Ask the Experts.. | Jan Feb 2012

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: I have a nine-week-old Labrador puppy and we are planning to buy a male mate for her. How would I introduce her to her new mate? Will it be okay to bring one at this age? What and how much should she eat?
– Aayushi Shah, Ahmedabad

Dr KG Umesh: Whatever your reasons you decided to add another puppy to the family, just be aware that bringing in a new puppy is a huge change for another dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. However, both being very young puppies, they can get along very quickly. With the puppy in your lap and your another puppy held by someone else, let the older puppy sniff, lick and explore the new puppy. A couple of minutes are more than enough time for this initial introduction. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppies onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Make sure that you give your older puppy praise and attention. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along. Puppies nutritional requirements are almost twice that of an adult dog and are different from human. A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a puppy. Therefore, accurate feeding and the provision of all nutrients (reputed complete puppy food like Pedigree) to maximize puppies genetic potential to grow is required. Puppies are fed 2-4 small meals per day and please follow the instructions given on pet food label or ask your vet.

Q: How do I housetrain my two and a half months old Pug pup and what are the first basic commands? Also, how do we go about the vaccination and deworming?
– Tej Bindra, Jammu

Dr KG Umesh: It is essential that you start the socialisation and training programme as soon as you acquire your puppy. Much of the early socialisation/training can be done in your home and you can take him out following his complete vaccination. If your dog is properly trained to ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’, he’ll be less likely to have behavioral issues with people because his first concern will be to obey your commands. A dog who’s under control and knows you are the leader of his ‘pack’ will behave and, if your dog is socialised properly, he’ll be comfortable around strangers and in new situations. Your best ally in the prevention of health problems is your veterinarian. Typically vaccination is done at the age of six weeks or later and your vet may advise 2-3 booster doses until 20 weeks of age. Deworming recommended once in 2-3 weeks until six months of age.

Q: My dog’s nails have become long – how do I cut them?
– Mahima Gorani, Thane

Dr KG Umesh: Excessively long toenails will actually cause pain and may deform a dog’s feet. There is a nerve and a blood vessel in the nails. Watching your vet perform the task will let you know if your dog already has issues about toenail trimming. Even if the dog seems fine with it, consider waiting until you have had time to get used to each other before you try toenail trimming on your own. There are many safe nail clippers available and your vet will recommend the right one for your pet. In the meantime, you need to have a professional do it if your dog might bite you out of fear.

Q: My dog has been straining while passing faeces. This problem has been reoccurring. Please help.
– Gopal, Amritsar

Dr KG Umesh: There are number of reasons for a dog to develop straining or difficulty to pass faeces. Constipation is not a disease but condition that can be caused by many factors and diseases. Insufficient dietary fibre and water deprivation can cause constipation. Constipation can also result from consumption of bones and foreign materials. Environmental factors that affect an animal’s daily routine such as hospitalisation or lack of exercise can lead to constipation. Other common causes of constipation include aging, rectal or anal or pelvic problems, growths in large bowel and surrounding structures, certain drugs, metabolic and endocrine diseases. Therefore your vet can help to identify and treat the underlying disorder and he may also advise enemas, laxatives and high-fibre dietary products for some cases.

Q: My veterinarian has advised me not to neuter my five months old GSD Jack. I do not want to breed him. Please advise.
– M Shukla, Mathura

Dr KG Umesh: Early-age neutering is viewed as an important step in reducing the number of unwanted litters of puppies. Neutering a male dog also help to reduce some forms of aggressions and may prevent roaming and fighting. Long-term outcomes in a study found that early neutering offers more benefits than risks for male dogs. Some males can still be as aggressive if neutered but not well trained. Weight gain can be avoided if exercise is encouraged.

Ask the Expert.. | Nov Dec 2011

Q: How can we clean the ears of our dog? I saw my dad using hydrogen peroxide once, but he stopped using it as he said it may have some side effects on dogs.
– Mridhul Jain, Ludhiana

Dr KG Umesh: Knowledge of ear canal anatomy is helpful for cleaning. Cleaning ask the experttechniques generally focus on the external ear canal, which comprises vertical and horizontal canals. The canal is generally two cm in length and varies from five to ten mm in diameter, depending on breed and size. There are many components that make up ear cleansers, which can be classified according to how the chemicals perform in the ear canal: detergents, organic acids and alkalizers, etc. In addition, alcohol components are included in many products. Hydrogen peroxide must not be used for cleaning healthy ears. Ear cleaning products may also be used after swimming or bathing to prevent swimmer’s ear and are useful in a maintenance ear programme to keep infections from recurring. It is important that vet demonstrates the proper cleaning technique to you. You will be advised to fill the ear canals with a cleaner and massage the ears for at least one minute prior to letting the dog shake his head. The external ear canal is then gently wiped with a cotton ball (never use ear buds). The frequency of use of the ear cleaner will depend on the individual. Ask your vet for a suitable ear cleaner for your pet.

Q: We want to adopt a stray pup who lives outside our home. I need advice on how to take care of him.
– Medha Prakash, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: A crossbred or mongrel puppy can be very appealing but he may be something of a mystery in terms of adult size and temperament, especially if you can’t judge the parents. Changing homes and leaving his mother is stressful for a puppy. It could cause an upset stomach. If this happens, take him off solid food for two meals, and just give him small quantities of water to drink. Then, gradually introduce boiled rice and scrambled eggs over 24 hours, before you reintroduce his normal puppy food again. If, however, the diarrhoea or vomiting continues for more than 24 hours, or becomes more severe, phone your vet. Once your puppy has settled in, you’ll likely want to change his diet to reputed brands of puppy food. Make sure you replace the original food with the new puppy food gradually, over a period of three to five days. Make sure that he has a comfortable bed and placing a covered warm water bottle in the bed will help him as this will feel like snuggling up to his mum.

When you leave your pup home alone, your puppy may feel separation anxiety from you as well as from mum. Leaving a radio playing quietly or a soft light may also make him feel more settled. You could try putting a cloth or something else that smells of you in his bed too. Socialising your puppy is very important and a worthwhile investment into your and your puppy’s future, as you are laying the foundation for the dog’s behaviour later on in life, and prevention is much better than cure. It is essential that your puppy is fully comfortable to be with people and children, other pets, tolerating motorbikes and cars, TV and washing machine – to name just a few.

Puppies love to chew. Generally, they chew to entertain themselves, because they’re teething/love to explore your home or if they’re a little bored and want to expend some energy. Toys and chews not only help prevent chewing behaviour but also help to train him to become more confident and obedient pet. Ask your vet for suggestions on which ones are best for your breed of dog. Lastly, other activities such as exercise, training, grooming are as important as regular visits to the veterinarian. Deworming and vaccination are must.

Q: My four years old pug Rambo is on dog food. He has put on weight. How do I make him lose weight? He is still not house trained and he keeps jumping on people, sofas and bed. Please help.
– Shruti Mohan, Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: 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. Don’t forget to take into account the calories in treats and other tidbits he eats—they shouldn’t make up more than 10-15 percent of his daily calorie intake. Try to exercise your dog as much as he can. The more muscle he maintains, the more calories he’ll burn and less fat he’ll carry. Start keeping a record of your dog’s weight. If possible, weigh him once a week. Give him two to four small measured meals a day so you can regulate his portions. To keep him from begging for food, feed your dog before you have your own meals. 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.

There is a possibility that the dog may be house soiling as there is an underlying medical or behavioural reason (submissive, territorial marking, stress or anxiety, etc) and these behaviour problems can be modified effectively by training.

Exercise your dog for at least 30 minutes of walking or playing before guest arrives and if the arrival of guests makes your dog excitable, give him a break in his crate or in a quiet room with a familiar doggie bed or blanket. Train your dog to sit quietly near the front door when the doorbell rings and finally start by earning your dog’s respect through obedience commands—such as sit, stay and down. Remember, dog training involves consistency and repetition, so stick with it and don’t give in.

Q: I have a five-year-old pet dog (Estrela Mountain Dog). Please guide for better nourishment, health care, etc.
– Suzie Carlos, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Owning 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. Maybe 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.

Q: I have a male Rottie, who is two years and nine months. He has developed small bumps on the skin in the neck area. The bumps also itch- as he keeps scratching them, what could this be?
– Naveen Sharma, Surat

Dr KG Umesh: There are many reasons for itchy small bumps on your pet skin. Most often, it is caused by fleas or other parasites, infection or allergies. Get him examined by your vet ASAP before it worsens or spreads to entire body.

Ask the Expert.. | Sep Oct 2011

Q: My one-year-old male Rottweiler has got a problem with his elbows on the front legs. Water like liquid fills in them. The veterinarian had pricked the water out with a thick syringe and put a medicine in but he is again suffering from the same problem. Do advice.
– Ketan Verma, Ludhiana

Dr KG Umesh: From your description, I assume that your pet may be having a condition ask the expertcalled hygroma. This is a non-painful, fluid-filled swelling under the skin that commonly develops 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 a bony prominence, 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 for the same.

Q: I have a three-year-old male Spitz dog. Can I keep another male dog of large breeds like Doberman, Boxer, Mastiff, Bulldog, etc?
– Rahul Chakraborty, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: It’s not impossible that the two male dogs would get along forever without problems but the relation you have with your Spitz dog is very special and bringing in another male does jeopardize it. It is likely that there will be some conflict between these two, they may go to war in six months, a year, two years, even several years later as they decide to try for a change in pack order. It’s just so much happier for the dog and safer for you when your dogs are of opposite sex.

Q: My Pug initially had red and subsequently blackish blisters all over his body and they keep spreading to the rest of the body. Please advice.
– Parag Goyal, Muzaffarnagar

Dr KG Umesh: Any chronic or recurrent skin problem in pets requires some investigations to find the underlying cause and appropriate treatment. Dogs with recurrent skin problems may develop secondary bacterial or yeast infections that need to be addressed before treating primary skin problem. Likewise, some skin diseases like atopy or hypothyroidism may require lifelong treatment. Please take him to a specialist vet ASAP.

Q: My pup after relieving himself keeps sniffing his poop and tries to eat it, to my horror, I somehow manage to pull him away. Please do advice – how do I deal with this problem.
– Niharika, Lucknow

Dr KG Umesh: Coprophagia, or eating of faeces, is very common in dogs, and is often seen in puppies. It is not dangerous to the dog’s health, but can be unpleasant habit to live with. Treating the problem can be simple and involves thinking ahead. Any faeces deposited in the garden should be removed as quickly as possible. A dietary imbalance or parasites can on occasions cause coprophagy. Make sure that your dog is receiving complete and balanced food and dewormed regularly. One method of training is to walk your dog on an extending lead and purposely direct him towards some stools. As soon as he stoops to try to eat faeces, pull the dog gently and effectively away and at the same time, unpleasant distracting noise such as “NO” should be sounded and immediately after this, make him ‘sit’ and praise for compliance with kind words and physical contact. The dog should not be punished as he will not associate the punishment with the action. This type of exposure should be repeated several times. We suggest professional training if it is associated with behavioural problem. Some advise products containing (or spraying) pepper or mustard on faeces and are ethically questionable. Feeding a slice of pineapple or peppermint oil may work in some dogs.

Q: My six-month-old Alsatian puppy King had indigestion and vomited the food- after which he ran to our garden and started eating grass and plants. Do let me know if this is normal.
– R Seth, Ghaziabad

Dr KG Umesh: 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. Some suggest dogs do this 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 he is on dog food, all he needs is only water. If the grass eating is accompanied by prolonged or persistent vomiting, and particularly if the vomits contain blood, veterinary advice should be sought.

Ask the Expert | July Aug 2011

Q: My three-year-old son wants to adopt a Labrador. I will like to know how much space a grown up Labrador needs to feel comfortable and what costs are involved in maintaining a dog on a monthly basis. Also, do advice us about the temperament of the Labrador.
– Churamany Chetry, Assam

Dr KG Umesh: Labrador, being a large breed, cannot be cramped in a small apartment.ask the expertThey need plenty of space to run around and more importantly, the availability of open spaces nearby for exercise. 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 and veterinary visits (for both routine check-ups and unexpected problems), training, kennelling during holidays and regular grooming sessions, etc. Labrador is an affectionate and loyal companion. Dogs are social animals. They need a lot of attention, especially when young, and sufficient time must be set aside for their training, exercise and grooming.

Q: I have a two and half years old male Labrador, who is extremely friendly and docile. We are planning to bring home a second dog, probably a Saint Bernard or an English Mastiff. We want to ask you how to introduce them and manage them both- so they grow to like each other? Can you also recommend some other medium or large breeds?
– Nikhil, Palli

Dr KG Umesh: Whatever your reasons to add another dog to the family just be aware that bringing in a new dog is a huge change for an older dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. Here are a few ways you can help make the process of introducing your older dog to a new dog less stressful. With the new puppy/dog in your lap/lease and your older dog on a leash held by someone else, let the older dog sniff, lick and explore the puppy/dog. A couple of minutes are more than enough time for this initial introduction. Remove the new puppy/dog from the room, and then lavish your older dog with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppy/dog onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along. It’s not a good idea to leave your puppy/dog alone with your older dog. There should always be someone there to supervise. When you talk to each of the dogs, use a happy, friendly tone of voice. Never talk to them in a way that is threatening. Reward good behaviour with treats and/or compliments of “good dog!” Monitor their body language. And be sure to give him lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced’.

Q: My five-month-old puppy has hookworms. What measures should I take with the puppy? Also, I have an infant and a toddler- what preventive measures to be taken with them?
– Monica, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: Keep the dog in good health. Go for regular examinations by a veterinarian as well as up-to-date vaccines and regular fecal exams to check for intestinal parasites. Ensure that the dog is free of fleas and ticks. Simply practice good hygiene at home – washing hands with soap and water after coming in contact with urine, feces or any bodily discharge from a dog. Feed a high-quality commercial dog food. Do not feed raw meat or untreated animal-based treats. Do not let the dog lick or sleep in the same bed. Always supervise children when they play with a pet. For most puppies, it is sufficient to worm routinely every 2-3 weeks until six months of age and then as advised by your veterinarian. There are many safe, effective products available which will eliminate these worms.

Q: I want to know if I can keep a female Labrador with a one-year-old Lhasa Apso. What is the correct age for spaying the female dog? Is it a complicated operation? Further I want to know whether the female Labrador will come into cycle or season or heat despite being operated.
– Ajay Kumar Khanduri, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Spaying is an irreversible means by which a dog is rendered sterile. The procedure entails complete removal of the uterus and ovaries in females – means no cycles. Surgery is preceded by a fasting period and requires general anaesthesia and hospitalisation. The incision must stay dry and suture removal is usually performed 7 to 10 days after surgery. There are also hospitals/clinics, which conduct spaying with Keyhole or Laparoscopy methods, with minimum invasive surgery and on outpatient basis. Complications are unusual but may include post surgical haemorrhage and infection, etc. Postoperative care includes restriction of exercise for a week, protection of the incision from contaminants, and daily monitoring of the incision for inflammation or discharge. Some suggest spaying as early as three months of age, while few spay after first season for female dogs. 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.

Q: My four-year-old black female Lab constantly gets urinary tract infections. Steffi also has major skin problems diagnosed as psoriases. Do advice what is best for dogs- home food or commercial food.
– Abhijit Bhagwat, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to bacterial colonization of portions of the urinary tract that are normally sterile (kidneys, ureters, bladder, and proximal urethra) and is the most common infectious disease in dogs. Management of recurrent urinary tract infection is based on proper diagnosis of the underlying disease. This involves complete examination, blood tests and urine analysis including culture. This may help to identify some predisposing or perpetuating factors like diabetes, anatomical defects, urinary stones and systemic diseases. Ideally, patients with bacterial UTI that have been treated with antibiotics should have bacterial urine cultures periodically performed after completion of the course of antibiotics to ensure that the infection has been eliminated. There is no nutritional advantage to feeding home-made or raw foods over a commercially prepared pet food product, but there is the very real risk of illness. You may have to avoid only the particular ingredient in either home or commercial food that your dog has proven to have ‘allergy’ or adverse reactions (which are uncommon). The diet in fact plays an important role in management of some forms of urinary tract infections.

I have a one-year-old Labrador

Q: I have a one-year-old Labrador, who is losing a lot of fur. I have shown to my doctors but they cannot figure out the reason. Please help.
–Deepti Shah, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Hair loss is a common complaint in our country in dogs with skin disorders and results from a number of causes. Unlike human being, hair growth cycle in dogs is different. For example, hair does not grow continuously in dogs. Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics, health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and therefore, can be physiological. Dogs may also shed excessive hair because of stress, worms, harsh climate and general illness. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause(s) like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection, etc and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore hair fall. Your vet may suggest some blood tests and trichogram. Evening Primrose oil capsules (1 cap per day) or corn oil (2-4 tsp) and Zinc capsules everyday in the feed may also help him improve his hair coat in the short term when no underlying cause is identified.

Q: My 33-day-old pug ‘Dhanush’ seems to have a birth defect on his right paw, which is slightly bent as diagnosed by my vet, Dr. Morton. He limps slightly when he walks. His paw is slightly bent inwards. Is this correctable by surgery? When is the right time? The breeder even offered to take him back but we are all so emotionally attached to him that we wouldn’t give him up at any cost. I look to you for help.
–Bharati Ramesh, Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: It is difficult to recommend or suggest suitable therapy without reading his radiograph and confirming the diagnosis. Juvenile carpal flexural deformity and carpal laxity syndrome are pretty common growth-related conditions in young pups (usually less than four months of age). Most people advise a good quality puppy diet and good footing but there’s no sure evidence that this makes any difference. Splinting does not help and may be contraindicated. Thus, the best treatment here is probably benign neglect. Please contact your vet who can suggest orthopedic specialist in your region.

Q: I kept a street pup at the age of about 20 days, now she is two months old and she is having bowing of front legs with inversion at ankles, she was diagnosed with rickets and was given calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D without any improvement. I have just gone through a website which says it is a disorder called knuckling over which is due to overnutrition, my dog is on Puppy Pedigree–200 gm per day. Please help.
–Vikrant, Bhopal

Dr KG Umesh: Growth in dogs occurs within a genetically determined time frame, but is influenced by a variety of environmental factors, including nutrition. No specific cause has been identified as being ultimately responsible for the clinical manifestations of developmental bone disease, but research indicates that two of the more important nutritional factors are calcium and energy. Whereas simple deficiencies of both of these variables can induce growth and developmental problems, it is their excess (calcium and overfeeding/energy) or alterations in calcium homeostasis that are likely to be of more practical significance. Dysplasia, OCD, hytertrophic osteodystrophy, Valgus deformity are few examples of common orthopaedic problems seen in growing dogs. Therefore my suggestion is to find the cause by thorough investigations including radiograph. Treatment is to decrease the energy intake if the puppy is being fed ad lib and to discontinue any and all dietary supplementations while it is fed on recommended quantity of Pedigree.

Q: My eight-year-old Dachshund has not been able to walk for the past 15 days with his front legs. I took my dog to our veterinary doctor here in Thanjavur – they said it is due to spinal problem. They gave him two injections (painkiller and B-complex) and also IR therapy. His condition has worsened as he cannot get up at all—when he tries to stand up he makes noise. Please advice.
–Balraj & Alex, Thanjavur

Dr KG Umesh: Slipped disc (dislocation of cushioning disc between the vertebrae) is very common in short-legged, long-backed breeds like yours. Intervertebral discs function as shock absorbers and stabilizers of the spine. In these breeds, the disc undergoes degeneration over time but trauma and embolism etc are some other causes. The degeneration causes loss of normal disc architecture and function, resulting in disc bulging or herniation into the spinal canal. Severity and type of signs depend on the rate of disc extrusion/protrusion, volume of compressive mass/cord compression, and lesion location. Surgery or conservative management is used to treat the disease. Conservative treatment is recommend for grade 1 and 2 which includes strict confinement for 4 to 6 weeks; using harness rather than a collar to walk dogs with neck disease. Keep him in a well-padded, clean area to help prevent bed ulcers and urine scald, and bathe as needed. Loss of conscious urination will require manual bladder emptying. Range-of-motion exercises/physiotherapy help maintain muscle and joint health, and standing/balancing exercises encourage limb use and build strength. Non-ambulatory animals should not be allowed to drag themselves around. A cart is a good option for animals with permanent loss of mobility as long as the owner can provide appropriate care.

Q: How can hot spots be prevented? I have a 3 years and 10 months old Labrador who has just recovered from hot spots on the tail and I am a bit worried about recurrence.
–BG Menon, Ghaziabad

Dr KG Umesh: It is very important to recognise that recurring hot spot is secondary to some underlying disease in majority of cases and therefore it is important to perform appropriate diagnostics to find the cause. The most common underlying causes may include fleas and other parasites, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal or other metabolic disorders, allergies and immature immune system. Your vet may suggest some basic blood test and skin tests to find the possible cause. Make sure he is receiving balanced food containing adequate zinc and fatty acids that may help strengthen skin barrier function and bathe only when required (your vet may recommend suitable antibacterial plus colloidal oat meal shampoo). Grooming and flea control are equally important in prevention of hot spots.

Ask the Expert | May June 2011

Q: My four months old English Mastiff puppy is on dog food. Her weight is 29 kg. Whatask the expert quantity should I feed her per feeding – I feed her three meals a day. My puppy is not ready to walk long distances. At what age will she be ready to walk long distances? Do advice her exercise needs according to her age.
-Prabhakar R Patil, Kolhapur

Dr KG Umesh: Feed the required quantity as mentioned on the pet food label, three to four times a day. All dogs need exercise but the amount depends greatly on the individual dog. Puppies don’t need to be encouraged to exercise. However, you have to be careful not to over-exercise them because their bones aren’t very strong. Large breed generally becomes adult by 24 months of age. The rule is to exercise them a little, and often, probably not lasting for longer than 20-30 minutes for each exercise. Exercise to your dog’s abilities, not yours.

Q: I have a three years old female German Shepherds, who is facing skin problem at chest and thigh. My vet prescribed medicines. After using the medicines on a regular basis, my observation is that the problem reduces in a slow manner but also spreads in the other areas rapidly. I am facing this disease with my dog since last 5-6 months. Please advice.
– Suman Kar, Chittaranjan

Dr KG Umesh: German Shepherds are highly susceptible to certain chronic skin diseases. All chronic or recurring skin problems require some lab tests to find underlying cause. Your vet can do simple skin and blood tests that will help to identify causes like parasites, allergies, fungal or yeast infection, etc. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable shampoos and medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore recurring problem.

Q: Buddy- my four and a half years old Golden Retriever’s platelets count is very less (76000) and is undergoing treatment since Dec’10 for the same. It increased from 55000 to 76000. Moreover he’s got a ringworm problem too. Lately the test showed a reduced thyroid too. Please advice.
– Anupam Sharma, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: It is difficult for me to suggest specific treatment or diagnostic plan with the available information. Considering his multiple medical problems, I would suggest a complete medical examination and lab tests to arrive at a confirmatory diagnosis. These medical problems may be complications from an underlying disease or may be unrelated also.

Q: My two and a half months old Lab male puppy is frequently urinating and defecating inside the house. How do I house train him?
– Amrutha Sanish, Mysore

Dr KG Umesh: House training rarely presents a problem with puppies who have been reared under normal conditions. A young puppy needs to urinate and defecate frequently as he has a very small bladder and bowel. This gives you as a puppy owner plenty of opportunity to praise your puppy for performing in the right area, allowing him to learn quickly. Do not punish your puppy for doing wrong. It is your responsibility to ensure that you take your puppy to the chosen toilet area as frequently as he needs to go, generally as soon as he wakes up, after every meal and at hourly intervals. Take your puppy outside, wait with him until he performs and then praise him by giving him a snack or playing with him. Whilst he is learning, it is essential that you wait with him, so that you can praise him at the correct time. Young puppies will inevitably have ‘accidents’. It is important to ignore these, and to clean up well so that the smell does not linger, as this may encourage him to repeat the performance on the same spot. Do not scold your dog for mistakes, but rather reward him when he is correct and he will soon want to go outside. It is also possible to train your dog to urinate and defecate on command.

Q: How can I take care of a Rottweiler during summer?
– Kannan Ramakrishnan, Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: Generally dogs eat less in summer because of heat or heat stress. But energy requirement increases with increase in ambient temperature. This means he may need to eat more during hot summer. A well-balanced nutritionally complete diet like Pedigree confers some protection against the effects of heat stress. Feed during cooler part of the day, if possible or increase frequency of feeding. Remember to give them plenty of water so he doesn’t become dehydrated in the warm weather. It’s extremely dangerous to leave a pet alone in a vehicle/room/outdoors in the sun – even with a window open – as an overheated car/room can have fatal consequences. Avoid exercising your pet in the midday heat and stick to early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler. It’s important your pets get their annual vaccinations and regular worm/parasitic treatment during summer.

Ask the Expert..| March April 11

Q: My pet Oscar, a Labrador, is two months old. Is it advisable to take him for grooming at this age? At what age should we start bathing him and how often?
– Indraneel Gupta, New Delhi

Dr K G Umesh: You can groom your puppy every other day to accustom him to thisask the expert procedure and to being handled. Begin with gentle grooming equipment that does not hurt or irritate the puppy’s skin. Brushes and combs are custom-made for different breeds and lengths of hair; again, it’s important to select the ones that help his coat stay healthy and tangle-free. Dogs only need bathing when they are dirty or on the advice of your veterinarian. Because puppies have sensitive skin, talk to your vet about a shampoo that’s pH balanced just for him.

Q: My three-year-old Spitz has been having loose stools over a period of time, sometimes there is vomiting too. She has been given medicines by the vet. She is being fed rice and curd. Please help.
– Rohan Das, Nasik

Dr KG Umesh: Acute diarrhoea is common, usually self-limiting, and often needs only symptomatic treatment. However, in some dogs, initial symptomatic treatment is ineffective and diarrhoea becomes chronic. The causes of chronic diarrhoea in dogs are multiple, and numerous factors are involved (parasites, colitis, inflammatory bowel diseases). In these patients, sequential application of specific diagnostic or function tests to arrive at accurate diagnosis is essential, so that clinician can prescribe the specific therapy.

Q: Recently my seven-year-old GSD named Rambo has been diagnosed with arthritis. Please do help me with some information about the disease and its treatment/management.
– S Srikanth, Chennai

Dr KG Umesh: Osteoarthritis (OA) can be a progressive problem in which pain and disuse lead to further deterioration of joint movement and function. Physical rehabilitation can play an important role in the management of osteoarthritis. Therapeutic exercise and physical modalities (cryotherapy, thermotherapy, therapeutic ultrasound, and electrical stimulation) may be indicated to enhance motion or reduce pain, allowing improved function. Massage may be beneficial in reducing muscle spasms. In addition, a long-term diet and exercise schedule must be designed to maintain a lean body weight, which also reduces joint stress. Lifestyle changes, such as the use of ramps may also be considered. A number of drugs and other substances are promoted for the treatment including polysulfated glycosaminoglycans and NSAIDs.

Q: My dog’s eyes have been watering and every morning he has white residue. We have been wiping the same with cotton dipped in water. Do advice if this is normal.
– Prabha, Bhatinda

Dr KG Umesh: Abnormal discharge, either watery or cloudy, may indicate problem with tear production or flow or drain. It can also be a sign of infection. Therefore, take him to your vet ASAP.

Q: Winnie (eight years old Spaniel) has hypothyroid – she has been prescribed with medicine – twice daily for half an hour before breakfast and dinner. Do advice what food should I feed her.
– Ashwin Chaudhri, Visakhapatnam

Dr KG Umesh: There is no specific food or nutritional requirement for dogs with hypothyroidism but make sure that the food she eats is balanced and complete. Monitor her body weight and thyroid hormones on regular basis.

Q: When my dog urinates, he leaves a white mark on the floor. Is it a symptom of any sickness?
– Deepa Titus, Bhopal

Dr KG Umesh: Most dogs have urine which is slightly acidic and may leave such white marks on floor or carpets, etc. However, I suggest you visit your vet to make sure that he is free of urinary tract infection.

Ask the Expert..| Jan – Feb 11

Q: I am planning to buy a Labrador Retriever puppy. Please tell me what are the pre/post things I should check/do? Also suggest how many month old pup should I buy?
-Amrutha, Bangalore

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Owning a dog is a big responsibility and giving your dog the best care andask the expert attention can help to improve the quality and length of your dog’s life. The best age to bring a puppy home is when he is eight weeks old. The best place to obtain a pedigree puppy is from a recognised and reputable breeder or recommendations from your veterinarian. It is always best to see the parents/mother to check that they/she is healthy and have good temperament. Don’t buy from a dealer who has bought in puppies from several sources (a puppy farm). The risk of disease and stress-induced illness is greater for these puppies and this type of trade should not be supported. Consult your vet to have a complete health check and examination before you bring him home. The list of essentials you’ll need for your puppy’s first big day home are weaning or puppy food from a reputed manufacturer, feeding/water bowl, collar, leash, safe toys and chews, shampoos, brush/comb and also a puppy crate. Make sure that he has a comfortable bed and it is fairly normal for a puppy to be restless at first until he is adjusted to his new home.

Q: Do advice how to take extra care of female pets when they start getting their period cycle?
-Ranjana Batra, New Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Puppies usually have their first heat at about six months of age; however, this can vary from breed to breed and can occur as early as four months of age or as late as 18 months. The female-dog is usually in season for about three weeks and she becomes increasingly attractive to males during this period. Her own behaviour may also change and she may become restless and more excitable, but it is normally not until the second week of her season that she will allow the male to mate with her. However, all female-dogs are different and sometimes a male can mate as early as the first day of her season or as late as the last day. Therefore, be sure to keep your female dog well away from male dogs right throughout her season, unless you wish to breed. Most female-dogs, if un-neutered and if not mated, will come into season approximately every six months, although very large breeds of dogs may cycle anything up to once in 15 months. You can postpone her cycle using pills or consider neutering which has several advantages.

Q: I recently got an abandoned Labrador pup, who is 35 days old, Alvin (my pup) is quite agile & playful. He is around one kg body weight and has a good appetite. Is he underweight? Do advice the growth rate of a lab –till he becomes an adult.
– Dr. Abhinav Saikia, Guwahati

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Historical information is very important, especially regarding diet, daily activity, environment, signs of digestive disease or any specific disease to identify underlying cause of poor weight gain. Typically, a puppy’s growth is influenced by nutrition, genetics and environment. The list of likely different causes for a puppy with poor weight gain despite a normal or increased appetite is much different and much shorter than that for patients with decreased appetite or anorexia. However, they share a common feature – insufficient caloric intake or availability to meet metabolic needs. Please make sure that you are feeding as per feeding guidelines and increase quantity of feed by 10 percent for every extra one hour activity. Avoid supplements when he is exclusively fed on weaning or puppy food. Please get your pet examined to rule out any underlying medical problem and monitor weight of your puppy on weekly basis. Lab puppy may weigh between 2-5 kg at 6-9 weeks to 27- 30 kg at 12-16 months of age. Please ask your vet for Waltham puppy’s growth chart and body condition score that help to assess growth of your puppy.

Q: My Basset, who is two years old, is suffering from a recurring ear infection which has a bad odour and a discharge. I have consulted a veterinarian but the problem recurred after two months. Please let us know how to prevent this situation.
– R Banga, Jamshedpur

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Recurrent ear infection is common in Basset hounds for several reasons. Your pet may have an anatomic ear problem—often stenosis, but a growth, excessive hair, and poor conformation are also possible. Ear infections usually become chronic or recurrent because the infection is caused by an unusual or very resistant organism or the infection is very deep and has never been cleaned or treated aggressively enough. Most frequently, an underlying disease (parasites, atopy or allergy or seborrhoea/endocrine disease) predispose to recurrence. Failure to address the underlying cause in a pet with chronic ear problem dooms one to treatment failure. Your vet may advise series of tests including cytology to find the underlying cause. Therefore each factor must be considered in your pet and, if present, must be corrected before the ear disease will stay in remission.

Q: I have two Lab Retrievers – a male and a female. I give my pets bananas to eat. Can dogs eat fruits?
– Janarthan
Dr. K.G. Umesh: Fruits contain some good nutrients including fibre but are not essential/beneficial when your pets are receiving complete and balanced food. There is no harm in feeding fruits occasionally but make sure that it does not add to calories that may contribute to overweight or obesity. Avoid grapes/raisins, avocado and macadamia nuts which are toxic to dogs

Q: My dog has been vomiting and is showing loss of appetite. Please advice.
– Aditi Dev, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Vomiting is merely a sign and may result from many disorders (digestive and non digestive like kidney, liver etc). Most vomiting cases are acute and reversible, requiring only supportive and symptomatic therapy. Generally it is advised to withhold food and water for at least 24 hours and introduce highly digestible food like rice, avoiding high fat diets. In contrast to acute problems, chronic ones are rarely self-limiting and it is usually essential to establish specific diagnosis (with help from lab tests/investigations) and appropriate therapy.

Ask the Expert / Nov-Dec 2010

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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia

Q: We have adopted a two and a half years old male Black Lab who was abandoned. He has some skin patches which are now recovering and the hair is coming back. But I am worried about his health. What food should we give him, also does he require supplements? – Bijal Gehlot, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Just like us, adult dogs need a balanced diet which contains the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, many different vitamins and minerals to ensure that they stay in peak condition and maintain optimal health. The nutritional profile of any diet-including homemade diets-depends on how the recipe was formulated, the nutrient content of the ingredients, and how you prepare the diet. Unless properly formulated by a nutritionist or a vet, diets made at home are not likely to be nutritionally complete and balanced (deficient, excessive or unbalanced in essential nutrients). Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers like Pedigree come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. They also contain adequate level of zinc and fats to keep skin and hair coat healthy. There is no need to feed any supplements like calcium or vitamins while he is feeding on balanced food like pedigree except clean fresh water. Therefore continue feeding only recommended quantity of the prepared petfood.

Q: I have an eight-month-old Pug. Since last four months he has developed serious skin infection. We are continuously in touch with local vet but we are worried. Please help. -AM Pendse, Pune

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. Growing puppies are generally susceptible to nutritional and parasitic skin diseases like demodicosis. 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. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment.

Q: I have a pair of Rottwielers; my male who is two years old is very friendly. How can I train him to bark at strangers? – Nishant, Bulandshahar

Dr KG Umesh: The Rottweiler is a large intimidating-looking dog with muscular and powerful body. They must be thoroughly socialized at an early age as most Rottweilers are inclined toward dominance/aggression and will test for position in the family pecking order.

What is your dog trying to communicate through his barking? He may be barking to express happiness orfear, to get attention, to warn you of an approaching stranger, or to let you know he is bored or lonely. He may also bark to let others know that they are in his territory. Only good training and socialization will mean your dog is able to tell the difference between people allowed into the house and intruders. You may need to get the help of a professional trainer. A dog with good manners will not bark unnecessarily!

Q: My German Shepherd who is 12 years old has a back problem. My vet is treating her for paralysis attack. Currently she cannot move. Any test/therapy that we should undertake? Is this situation curable? – Kamal Kant, Bhilwara

Dr KG Umesh: A reasonable work-up for paralysis is required with selected tests to identify underlying cause, considering your pet’s age and breed. Radiograph and other imaging tests like CT or MRI are used to rule out prolapsed or herniated disk, fractures, spinal injury, hip joint problems etc. This will help your vet to provide appropriate prognosis and treatment plan based on cause. Some dogs respond well to rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication. Your vet may consider surgery when it is appropriate and fit at this stage. Physiotherapy and supportive treatment may benefit until cause is identified or when no underlying problem can be identified.

Q: I am looking for a dog for my home, do advice a breed which will be suitable -I have a house of 200 sq yards, no kids at home, looking for a friendly breed- who is vary of strangers, shedding should be medium/minimal. Do also advice the economical expenditure considering vaccination and diet per month. – Anmol Bhatia, New Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Small breeds with short hair coat would fit your requirements. You can choose breeds like Pug or Dachshund, Miniature Pinscher, etc which are more manageable. Manufactured pet foods not only provide complete nutrition but are also cheaper compared to home prepared diets. You have to bear Vaccination and other preventive health care cost during first three months of puppy stage and then you need to visit your vet at least twice a year for a routine health check and annual vaccinations.

Ask the expert… | Sep Oct 10

Q: I have a one-year-old Labrador, who is losing a lot of fur. I have shown to my doctors but they cannot figure out the reason. Please help.
–Deepti Shah, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Hair loss is a common complaint in our country in dogs with skin ask the expertdisorders and results from a number of causes. Unlike human being, hair growth cycle in dogs is different. For example, hair does not grow continuously in dogs. Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics, health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and therefore, can be physiological. Dogs may also shed excessive hair because of stress, worms, harsh climate and general illness. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause(s) like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection, etc and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore hair fall. Your vet may suggest some blood tests and trichogram. Evening Primrose oil capsules (1 cap per day) or corn oil (2-4 tsp) and Zinc capsules everyday in the feed may also help him improve his hair coat in the short term when no underlying cause is identified.

Q: My 33-day-old pug ‘Dhanush’ seems to have a birth defect on his right paw, which is slightly bent as diagnosed by my vet, Dr. Morton. He limps slightly when he walks. His paw is slightly bent inwards. Is this correctable by surgery? When is the right time? The breeder even offered to take him back but we are all so emotionally attached to him that we wouldn’t give him up at any cost. I look to you for help.
–Bharati Ramesh, Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: It is difficult to recommend or suggest suitable therapy without reading his radiograph and confirming the diagnosis. Juvenile carpal flexural deformity and carpal laxity syndrome are pretty common growth-related conditions in young pups (usually less than four months of age). Most people advise a good quality puppy diet and good footing but there’s no sure evidence that this makes any difference. Splinting does not help and may be contraindicated. Thus, the best treatment here is probably benign neglect. Please contact your vet who can suggest orthopedic specialist in your region.

Q: I kept a street pup at the age of about 20 days, now she is two months old and she is having bowing of front legs with inversion at ankles, she was diagnosed with rickets and was given calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D without any improvement. I have just gone through a website which says it is a disorder called knuckling over which is due to overnutrition, my dog is on Puppy Pedigree–200 gm per day. Please help.
–Vikrant, Bhopal

Dr KG Umesh: Growth in dogs occurs within a genetically determined time frame, but is influenced by a variety of environmental factors, including nutrition. No specific cause has been identified as being ultimately responsible for the clinical manifestations of developmental bone disease, but research indicates that two of the more important nutritional factors are calcium and energy. Whereas simple deficiencies of both of these variables can induce growth and developmental problems, it is their excess (calcium and overfeeding/energy) or alterations in calcium homeostasis that are likely to be of more practical significance. Dysplasia, OCD, hytertrophic osteodystrophy, Valgus deformity are few examples of common orthopaedic problems seen in growing dogs. Therefore my suggestion is to find the cause by thorough investigations including radiograph. Treatment is to decrease the energy intake if the puppy is being fed ad lib and to discontinue any and all dietary supplementations while it is fed on recommended quantity of Pedigree.

Q: My eight-year-old Dachshund has not been able to walk for the past 15 days with his front legs. I took my dog to our veterinary doctor here in Thanjavur – they said it is due to spinal problem. They gave him two injections (painkiller and B-complex) and also IR therapy. His condition has worsened as he cannot get up at all—when he tries to stand up he makes noise. Please advice.
–Balraj & Alex, Thanjavur

Dr KG Umesh: Slipped disc (dislocation of cushioning disc between the vertebrae) is very common in short-legged, long-backed breeds like yours. Intervertebral discs function as shock absorbers and stabilizers of the spine. In these breeds, the disc undergoes degeneration over time but trauma and embolism etc are some other causes. The degeneration causes loss of normal disc architecture and function, resulting in disc bulging or herniation into the spinal canal. Severity and type of signs depend on the rate of disc extrusion/protrusion, volume of compressive mass/cord compression, and lesion location. Surgery or conservative management is used to treat the disease. Conservative treatment is recommend for grade 1 and 2 which includes strict confinement for 4 to 6 weeks; using harness rather than a collar to walk dogs with neck disease. Keep him in a well-padded, clean area to help prevent bed ulcers and urine scald, and bathe as needed. Loss of conscious urination will require manual bladder emptying. Range-of-motion exercises/physiotherapy help maintain muscle and joint health, and standing/balancing exercises encourage limb use and build strength. Non-ambulatory animals should not be allowed to drag themselves around. A cart is a good option for animals with permanent loss of mobility as long as the owner can provide appropriate care.

Q: How can hot spots be prevented? I have a 3 years and 10 months old Labrador who has just recovered from hot spots on the tail and I am a bit worried about recurrence.
–BG Menon, Ghaziabad

Dr KG Umesh: It is very important to recognise that recurring hot spot is secondary to some underlying disease in majority of cases and therefore it is important to perform appropriate diagnostics to find the cause. The most common underlying causes may include fleas and other parasites, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal or other metabolic disorders, allergies and immature immune system. Your vet may suggest some basic blood test and skin tests to find the possible cause. Make sure he is receiving balanced food containing adequate zinc and fatty acids that may help strengthen skin barrier function and bathe only when required (your vet may recommend suitable antibacterial plus colloidal oat meal shampoo). Grooming and flea control are equally important in prevention of hot spots.