalities. Shallow orbits and prominent globes with tight-fitting lids and small lacrimal lakes, inflammation of lacrimal apparatus, obstruction of nasolacrimal duct (drain tears to nostrils), any irritation or pain due to eye or eyelid diseases can cause an overflow of tears from the conjunctival sac. Conditions that lead to excessive lacrimation should be ruled out before congenital or acquired dysfunction of the lacrimal drainage system is diagnosed. Your vet runs tests to evaluate nasolacrimal drainage system patency. Determination of the cause is essential before treatment can be instituted and requires a mechanistic approach at first. Treatment is aimed at correcting the primary problem such as lubricant therapy for dry eye, or canthoplasty surgery for lagophthalmos and exposure, allowing more effective distribution of tears.
Q: I have two children (aged seven and ten years) and Pumkin is our seven months old Labrador who keeps jumping over them. How do I teach Pumkin not to jump on my children?
– Mrinalini, Chattarpur
Dr KG Umesh: Pumpkin has a very friendly behaviour of wanting to greet people when he sees them. The tricky part is teaching him that it is good to greet people, but not by jumping up. He may have been rewarded for jumping up as a puppy, whether this was intentional or not, he has learnt that this is an acceptable way to greet. Shouting at him after he has already jumped will just confuse him as he has already performed the action. The best method to try and stop the dog from jumping is to try and retrain him, and it is always easier to start at home. If he jumps up to greet kids when they enter the house, just ignore him and give him no attention. Wait until he has all four paws on the ground. Wait for him to sit. If he doesn’t sit, tempt him with a small treat to sit and then praise him. Crouching to greet the dog should automatically stop him from jumping as kids are at his level, but wait until he is sitting and before kids do this. Teach the children to fold their arms, stand still and shout ‘off’ whilst showing the dog no eye contact. The dog will soon get bored as the child is not interested enough. Once you have established a good routine at home, you can start introducing him to other people. Some advise squeezing the paws (until it is uncomfortable for the dog) every time he jumps. Lastly, obedience classes will also be beneficial to him, as there will be general advice for all types of training and modification.

Ask the expert… | Jan-Feb 2014

Dr K G 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Chang, our Pekinese, has a rash on the paw – he has been licking and biting it – pus had collected with bleeding. We took him to his vet who removed the pus and cleaned it, the infection has gone deep in his paw. Please do explain.
– Anisha & Ayesha, New Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: Pododermatitis refers to skin disease involving the feet (paws). Bacterial infections are frequently involved, although a variety of conditions may be underlying causes. For example, allergies and parsites can predispose pets to a variety of skin diseases, including pododermatitis. Embedded hairs or other foreign bodies (plant awns, splinters, thorns) can cause pododermatitis with nodules or draining tracts in the feet. Since several different disorders can cause the same symptoms in pododermatitis, your veterinarian may recommend tests (skin scrape, culture, biopsy) to find out the underlying cause. Treatment is aimed at correcting or avoiding any underlying conditions and at treating any infection present. Antibiotics given for several weeks are necessary to control bacterial infection. Disinfecting the feet can help healing, and soaking the feet daily in an antiseptic solution is also recommended. Some allergy or immune mediated cases may require corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs.
Is it safe for pets to travel? At times I don’t understand what my pet wants and what he wants us to do and say. How do I cope with this?
– Varun Vickraman, Bengaluru
Dr KG Umesh: I assume your query is related to travelling by road. Travelling for any good reason are best when you have your family with you and when your pet is as much a part of your family. Proper planning can make the travel experience better and less stressful for you and your pet. If your pet is not accustomed to car travel, take him for a few short rides before your trip. Help your new dog learn to rest calmly in a crate. This is an essential skill for dogs during travel, boarding and other situations. Take advice from your vet if your pet suffers any travel sickness. Stick to your regular feeding routine and give the main meal at the end of the day or when you reach your destination. Feeding dry food will be more convenient. Give small portions of food and water and plan to stop every two hours for exercise. Pets should not be allowed to ride with his head outside car window. Best never to leave your pet unattended in the car. When travelling by car, pack a simple pet first-aid kit that includes assorted bandages, antiseptic cream and an anti-diarrhoeal medication that is safe for pets.
Lulu has got surgery in one eye for cataract but she’s still cannot see from that eye. Need information on cataract.     
– Esther Adiappa, Guwahati
Dr KG Umesh: Cataracts are common in dogs and some dog breeds are prone to hereditary cataracts. The most common cause of cataracts is heredity, where the likelihood of developing cataracts at some point in life is transmitted genetically. Other causes include diseases such as diabetes or can be a result of inflammation of the inside of the eye, called uveitis. With cataracts, black pupil normally looks cloudy or white in bright light. A similar but less serious condition that resembles cataracts is called ‘nuclear sclerosis’. This is a normal, older-age-related haziness of the lens. Nuclear sclerosis rarely compromises vision, is very common as dogs age, and progresses (worsens) much more slowly than true cataracts. The process that leads to cataract formation is irreversible. Therefore, no medication exists that can clear cataracts and the treatment of choice is removal of the cataract from within the eye with surgery. Treatment and outlook for other types of cataracts depend upon the cause. Surgery can involve removal of the cataract intact or the use of phacoemulsification, a process whereby ultrasonic waves are delivered within the eye to dissolve the cataract-containing lens, and the dissolved fragments are removed during surgery. Intraocular lenses, which are synthetic lenses that replace the lens removed with the cataract, can be implanted at the time of cataract removal for better near-field vision. Phaco surgery facilities are available in cities like Bengaluru, Chennai or Mumbai. Speak to your vet.
We are moving overseas. Our dog is an eight years old German Pointer and has been with us since she was a puppy. To get to where we are going she will have to be in her cage for at least 35 hours. Also, the climate will be very different and it will be very expensive to fly her. My questions are: Will our dog feel deserted if we leave her in a good home? How important is it for a dog to stay with their original pet parents? Appreciate your advice.
– Yair Kohn
Dr KG Umesh: Since your dog has become a true family member, it would be great moving with the family! Dogs are highly adaptable. It’s quite possible to meet a dog’s needs and live happily together in a home very different from the home you shared before. Use the crate to help the dog through any adjustment period, such as the separation anxiety that can occur temporarily in a new place. Moving with your dog can greatly enrich your life and make transitions less stressful for you. Give special treats in the crate, provide comfy bedding if the dog is old enough to refrain from chewing it, and keep the crate in a place the dog likes to be. Discuss with your vet on giving him a tranquiliser before boarding the flight, which has pros and cons. It’s safest for the dog to travel with you rather than being separately shipped. Contact your veterinarian and the authorities involved so that you can get the required health checks and certificates, make the necessary reservations, and arrange for every step of the dog’s safe journey. For your pet’s comfort, air travel on an almost empty stomach is usually recommended. The carrying container (transport crate) should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for the animal to move around, safe and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily refillable containers for a long journey. After you move in to new house, your pet will need to sniff around the new house and yard in much the same way the humans will explore it with their eyes and hands.
My dog has been coughing. He also takes out white foamy like substance.  Please advice if these are symptoms of kennel cough.
– Kusum Biswas, Kolkata
Dr KG Umesh: Dogs can develop cough for several reasons and cough is merely a sign of an underlying problem anywhere in wind pipe, food pipe, lungs or left heart failure. The kennel cough is generally caused by various combinations of bacteria and viruses and in pets under stress living in unhygienic conditions.  Kennel cough is typically seasonal and respond very well to medications. The dry cough is also associated with another common condition is collapsing trachea which is frequent in toy and small breeds. This condition has non-productive (dry) cough. The cough is often described as a ‘goose honk’ because of it characteristic sound and the cough typically can be triggered by excitement, anxiety, exercise, eating and/or drinking, becoming overheated, and mild pulling on the collar. Most cases of cough respond favourably to rest and medications. These medications include sedatives; drugs that widen the air passages; expectorants, which break up the mucus in the lungs; and anti-tussives to relieve the coughing. Antibiotics may help if a bacterial infection is complicating problem. Kennel cough can be prevented by annual vaccination. Cough due to other causes like heart failure or tracheal collapse may require lab tests, imaging and bronchoscopy to confirm and initiate suitable medical management. Surgical intervention may be indicated with tracheal collapse and for tumours involving the respiratory system.

Ask the expert… | Nov Dec 13

Q: Goofi, my Lab pup, who is now 45 days old, was born without a tail. Can you advice why this happened? 31
–Vidhu Singh, Mhow (Indore)

Dr KG Umesh: What about his siblings? Collect his family history if available. It is likely to be a congenital or inherited problem. Check with your vet for presence of any physical or skeletal abnormality.

Q: The ears of my five-month-old GSD are not standing. Her sister who is the same age does not have this problem. Also, my Pug is suffering from a runny nose. Please do help.
–Nishi, Lucknow

Dr KG Umesh: If there are no signs of ear infection, this can be considered ‘normal’ and many a time they become erect as ear cartilage becomes tough. Wait and watch until he grows to an adult (14-16 months of age).
Running nose, like fever, is merely a symptom of a disease. Dogs can have nasal discharge for a variety of reasons including irritation from allergies, change in climate, inhaled gases and foreign bodies. Discharge can also result from inflammation of the upper or lower airways. Fever and purulent discharge is common with some infections like distemper or pneumonia. Likewise, if discharge develops in one nostril, you should also consider growths or tumours as one of the causes. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is get him examined as early as possible. Your vet is the right person to decide what test to be done immediately. Your vet might prescribe few medicines to suppress discharge symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q: I want to keep a small breed as I have two kids aged three and seven years. Do advise a breed. Also, I want to make the dog sleep in the children’s room. Is this fine?
–Manisha Sinha, Ranchi

Dr KG Umesh: You have variety of small breeds to choose for companionship. Long-haired dogs like Yorkshire Terrier or Lhasa Apso can be very attractive, but they need regular grooming to keep their coat clean and in good condition. The coats of smooth-haired dogs like Dachshund or Pug need less attention and are more manageable in wet weather. Male dogs tend to be larger than females of the same breed and may be a little more extrovert. Some people think that female dogs are more affectionate and home-loving and may be better with children, but remember they come into season twice a year as part of their reproductive cycle, unless you are prepared to have her neutered. Jack Russell Terriers, Shih Tzu and Pomeranian are also equally good companion pets. There are number of diseases that are transmitted from pets to humans by scratch, bite, contact with discharges, faecal contamination, direct contact, etc. However, most cases of human infections can be prevented by practising good personal hygiene, eliminating parasites through regular deworming, vaccination and providing clean environment for them. Follow normal hygiene precautions about keeping dogs. Wash or change bedding frequently. Dispose excreta properly. Do not allow pets to lick children’s faces. Discourage kids sharing bed with pets. Lastly, keep pet animals healthy, have any signs of illness diagnosed and treated promptly by your vet and take your pets for regular medical check-up.

Q: Bingo is a 10 months old Labrador who keeps licking the wall. Do let us know how to stop this habit.
–Gandharva, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Puppies investigate their environment by sniffing, tasting and perhaps chewing or licking on objects as part of normal behaviour. In some cases, chewing might be an attention seeking behaviour even if it yields negative attention or results in chasing or scolding. Anxiety, conflict or high-arousal situations may result in destruction and chewing of the pet parent’s possessions and perhaps attempts to escape by chewing windows, doors, or the area in which the dog is confined. The dog may chew to escape or roam because of inadequate exercise, stimulation or environmental enrichment. Repetitive chewing that is difficult to distract or redirect might be a compulsive disorder. Begin treatment by redirecting chewing/licking to suitable and appealing alternatives – provide sufficient play and exercise, and prevent access to areas where the dog might lick. Give the puppy a choice of chew toys to determine which ones he finds most appealing. Lastly, you can try applying the wall with bitter substance to discourage licking. Although this behaviour is unlikely to be associated with any nutritional deficiency, make sure that he is fed on a reputed commercial well-balanced puppy food.

Q: I noticed blood like particles in my dog’s urine. He is a seven years old Dalmatian. He is drinking more water and
I also noticed an increase in the frequency and volume of urine. Please help.
–Vibhor Sharma, Jallandhar

Dr KG Umesh: If your pet is drinking and urinating more than normal, it can be a diagnostic challenge because of long list of causes. Excessive drinking and urination exist concurrently, with determination as to which is the primary problem being one of the major diagnostic challenges. In addition to increased frequency of urination, if you see any additional signs like urination in inappropriate places, difficulty when urinating, discoloured urine, strong and/or foul smelling urine, lethargy and fever, it may indicate presence of urinary tract infection (UTI). Dalmatians are prone to develop urinary stones and can predispose him to develop urinary tract infection. Excessive thirst and increased frequency of urination may also be indicative of other diseases that commonly affect older dogs including kidney failure, diabetes and Cushing’s Disease.
It’s important for your vet to determine what is causing these symptoms so that your dog can be treated appropriately. Depending on examination findings, your vet may recommend blood, urine, radiograph and ultrasonography to uncover the cause. Stones in urinary tract can be managed with conventional surgical procedures or lithotripsy and can be managed with medications and diet to prevent recurrence.

(Dr K G 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.)

Ask the expert… | Sep Oct 13

Dr K G 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: I have two dogs – Pomeranian and Labrador (mix), both male and eight years old. They are fully vaccinated and dewormed. My Pomeranian started scratching and there were red spots and also hair loss which spread. With the help of a veterinarian and medicines, he got relief for some days but the problem is back. Please help.
– Rajesh Udai, Ajmer

Dr KG Umesh: Skin problems are common in dogs as their skin is thin and the barrier function is poor, compared to man or other animals. Any dog with chronic or recurring skin disease must be subjected to investigations like skin scraping or blood tests to find the underlying cause. Proper nutrition particularly zinc, fats and vitamins can help to strengthen skin barrier function. Therefore continue only commercially prepared food that meets all your pet’s nutritional requirements and your pet won’t need any food supplements. My approach would be to find underlying cause(s) for scratching (like fleas, mange, allergy, bacterial or yeast infection, etc) and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications.

Q: My dog has developed a rash on her right front paw which she keeps biting – so it has become like a minor wound. I have been applying Betadine and my vet advised to put an Elizabethan collar, which she does not wear. The wound is not healing. Please advice.
– Apurva, Hyderabad

Dr KG Umesh: Allergies, parasites, bacterial, fungal or yeast infections are common causes of rashes developing on paws of dogs. If the rash has not responded to treatment, your vet may advise few lab tests to find underlying cause. Self-mutilation and Acral Lick Dermatitis (caused by boredom or behavioural problems) are also frequent causes. Elizabethan collars are helpful in such cases. Your vet may prescribe topical creams that help to relieve itching sensation and promote healing.

Q: I have two female Golden Retrievers – they have their heat cycles – approximately within a week of each other. Currently both are three years old. One of the dogs missed her 3rd cycle – but when the other was having the 4th one – she (the one who missed the 3rd) had her cycle. Is it normal for cycle to be delayed?
– Joy Fernandes, Bengaluru

Dr KG Umesh: Oestrus/heat cycle lasts about three weeks. The first signs of heat are usually a swollen vulva and a blood-stained discharge. On average, this will continue for about nine days, this is the period of pro-oestrus. This stage is followed by a period of oestrus when the vulva will be very enlarged and the discharge will appear straw-coloured rather than blood-stained. During oestrus, male dogs will be attracted to the female dogs. Many a time these signs may go unnoticed or absent. Most female dogs, if not mated, will come into season approximately every 6-9 months, although very large breeds of dogs may cycle anything up to once in 15 months. Consult your vet if she continues to miss her cycles or shows any abnormal vulvar discharge or signs.

Q: My four-month-old Lhasa Apso while playing jumped from my bed about one week back. Since then he has gradually stopped playing and now even he walks very less. He keeps lying down in his bed or floor and when he walks, at times, he limps with his front right foot. When I spoke to my vet regarding the problem, he has prescribed me Melonex Oral. Is the medicine ok for him? What should I do? Also, advise on the dietary needs of dogs?
– Samrat Dey, Mangaldai, Assam

Dr KG Umesh: Please take him to your vet for complete physical examination to rule out any serious injuries. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs like Melonex will control pain or inflammation but may not remove the underlying cause. These drugs must be given under your vet’s supervision as they cause serious adverse effects in puppies when you exceed dose or duration. Manufactured dry pet foods not only provide complete nutrition and are also cheaper compared to home prepared diet. Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep them fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life (puppy and adult) and foods which deliver additional health benefits (small breed puppy and adult). Please remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort and expertise. There is no need to feed any tonics/calcium or home diet while he is feeding on a balanced food except clean fresh water.

Q: Éclair – my one and a half year old Lab – eats his food very fast and then throws up. I feed him three times a day. We feed home-cooked meals and dry dog food. What should I do?
– Ishani Rai, Chennai

Dr KG Umesh: Most Labradors have ravenous appetite and this greedy eating sometimes causes in-coordination in movement of ingested food from mouth to stomach through food pipe. This allows food to accumulate in food pipe, to be expelled through the mouth. Frequent small meals may help to prevent this normal regurgitation. Some dogs tend to eat food fast for the fear of competition. Please make sure that he is comfortable and has safe environment while eating his meals. Just like us, adult dogs need a balanced diet which contains just the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, many different vitamins and minerals to ensure that they stay in peak condition and maintain optimal health. Unless properly formulated by a nutritionist or a vet, diets made at home are not likely to be nutritionally complete and balanced. Prepared pet foods from reputed pet food manufacturers come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Therefore continue feeding only recommended quantity of the prepared pet food.

 

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Ask the expert… | July Aug 13

Dr K G 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: I’ve a female Boxer who is one and a half years old. She has been scratching her neck and thighs a lot.ask the expert What should I do?
– Ranvir Grewal, Sangrur

Dr KG Umesh: Many disease conditions of the skin cause itching in pets, and often allergies are a common cause of itching—pets can be allergic to substances in the environment, such as inhaled pollen and dust (called atopy), to food, or to parasites. Bites of parasites such as fleas, mites, lice, ticks, and flies can be responsible for itching. Skin infections due to bacteria, ringworm fungus, or yeast commonly cause itching, and secondary infections are a common additional cause for greater itching in pets with allergies, fleas, and other primary skin disorders. Less commonly, certain immune-mediated diseases, boredom and anxiety and some skin tumours may stimulate itching. Because so many different skin problems can cause itching, diagnostic tests from simple skin scrapings to biopsy are used for determining the cause of itching. Treatment is extremely variable, since itching is the only symptom of the problem. Therefore, the medications and other treatment strategies chosen depend entirely upon the underlying cause of the itching and should be discussed with your veterinarian. Balanced and complete nutrition is most important for healthy skin and hair coat.

Q: My eight-year-old Dalmatian seems to be losing balance and seems wobbly. Do advice.
– Ajeet Banerjee, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: Weakness or wobbly gait in pets may be caused by problems in musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. While problems in any of these systems can produce gait abnormalities, neurological or orthopaedic pathologies are the main causes of lameness and abnormal movement in dogs. Your vet may localise the problem based on physical examination finding and he may suggest lab work, radiograph, etc to find the underlying cause.

Q: My dog is limping and his paw pads seem swollen. Please advice.
– Brijesh, Thane

Dr KG Umesh: Pododermatitis refers to skin disease involving the feet (paws). Bacterial infections are frequently involved, although a variety of conditions may be underlying causes. For example, allergies can predispose pets to a variety of skin diseases, including Pododermatitis. Embedded hairs or other foreign bodies (plant awns, splinters, thorns, etc.) can cause Pododermatitis with nodules or draining tracts in the feet. Several parasites, most notably Demodex mange mites and hookworm larvae, can cause skin irritation and secondary bacterial infection of the feet. Contact with irritants such as chemicals or trauma can also be a triggering factor. Treatment is aimed at correcting or avoiding any underlying conditions and at treating any infection present. Moisturising and disinfecting the feet can help healing, and soaking the feet daily in a dilute, purpose-made antiseptic solution is also recommended. Please get him examined by your vet ASAP.

Q: Rover, my GSD, is having hair loss and is excessively chewing his paws. His genital area also seems red and itchy. Our vet is saying it is a skin infection. Do help.
– R Chawla, Ahmedabad

Dr KG Umesh: Dogs shed hair due to their unique hair growth cycle and seasonal hair shedding. For example, Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics, health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and is physiological/normal. Dogs also may shed excessive hair because of stress, harsh climate and general illness. If the degree of shedding appears abnormal, or if he has signs of serious skin problems or fleas, consult your veterinarian.

Medical conditions such as thyroid disease or skin allergies can also cause excessive shedding. Itching of paws and genital area are common signs of allergic diseases. Some tips to prevent or reduce hair shedding include keeping skin and hair coat healthy by regular brushing, bath and feeding balanced food which is rich in nutrients like zinc, fatty acids and high quality proteins.

Q: I have a five-year-old Labrador, who is on dog food. She has never been fussy about food but lately is eating very less. In fact she is not having her dog food and we have to feed her chapatis like a little child and boiled boneless chicken/liver. She has lost weight and is not so active and bright. Please help.
– Payal, Chittoor

Dr KG Umesh: There are number of reasons for your pet to behave like this. For example, she may have fear for new food, previous bad experience with the food, poor palatability or simply, she may be a fussy eater. Some dogs may refuse food/skip meals, when they have consumed more energy than they would require (which is common in our experience). Please make sure that you are not overfeeding her and monitor her body weight at least every two weeks.

If she continues to refuse food, contact your vet and discuss whether there may be medical cause(s) for this and in some instances, blood work may be required to find the underlying cause.

Ask the expert… | May June 13

Dr K G Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been aask the expert 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: Muffin is in the initial stages of her pregnancy but her rabies vaccine is due. Is it safe to give it now?
–Meena Singh, Jalandhar

Dr KG Umesh: Administration of modified live vaccines is not recommended during pregnancy. Routine vaccinations should be current or done prior to breeding. A puppy’s early immunity is dependent upon consumption of colostrum containing high levels of antibodies and, therefore, dependent on the female dog’s immune status. Killed vaccines like rabies may be given during high risk situations

Q: My six-month-old Dalmatian pup is suffering from ticks. Please advice.
–Varun Kapoor, Ajmer

Dr KG Umesh: A generalised tick life cycle consists of egg, larva, nymph and adult. The tick feeds once in each stage before maturing to the next stage. Ticks lay their eggs (as many as 18,000 in some species) in sheltered areas on or near the ground. Successful control of ticks depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. To control ticks or fleas on a dog, all animals in the household must be part of the flea/ticks control programme. There are two basic categories of ticks control products: Adulticides and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)/Insect Development Inhibitors (IDIs). It is always best to treat the dog and the environment on the same day. The use of these insecticides must be preceded by a thorough vacuuming; special attention should be paid to the areas under furniture, carpets, near pet bedding and along moldings. Make sure that other pets/dogs he frequently contacts/visits are free from fleas and ticks. The veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Q: I have two dogs – Sasha (female GSD – five years) and Sandy (male Lab – four months). Sasha sleeps through the day and is lazy. Sandy does not like to go for his walks and we have to coax him with treats- it takes almost 10 minutes to motivate him, once out he is always looking back and wants to go home. Please advice.
–Ankush Jain, Shimla

Dr KG Umesh: Dogs, too, can become complacent and lazy when it comes to fitness. If your dog hasn’t done much exercise in the past, it’s best to start off slowly. In fact, before you get your dog started on any exercise programme, you should take him to the vet first for a thorough check-up to rule out any medical causes. Start off with 10-15 minutes a day of walking to allow your dog to build up his cardiovascular and muscle strength. Eventually, you can work up to an hour a day – again, if it’s appropriate to him. Exercise to their abilities, not yours. In the summer time, opt for an early morning or evening workout when the sun and heat are less intense. Give them some fresh, cool water again once you get back home. Puppies generally sleep 12-18 hours a day. Poor socialisation or interaction, fear or shyness or even a previous bad experience may de-motivate puppies to play or walk.

Q: Hero, my three-year-old Dachshund, is fully house trained. Last two weeks, he has been eliminating in the house. Please help.
–Kiran, Gurgaon

Dr KG Umesh: As there are so many causes of house soiling, it is best to seek veterinary advice to determine the true cause of the problem. It is not unusual for dogs to have an occasional accident in the house. If this behaviour is occurring on regular occasions, there can be a number of reasons as to why. If the dog has soiled in the house, it may be that his access to his usual toilet area has been blocked off. There are many medical problems that can cause signs of incontinence. Some causes of incontinence can be due to urinary infection or bladder stones. The other possibility for your dog house soiling is if there is an underlying behavioural cause, such as, submissive urination, stress, a breakdown in toilet training, territorial marking or separation anxiety. Once again, these behaviour problems can be modified effectively. If your dog has house soiled, it is important that the affected area is cleaned promptly using a biological washing powder in warm water. If it is not cleaned effectively, he may mark that spot on repeated occasions.

Q: Joey, my Basset, loves to jump on the sofa or bed. He is four years old. More recently, I have noticed him being uncomfortable while jumping, his hind legs seem to quiver. Do advice.
–R Kumar, Trichy

Dr KG Umesh: Shivering or tremours in hind legs in large breeds is common as a result of variety of skeletal, metabolic, neuromuscular or degenerative diseases. It can affect joints, muscles, tendons or bones. This can also be the result of infection or trauma. It could be simply minor problem like ‘muscle pull’. Therefore, get him examined as early as possible.

Ask the expert… | March April 13

Dr K G 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 ‘bestKG umesh

teacher’ award in the year 2000. He is a member of European Society for Vet Dermatology and is currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My dog is often coughing. The vet is saying he has allergy and has given anti-allergic medicine, cough syrup and a tablet. But it’s not yet cured and recurred recently. What’s the cure?
– Rahul Chakraborty, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: Recurring or long-standing cough in a dog can be due to chronic bronchitis or airway collapse; however, diseases such as infections, heart disease and other chest diseases must be considered. Appropriate management of cough requires confirmation of disease and exclusion of other causes of cough. Tracheal collapse is a common cause of acute or chronic cough and respiratory distress in dog and is seen most often in toy and small breed dogs. Dogs with airway collapse generally have a chronic honking (goose honking) or seal bark cough that is paroxysmal in nature. Coughing is often triggered by eating, excitement, exertion, or pulling on the leash. Your vet may advise radiography, ECG, echo, fluoroscopy or bronchoscopy in addition to some blood tests. Medical therapy for animals with airway collapse includes management of obesity and concurrent medical conditions as well as control of infectious or inflammatory airway disease. Dogs who fail to respond to aggressive medical therapy may require treatment surgically or stents in case of tracheal collapse.

Q: We live in an apartment and have two kids aged 10 and 6, wanting to adopt a pup. Can you advice on a suitable breed?
– Jai Raina, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: One of the most important aspects to ensure a happy relationship between you, your family and your dog is to ensure that your dog’s requirements can be matched by your lifestyle and environment. The size of your house and more importantly, the availability of open spaces nearby for exercise will influence the type of dog you should choose. Small breeds like Boston Terriers, Pugs, Spaniels and Dachshunds, etc may be better suited if space is limited. The initial cost of your puppy must certainly be taken into account, but be aware that other costs continue for the rest of his life. The daily cost of feeding, veterinary visits, kenneling during holidays and regular grooming sessions for certain breeds. Preventive health (vaccinations, de-worming) and practicing good hygiene will keep away most of transmissible diseases.

Q: My Pug is two and a half years old and vaccinated. His nails on the paws are very sharp and he keeps prancing and in his zest, someone or the other always gets scratched by his sharp nails. Also when someone gets hurt, scratched – what do we do? Does the person require a tetanus injection?
– Malini, Jamnagar

Dr KG Umesh: Unlike cats, there are no serious diseases that are transmitted by a dog scratch. However, pet nails contaminated with harmful bugs can result in some infection in humans. Try to minimise your chances of getting scratched: Avoid rough play and other activities with pet who could lead to biting and scratching. Keep your dog’s claws trimmed. If you do get scratched or bitten, wash promptly with soap and water. Practice good hygiene at home. Generally, there is no need to get tetanus shots.

Q: I have a 45-day-old Rottweiler puppy, under process for KCI Registration. Please advice on his food and vaccination?
– Girish Chougala, Gokak

Dr KG Umesh: A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a dog in order to prepare him for an active, long and healthy life. Therefore, accurate feeding and the provision of all nutrients at optimal level are essential to maximise puppies’ genetic potential to grow. There are many commercial pet foods for puppy as well as specifically for ‘large breed puppy’ available from the reputed manufacturers. Giant breeds have longer growth period than small breeds and therefore, continue feeding puppy food until 22-24 months of age. Your vet will advise vaccination schedule (DHLPPi + Corona and Rabies) every 2-3 weeks, ideally starting at 6 weeks of age until 20 weeks of puppy age and then followed by annual boosters

Q: My Golden Cocker is 10 years old. Under her right eye, there is a small lump/extra growth. It gives the appearance of a small human mole. What should we do?
– Manish, Bikaner

Dr KG Umesh: Warts or benign growths are common in senior pets. However, any growth/lump in a senior pet requires immediate medical attention. Your vet will decide suitable action depending on place and nature of growth.

Ask the expert… | Jan Feb 13

Dr K G Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia. Q. My dog Mumtaz, a seven-year-old Spitz, has been diagnosed with diabetes. She is on dog food; we also give her roti and curd. Please do advice food and medical care to be taken. – T Raghav, Coimbatore

Dr KG Umesh: Dogs generally develop type I diabetes which typically requires lifelong insulin injections. The goal of treating a diabetic animal is to minimise blood glucose fluctuations, eliminate the symptoms associated with high blood glucose levels (excessive drinking, urination and appetite), and improve the quality of the pet’s life. The most important factor in a diabetic animal’s life is routine. You have to follow instructions meticulously given on medications and diet. As in diabetic people, a good daily routine of eating and exercising for diabetic pets will help prevent irregular fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Diets that are high in simple carbohydrates (sugars), which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, are avoided. Diets containing complex carbohydrates and fibre are preferable, in moderation. There are several different commercial prescription diets available that can meet the needs of all diabetic patients. Achieving and maintaining an ideal body weight is helpful in the treatment of both type I and type II diabetes mellitus. Once your pet has started any treatment for diabetes mellitus, monitoring for signs of low sugar levels (hypoglycemia) is also very important. Too much insulin/low sugar levels can cause disorientation, sluggishness, seizures, coma, and even death, if prolonged. If you notice that your pet seems disorientated or weak but is still responsive, offer food immediately. If your pet is unconscious (cannot be awoken despite loud calling and shaking), apply a sugary solution like corn syrup or maple syrup to the gums. In both of these cases, contact your veterinarian. Likewise, watch for general signs of illness, which can include changes in appetite, weight loss, decrease in activity, sluggishness, dull or poorly kept coat, and changes in behaviour such as hiding and aggressiveness.

Q. What are the main dog vaccines to give and what is their frequency in the life span of a dog? Do any of the vaccines have any side effects which can be harmful? – Karuna Sabharwal, Bareilly

Dr KG Umesh: In the past, infectious diseases, such as those caused by parvovirus and distemper virus, have been significant cause of illness and death in dogs, especially young animals. Vaccination against these and other diseases like hepatitis, influenza, leptospirosis (all in one) has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. It is important to discuss a suitable vaccination programme including rabies and coronavirus with your local veterinarian. The vaccination will involve an initial course of injections (usually at six weeks of age), followed by booster injections at various times (every 2-3 weeks) until 20 weeks of age and then every year 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.

Q. Guddu, my GSD pup, is chewing everything in the house. Please help. – Karan Shukla, Agra

Dr KG Umesh: It is normal for puppies to be ‘mouthie’. Most chewing behaviour is seen in young puppies due to their strong desire to explore. As dogs mature, this desire decreases and they are less likely to be destructive. The dog will find it hard to distinguish between what it can and cannot chew; therefore having their own toys will help define suitable chewing items. There are many suitable toys for dogs and choose toys which have been manufactured using high-quality molded materials to increase durability. If the puppy does try to bite, command ‘NO’, and distract his attention with a toy. Many of these habits can be modified quite easily if done correctly and persistently. When the pup stops the bad behaviour, make sure you reward the pup with ‘GOOD (puppy’s name)!’ Prevent access to unacceptable chew items. Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction.

Q: My 11-year-old Dalmatian named Silky has lost two front teeth. What do I do? – Madhu Ghosh, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: Just like people, they need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. Tartar accumulates, and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red, and swell. At this point, without medical intervention, gingivitis or inflammation of the gum takes over. This process leads to bad breath. And worse, it often leads to damage of jawbones, and loss of teeth. Please consult your vet if your pet has lost teeth due to trauma or any other disease.

You can lightly brush Silky’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque deposits. A child’s nylon toothbrush dipped in a toothpaste made for dogs should be used. Do not use toothpaste made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs, if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews (Dentastix) result in a significant reduction of plaque and calculus accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog foods also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.

Q. I have adopted two St Bernards – Tipsy (female, three months) and Turvy (male, four months). I have adopted them from different breeders – need your advice how to bring two dogs up. Also, I will like to mate them, so when is the right time to do so? – Harpreet, Ludhiana

Dr KG Umesh: Pet parenting a dog is a big responsibility and giving your dog the best care and attention can help to improve the quality and length of your dog’s life. Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life and foods which deliver additional health benefits. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. May be one of the most important aspects to ensure a happy relationship between you, your family and your dog is to ensure that your dog’s requirements can be matched by your lifestyle and environment. Most vets recommend mating after first ‘heat’ or few months after they become adults. St Bernars are considered puppy until age of 24 months.

Ask the expert… | Oct Nov 12

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My dog loves to chew grass. Is it normal? How should I stop this habit?
– Sahana Sharan, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Contrary to the common perception that grass eating is associated with observable signs of illness and vomiting, one study found that grass eating is a common behaviour in normal dogs unrelated to illness and that dogs do not regularly vomit afterward. Vomiting seems to be incidental too, rather than caused by plant eating. It is not uncommon for dogs to eat grass and is generally un-harmful to the dog providing the grass has not been chemically treated. The dog will often vomit the chewed grass with frothy saliva, not long after eating it. One suggestion for dogs doing this is to relieve an excess of digestive juices that accumulate in the stomach when it is empty. Some dogs will graze on fine grass and may even digest it to provide roughage in the diet. It is important that dog’s main diet is nutritionally balanced and the correct amount of food is being fed for the dog’s life stage. If the grass eating is accompanied by prolonged or persistent vomiting, and particularly if the vomitus contains blood, veterinary advice should be sought.

Q: My dog is one year old and has developed Wobblers Syndrome. Please suggest treatment.
– Karthik, Bengaluru

Dr KG Umesh: Cervical Stenotic Myelopathy (CSM) or Wobbler Syndrome or Cervical Malformation describes a syndrome of compression of the cervical spinal cord as a result of degenerative changes in the spine in neck region. Clinical signs include progressive incordination, weakness in all limbs and, sometimes, neck pain. Signs in the hind limbs are more severe than the front limbs. CT scan or MRI is required to diagnose these cases. It is recommended that dogs with neurological deficits are treated surgically, as this is a chronic progressive disease. Dogs who are non-ambulatory may respond to conservative management but surgery is strongly recommended. Conservative management includes treatment of pain with anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants, and restriction of unmonitored activity combined with controlled exercise and physical therapy. Acupuncture can be useful for controlling chronic pain in some dogs.

Q: My pet Lafro is suffering from megaesophagus – she cannot chew food, she can only swallow food, so we have to give her liquid food only. What can be done- and how do we manage this condition in the long run?
– Ekta Kapoor, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: In animals, like in people, the esophagus is the tube that carries swallowed food from the mouth down into the stomach. Megaesophagus is a disorder characterised by decreased movement and dilation or distension of the esophagus. As a result, food does not pass from the mouth to the stomach appropriately and can sit in the esophagus or be brought back up through the throat and out the mouth (regurgitation). Pets with megaesophagus are at greater risk for developing pneumonia (lung infection), since food and liquids sitting in the esophagus or being regurgitated can be accidentally inhaled into the lungs (aspiration pneumonitis). The goals of treating an animal with megaesophagus are to eliminate the cause when possible, minimise the frequency of regurgitation, prevent overdistention of the esophagus, maintain a good level of nutrition and body condition, prevent or rapidly identify and treat complications, such as aspiration pneumonia, and improve the overall quality of the pet’s life. Food and water should be maintained in an elevated position (by placing food and water bowls on a table or stepstool) so that gravity can help move food through the esophagus, toward the stomach. Ideally animals are held in a sitting, upright position for as much as 10 to 15 minutes after eating or drinking, to help food and water flow down into the stomach. Some patients will require the placement of a temporary or permanent feeding tube in order to maintain an adequate level of nutrition. This tube allows for food and water to be administered directly into the stomach or intestines. Megaesophagus is a potentially serious and sometimes even life-threatening illness. The prognosis varies dramatically with the underlying cause of the disease, the presence of secondary complications.

Q: My German Shepherd puppy is having runny nose and not eating well. He is not active and seems to be lazy. Please do advice.
– Vipin Rana, Patna

Dr KG Umesh: Any puppy showing respiratory signs with poor appetite require immediate medical attention. The underlying cause could be serious viral infections like distemper in unvaccinated puppies to simple allergies. Please take him to your vet ASAP.

Q: Nawab – my Golden Cocker – has frequent ear problems. He keeps shaking and scratching his ears and sometimes there is a brown smelly discharge. We tie a loose band or ribbon when we give him food. Do help.
– Meghna, Pathankot

Dr KG Umesh: Otitis externa is inflammation of the outer ear canal. In pets with otitis externa, the skin that lines the outer ear often becomes red, itchy and painful. Pus, waxy material, and other debris can accumulate. Otitis externa can cause head shaking, scratching and rubbing, a foul odour, abnormal behaviour or even irritability, and hearing loss in long-term situations. There are many underlying causes that include allergies, parasites and endocrine disorders. Some pets like spaniels are predisposed which have narrower than normal ear canals and long, hanging (floppy) ears. Debris can accumulate more easily in these ears, creating an environment in which organisms (bacteria, yeast, fungi) can thrive and trigger intense inflammation. The treatment for otitis externa requires controlling the inflammation and then treating the underlying cause of the problem, if the cause can be determined. Depending on the cause, treatment of otitis externa can be nothing more than matter of placing medication in your pet’s ears and performing regular cleanings, or it can involve a long-term commitment to treating recurrent problems. Keeping your pet’s ears clean is important because it helps prevent an environment in the ears that promotes inflammation. Your vet can show you how to properly do this and which ear cleaning products are safe to use with your pet.

Ask the expert… | Sep -Oct 12

Dr K G Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My German Shepherd who is five years old seems to be passing gas/fart, as sometimes there is a stinky stench around him. He is on home cooked food. Do advice what do I do.
– Kishore Jain, Haldwani

Dr KG 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 fiber 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. German Shepherds are also prone to develop digestive disturbances because of their sensitive stomach. There are a number of ways you can help decrease your dog’s intestinal gas. Check your dog food ingredients like soy or poor carbohydrates which can be hard to digest. Feed reputed commercial dry food which are digestible and meet all his nutritional requirements. 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. Ask your vet for help.

Q: We have two Labradors – four and seven years old. How can I crate train them for a flight?
– Shivani Puri, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Before making your booking, make sure the airline does not have any restrictions that will inhibit you from traveling with your pets. Make sure you visit a vet before traveling and make sure your pets are as fit and healthy as possible to withstand the journey. Give them a light meal about two hours before they travel. Let your pets ‘try out’ the carrying container before the trip. Give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet before putting them in their carrying container. If the pets look very anxious/nervous, your vet may advise mild sedatives/travel sickness pills that help them to settle comfortably during travel. The carrying container (Transport Crate) should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for the animals to move around, safe and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily refillable containers for a long journey. It is advisable to have a leak proof bottom in the crate that is covered with plenty of absorbent material. Put a familiar-smelling cushion or rug in the container to help your pets settle.

Q: Symphony, my three-year-old Dachshund, is shedding a lot. I see some hair loss around his eyes and snout. There are two patches on his body too. Please help.
– David, Kalimpong

Dr KG Umesh: Dogs have unique hair growth cycle and seasonal hair shedding. Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics or health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and is physiological/normal. Dogs may also shed excessive hair because of stress, harsh climate and general illness. If the degree of shedding appears abnormal or associated with rashes, itching or any signs of serious skin problems or fleas, consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions such as thyroid disease or skin allergies can cause excessive shedding. Some tips to prevent or reduce hair shedding include daily brushing or at least two good brushings per week, regular bathing with a rich oatmeal or moisturising shampoo (do not use human shampoo or soap) and feeding a high quality diet: a diet that is rich in fatty acids, minerals like zinc and digestible proteins to keep your dog’s coat strong and healthy, and help decrease excessive shedding.

Q: The saliva of my dog seems a little thick and has some traces of red. She is salivating more. We feed her dog food- but now she has become fussy and likes only soft food- we are making rice and dal with chicken broth (with no bones). Please help.
– Swati Mahesh, Chennai

Dr KG Umesh: Your pet may be suffering from oral disease involving gums/teeth or inflammation in mouth. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. Tartar accumulates, and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red, and swell (Gingitivitis). This may cause pain while chewing solid food. First take her to your vet for examination of her mouth to rule out any other problems and he may suggest dental scaling if she has bad tartar/plaque. Following this, you can lightly brush the dog’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque deposits. A child’s nylon toothbrush dipped in toothpaste made for dogs should be used. Do not use tooth pastes made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews (Dentastix) help in reducing tartar accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog food may also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.

Q: My nine months old Labrador loves to eat and tries to gobble a lot of things- which are non food items. While walking him I have noticed certain small objects, such as a toothpaste cap in his stool. How do we deal with this habit of his?
– Anubhav Chandra, Jaipur

Dr KG Umesh: It is normal for puppies to be ‘mouthie’. Most of such behaviour is seen in young puppies due to their strong desire to explore. As dogs mature, this desire decreases and they are less likely to be destructive. This type of behaviour may start after a change in the dog’s routine or as a result of boredom. The dog will find it hard to distinguish between what it can and cannot chew, therefore having their own toys will help define suitable chewing items. Provide chew toys that do not resemble in appearance or texture of unacceptable chew items. For example, a plush toy may be similar to a pillow, child’s stuffed animal or chair cushion. Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction. Prevent access to unacceptable chew items. Reward your dog with praise for chewing on appropriate items. A well-trained dog makes everyone happy, including his pet parent.

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