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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Ask the Expert : July Aug 12

Q: I am taking care of a dog who met with an accident in November 2011. He had a fracture in lumber region near pelvic girdle but now he is walking. He is suffering from ask the expertanal fistula and urine and stool problem. He is trying to pass stool and urine but in an uncontrolled way. He urinates while walking, sleeping, climbing steps, etc. But when he tries to urinate, he cannot. Please advice.
– Jaya Iyer, Nagpur

Dr KG Umesh: There is a possibility that your dog’s previous injury has resulted in progressive damage to disk material in the area surrounding the spinal cord and/or spinal cord/pelvic injury/inflammation. This may cause weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs and loss of bladder or bowel control depending on location and severity/nature of the damage. To confirm spinal disorder (also rule out other causes) and to determine the location of the lesion, your vet may run blood test, spinal fluid tap, radiographs, CT scan or MRI. Based on the diagnostic tests and neurologic assessment, your veterinarian will determine a prognosis, which is an anticipated outlook for recovery. Dogs vary tremendously in their ability to recover, and in many cases, the only way to know for sure whether recovery is possible is to proceed with treatment (including surgery, if necessary) and nursing care and observe any progress over the next two to six weeks. The spinal cord can take weeks or months to recover. You must be prepared for a long-term commitment if you choose to treat the injury. Perianal fistula is a severe, chronic disease of the area around the anus. Multiple draining tracts are present, which are deep fissures in the skin surrounding the anus. The anal sacs themselves are not involved. Many dogs are affected for no apparent reason. There are no preventative measures to guarantee that the problem never returns. There are medical or surgical options available to manage and cure this problem. Please contact your vet.

Q: My two-year-old male Pomeranian barks excessively, especially when I leave home, when the door bell rings, when the maid picks up the broom to sweep, when somebody new comes in, dogs, etc. Do let me know the reasons for his behaviour and how can I control it.
– Shikha Saxena, Jaipur

Dr KG Umesh: Reasons why your dog barks excessively can be complex and must be determined before you can begin fixing the behaviour. Those reasons vary from dog to dog, but include greeting, play, territory and self defense, sight of other animals, separation from family (anxiety), to get attention and a sudden loud noise. Try identifying what triggers the behaviour and use systematic desensitisation and counter-conditioning techniques. Unfortunately, pet parents often attempt to silence their dog by shouting at him, but because the dog’s communication skills don’t extend to understanding your language, he simply assumes the pet parents are barking too and continues undeterred, or even redoubles the effort. Other dogs discover barking makes their pet parent pay attention to them, if only to shout ‘Quiet!’

Eventually the dog may seem to develop an imagination, and bark at nothing at all, just to get a response from his pet parent. However, the main reason dogs learn to bark excessively at every person who passes their territory is the simple fact that most of those people go away again. The dog doesn’t realise they didn’t want to come in. He thinks he has successfully chased them off.

Some tips to control or reduce excessive barking include socialisation of your pet with other animals and people. Reward is, of course, the best motivation of behaviour, so it’s important to praise the dog while he’s doing the right thing, not afterwards. Exercise and play with your dog regularly. Try to increase non-vocal play (for example, fetch) and exercise. Counter-conditioning is an effective way to stop nuisance barking. That is, create a new, more desirable response to the stimulus, like playing with a chew toy rather than barking. If your dog is defending his territory, try blocking visual/hearing access to intruders on or near territory. Your dog might have anxiety related barking, if so, medication should be considered. Please consult your veterinarian regarding medications that may be useful for your situation. As always, we strongly recommend enrolling your dog in obedience classes. With the knowledge from the classes, teach them a ‘settle’ or ‘quiet’ command to use during desensitisation.

Q: I want to adopt a Great Dane. Please advice me about health problems to watch out for.
– R Kapoor, Mussoorie

Dr KG Umesh: The amount of time taken for a growing puppy to achieve adult bodyweight varies considerably, with larger breeds having a longer growth period (20-24 months) than smaller breeds. Excess feeding/energy and excessive calcium during this growth are associated with an increased incidence of skeletal defects like Hipdysplasia and Osteochondrosis. Great Dane is also susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus and dilated cardiomyopathy. Some of the problems may be inherited/congenital, which include atrioventricular valve dysplasia, Subaortic stenosis and Wobbler syndrome. Well, these problems should not discourage anyone to keep this most adorable breed as a family member.

Q: My dog Turbo, a Cocker, continuously scratches and injures himself. On checking, I saw black specks which seemed like flea dirt but could not spot the fleas. How should I manage this?
– Avinash Gulati, Indore

Dr KG Umesh: There are several causes of itching in dogs from infection to parasites. Flea bite allergy is a common cause of itching in pets. It occurs when a flea bites an animal who is allergic to proteins in the flea’s saliva. Non-allergic animals usually develop very mild itchiness at the site of a flea bite for only a brief time after the flea bite. However, animals with flea bite allergy can develop intense itchiness anywhere on the body (most common at lower back). Evidence of fleas consists of finding adult fleas, ‘flea dirt’ (brown-black specks that consist of flea excrement containing digested blood) and/or flea eggs (white specks) on the affected pet or other pets in the household. Animals with flea bite allergy often have only a few fleas or sometimes no fleas on them at all at the time of examination because the fleas are often dislodged as a result of the animal’s excessive scratching, chewing and licking of the skin. Treatment and prevention of flea bite allergy requires the elimination of fleas from the flea allergic pet, the pet’s immediate environment (yard, house), and other dogs and cats in the household with products that kill the adult flea (adulticide therapy) and prevent fleas from reproducing (insect growth regulators). Nowadays, oral or topical (applied to the skin) prescription anti-flea products are given to the pet at home once or twice a month and are very effective. Be sure to use the treatments exactly as prescribed; misuse, or using over-the-counter (nonprescription products) are common reasons for failure to eliminate fleas.

Q: I have a two-month-old Lab. What is the right age and method to neuter him?
– Ashok Rai, Mangalore

Dr KG Umesh: This has been an area of debate for several years. Associations between medical or behavioural conditions and early-age neutering ( 6 months). Today, many shelters and high-volume shelter clinics perform sterilisation surgeries in puppies as early as six to eight weeks of age. The most common surgical methods of contraception are spaying in female dogs or castration in male dogs. Spaying/castration is an irreversible means by which a dog is rendered sterile. The procedure entails complete removal of the uterus and ovaries in females and testicles in male. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what exactly is involved with the operation and also on the best time for it to be performed.

Ask the Expert : May June 12

Q: My 10-year-old Rottweiler Tarzan has developed a mole between his paws – it was ask the expertoperated two years back but now it has grown back again causing him pain. He has other moles on his body- but the one on his paw makes him limp. Please advice.
– Vinita Patel, Vadodara

Dr KG Umesh: Neoplastic or non-neoplastic disorders may cause growth between fingers in senior dogs. If the growth has come back, your vet may consider doing a biopsy that will be sent to a laboratory for analysis by a pathologist. This will help determine the type of growth, and whether or not it’s malignant/cancer. Bear in mind that not all growths are cancerous. Therefore I would suggest biopsy to identify the underlying cause. There are no specific preventive measures available for warts/moles.

Q: I have a German Shepherd named Radhe who is four months old but his ears are not standing properly. Also do advice me on the food to feed him and any tips for his care.
– Ayush Bissa, Jodhpur

Dr KG Umesh: If there are no signs of ear infection or deformity, 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. A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a puppy in order to prepare him for an active, long and healthy life. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start. The advantages of reputed commercially prepared foods are that they meet all a dog’s nutritional requirements and they don’t require any food supplements including calcium. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. It is recommended to have deworming and booster doses for all vaccinations including rabies.

Q: Just bought a three-month-old Labrador puppy. We stay close to forested area, the other day I noticed a leech on my puppy, was advised to rub salt and take it off. Do let me know if this is fine. How do I protect my puppy from such parasites? Please also give some inputs to prevent snake bite and first aid for the same.
– Abhinav Utpal, Mizoram

Dr KG Umesh: Most recommend is using a fingernail to break seal of oral sucker and some unapproved measures include use of flame, salt, soap, or alcohol, vinegar, lemon juice, insect repellent etc to detach. After removal or detachment, the wound should be cleaned with soap and water, and bandaged. Keep dogs on leashes and closely supervised when in known snake habitat. In areas of known snake abundance, snake avoidance classes can be offered to teach dogs to avoid contact with snakes. First aid measures to be avoided include ice, incision and suction, tourniquets and hot packs. The effects of snake venom are time dependent; any delay in initiating medical treatment is deleterious to the patient and may result in complications that cannot be corrected. Recommendations for first aid in the field are to keep the victim calm, keep the bite site or limb elevated or at heart level if possible, and transport the victim to a veterinary medical facility for primary medical intervention. The patient should be hospitalised and monitored closely for a minimum of eight hours for signs of envenomation.

Q: Sugar, my 11+ years old mixed Pom, is causing me concern. She sometimes shivers or trembles even in summers. Please help.
– Radhika Bhasin, Jammu

Dr KG Umesh: As well as cognitive and physical changes, it is not uncommon for pet parents to notice behavioural changes in their dogs as they age, such as changes in their food or bedding preferences or toilet or sleeping habits. Due to these changes, the care of elderly dogs may need to be adapted to take account their different needs. Shivering or trembling in a senior dog can be result of pain (mild slipped disk, pain in organs or joints, etc) or simply can be a sign of endocrine problem. Please take her to your vet to find underlying cause. Some senior pets undergo anxiety, signs include trembling, salivation, pacing, vocalisation, destructive behaviour, eliminations and escapism.

Q: My two-year-old Lab had a seizure wherein he collapsed and was drooling excessively. We stay close to our vet and so were able to rush him to the clinic. Please advice.
– Mrs Sinha, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: A seizure (also called a convulsion or a fit) is caused by excessive, disorganised electrical brain activity that is not consciously controllable. For example, epilepsy is one of many medical conditions that can cause seizures. There are numerous potential causes of seizures in dogs broadly grouped, the causes of seizures include problems that are confined to the brain (intracranial causes) and generalised problems affecting the whole body, for which the ‘weak link,’ or point through which the symptoms first manifest, is the brain (extracranial causes). Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical and neurological exam and take a complete medical history and ask information on your pet’s age when you noticed the first episode, the frequency of seizures, vaccination and medication history, nutrition, any potentially toxic substances in the household, and any traumatic events. Additionally, he may suggest blood and urine tests and radiographs if required. Occasionally, specialised, advanced radiology tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) of the skull may be required. A dog or cat diagnosed with a seizure disorder may require lifelong medication, depending on the actual underlying disorder causing the seizures. The goal of treatment is to find the cause of seizures and eliminate it. If a specific cause cannot be determined, oral anticonvulsant medication can be given to help reduce the number, frequency, and length of seizures. Seizures may continue to occur despite medication, and in these cases, recheck visits are important to make sure that the medication doses are adequate and if necessary, change medications. Therefore, with proper medical attention, a good quality of life is possible with many or most pets with seizures.

Ask the expert..| Mar Apr 2012

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: Please give me a feeding plan and quantity to feed a vegetarian diet to my five-month-old Boxer.
– Anirudh Paliwal, Hasetri

Dr KG Umesh: We all know that dogs are omnivorous, meaning they are capable of digesting and absorbing nutrients from plants as well as animals source. But it is important that the diet you feed your dog should be complete and balanced. No single ingredient/source of diet will provide all the nutrients and energy requirement of a dog. For example, cereals are rich in some vitamins but lack many nutrients required for a dog or puppy. Our research indicated that most home-made diets/foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate and it is difficult even for an experienced breeder/pet parent to prepare balanced diet for puppies or dogs at home. Therefore, consult your vet who will help you to design a balanced diet using safe ingredients (considering your pet’s body weight and condition). Other option is to feed the vegetarian complete pet food from a reputed manufacturer.

Q: My six-month-old Labrador loves to chew and keeps picking up small things and chasing. How do I ensure that he does not swallow any object?
– Padmini Ramesh, Nagpur

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. 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. Make sure the chew is large enough so that your dog can’t fit it completely into his mouth. When your puppy does any inappropriate behaviour, stop it immediately by telling the pup ‘No’ and distract his attention with a toy/chew. Puppies want to make their pet parents happy and you need to help them by your voice tone when they are being good. Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction and most importantly reward your dog with praise for chewing on appropriate items.

Q: We want to bring home a pup. Please advice how do I ensure that we get a healthy pup.
– Dr Pawan, Chandigarh

Dr KG Umesh: Dogs come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, all with different characters and temperaments. Consider your own environment and the characteristics of your chosen breed and try to match up the two. The best place to obtain a pedigree puppy is from a recognised and reputable breeder. You may find breeders through other pet parents, your veterinarian, advertisements in newspapers and dog magazines or by visiting dog shows. You may also find a dog through one of the breed rescue societies or you may know someone whose female-dog recently had a litter. The risk of disease and stress-induced illness is greater for a puppy if you buy from a dealer who has bought in puppies from several sources (puppy farms). It is always best to see the mother if you are buying a puppy so you can check that she is healthy and has a good temperament. Don’t buy a puppy which is less than six weeks of age. Show the puppy to your vet before you bring him home.

Q: Pia, my seven-year-old female Pomeranian, is suffering from jaundice. She is under vet care. Do advice what precautions to take so she does not get a relapse and determine that her liver is strong.
– Rita Arora, Ahmedabad

Dr KG Umesh: If you have medications recommended or prescribed, continue them until otherwise directed. Do not stop just because symptoms are subsiding or your dog seems better, since it is often the medication that is helping. If you notice persistent signs or symptoms, worsening of such symptoms if they were already present or new symptoms, your veterinarian should be aware of them. They may not all go away after starting treatment, but they should improve. Weakness, poor appetite, abnormal behaviour or mental dullness, bleeding of any kind, swelling of any kind, distended belly, difficulty in breathing, increased drinking/urination, vomiting, or excessive drooling are some of the signs or symptoms that can occur due to liver diseases. Routine follow-up will be determined by your veterinarian and frequent rechecks/blood tests and adjustments of medication may be necessary, depending on your pet’s specific symptoms and severity of disease. Your veterinarian can suggest a prescription diet (dry or canned) or can give you a list of suitable ingredients to create a balanced diet if you wish to make it yourself at home.

Q: Posto, my Bernard, has developed a lump on his elbow, which is making it difficult for him to sit. What should I do?
– Himanshu Bagga, Haldwani

Dr KG Umesh: Large breeds commonly develop a non-painful, fluid-filled swelling (Hygroma) under the skin that commonly develop on elbow joint. Generally they do not pose a problem for the dog unless infected. Periodical aspiration, inserting a drainage and surgical removal of hygroma are some of the treatment options. The hygroma in dog is believed to be caused by repeated trauma on the skin over bony prominences, particularly in large/heavy breeds lying on hard surfaces. Therefore, prevent further trauma on elbow by providing soft padding over the elbow and avoid hard surfaces. There are also commercial products (elbow caps) available for protecting the elbows and for dogs with hygromas. Ask your vet.