Ask the expert | July Aug 07

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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia.


Q : I just want to know that what would be the appropriate diet for my 50-day-old female Labrador. She also bites things around. What should I do?
– Amit Jhingran, Hisar

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Proper nutrition allows for puppy to reach his full genetic potential. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced breeder to get the nutritional balance just right. Remember that puppies grow approximately 12 times faster than baby and baby foods/home prepared diets do not meet nutrient requirements of puppies. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start as they are designed to meet all their nutritional requirements.

Also, it is normal for puppies to be “mouthie.” When she tries to bite, a GENTLE tap on the nose with a “NO BITE” command should be sufficient to correct this behaviour. Consistency is the key with puppies. When the pup stops the bad behaviour make sure you reward her with “GOOD (puppy’s name)!” Puppies want to make their owners happy and you need to help them by your voice tone when they are being good.

Q : My dog had a wound, which is now cured, but there is no hair growth in that area. Why?
– Sibi, Coimbatore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Hair growth cycle is influenced by many factors such as hormones, stress, nutrition, diseases and drug therapy. The wound might have destroyed hair follicles. Your vet may help you to find underlying cause.

Q : My dog is probably pregnant. How do I confirm her pregnancy? Please advice me what care should be taken now, during birth and post birth. Also tell me about the pregnancy term.
– Sumonto Choudhury, Dehradun

Dr. K.G. Umesh : The diagnosis of pregnancy (gestation period: 57–69, with average of 63 days)–may begin with abdominal palpation and then be more accurately diagnosed via ultrasonography or canine pregnancy kits. Late in gestation, the female requires increased amounts of a well-balanced, high-energy diet to meet the needs of the developing offspring as well as to enable her to produce enough milk for the offspring. Lactation may begin as early as 7 days prepartum in the pregnant female, but most females produce milk hours before they whelp. Her appetite may decrease and nest-building behaviour begins 24 to 36 hours before parturition. A reduction in her body temperature of about 1.1°F signifies that whelping is 12 to 24 hours away. A whelping box should be provided in a quiet, dimly lit area that is free of drafts. She should be left alone in the whelping box with free access to food and clean water and should be monitored as unobtrusively as possible. If a puppy is not born within 2 hours of the start of abdominal contractions (true labour), she may need medical attention. Consult your vet for further information.

Q : I have a 12-weeks-old Labrador. Tell me about deworming and sterilisation schedule. Also, he does not like going out for a walk. What should I do?
– Suresh Gharpure, Mumbai

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Deworming is generally recommended every 2-3 weeks until 6 months of age and thereafter, once in 3 months. Your vet can advise you as to when it is best to have the neutering done (either puppy age or after sexual maturity). Puppies show increasing attraction to unusual things in their environment, and they learn what is and isn’t pleasing. If puppies are exposed in a non-frightening way to a wide variety of stimulating things during this period, they’re less likely to be afraid of new objects and situations later in life. Make sure that you have time to invest in an intensive socialisation programme during his early weeks with you that will have a long lasting effect on his behaviour.

Q : How can I puppy-proof my home?
– Deepika Dubey, Jabalpur

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Household items that you may consider harmless can be deadly to your puppy. He may tug or chew anything he finds including plants and electrical cords. Candles, burners, coins and similar objects can also be hazardous. Do not leave hazardous items, including medicines, poisonous plants, detergents and cleaning agents, where your puppy can get to them. Also, chocolates should be kept away from them. Make sure that all gates are shut securely and that your puppy cannot squeeze through or under your gate. Puppies soon learn that not everything in and around your home is for playing with and that some things are just not safe. In the meantime, do everything you can to ensure your puppy has a safe environment to grow up.

Ask the expert | May June 07

Q : Please give me some information on female dog heat cycle. When is the right time to get Lucy, my 3-month-old Pomeranian, spayed? – Tara Verma, Patna

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Puppies usually have their first heat at about 6 months of age. However this can vary from breed to breed (4 months gto 18 months). The first signs of heat are usually swollen vulva and a blood stained discharge. On average, this (pro-estrous) will continue for about 9 days. This stage is followed by a period of estrous, where the discharge may turn to straw color and she will attract male dogs. Ovulation occurs 2 days after the start of estrous. Most female dogs, if not mated, will come to season (heat) approximately every 6 months. If you do not want to breed from your dog, consult your veterinarian on neutering or other forms of reproductive control. Some vets do spaying as early as 6 months, while some prefer to do it few weeks after her first cycle. There are advantages and drawbacks to each.

Q : I have a 4-month-old St. Bernard pup. Please give me information regarding his overall care, including height and weight chart. – Amarpreet, Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : 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. Feeding only mutton/meat could lead to skeletal/bone problems in large breed like yours. Likewise feeding excess energy (too much food in growing phase) and calcium make large breed to develop skeletal (bone and joint) problems in the later part of life. Large breeds like yours take longer time to mature (15-18 months). As your pet is still a puppy (until 18 months of age), we suggest to start him on puppy food like “Pedigree Large Breed Puppy” food, which is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of growing large breed puppies. St. Bernard should usually attain minimum height of 69 cms (76-86 cm) and weights have been recorded from 70 to 95 kg (some >100 kg). Waltham has developed “SHAPE” guide that will help you to monitor body condition. Please ask your vet for a copy of the same.

Q : My 6-year-old Pekingese sleeps almost throughout the day. What is the correct amount of sleep for him? – Prerna Suri, New Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Firstly, excessive sleep or inappropriate sleep must be differentiated from lethargy or depression. Does he show any abnormal pattern in sleep? What is level of his physical activities? Does he show any signs of systemic illness or is he under any medication? Please take him to vet for complete neurological examination and to rule out metabolic associated weakness and endocrine diseases like hypothyroidism.

Q : I have a mixed breed dog (Pom and German Shepherd), who frequently licks her private part (vulva). Why does she do it and how can I stop this? – Preeti, Indore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : There can be a number of reasons for your dog to behave like this. She might be in heat or suffering from local infection. Please take her to your vet for complete examination that may help to find underlying cause.

Q : Is wet nose of a dog a sign of good health? – Vivek Anand, Mumbai

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Although wet nose may be a sign of health, most illnesses are shown by a combination of signs and symptoms. Signs of illness in dogs vary depending on age of dog, system affected, type and duration of illness etc. For e.g., some dogs with simple fever continue to eat and play and also have wet nose, while some become lethargic and lose appetite. Therefore regular visits to your vet for monitoring his health is essential in preventing and controlling serious ailments.

Q : How can I determine that my dog has fever? – Deepika Shastri, Bangalore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Rectal thermometers are still the best way to check the body temperature of dogs as it is most reliable and validated. Some veterinary rectal thermometers are made exclusively for use in pets. You can also use human digital thermometer at home for monitoring you pet’s rectal temperature. However, human thermometers used on ear or fingertips are not recommended for pets.

Ask the expert – Mar Apr 07

Q : I feed Cerelac to my 8-week-old Pug puppy 4 times a day. We do not put milk in it as his stomach becomes loose. Please let me know about his feeding and nutrition needs till he is a year old. – Raashi Dewan, Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : 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. Our research has indicated that most home made diets/baby foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate and growth, development and body/skin condition may not be optimum. Puppies grow very fast, almost 12 times faster than a human baby. Puppies nutritional requirements are different from adults and is almost twice that of adults. Therefore, manufactured pet foods like Pedigree is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of dogs in different lifestages. Continue feeding puppy food until age of 6-8 months and switch over to adult pet food after that. Any dietary change should be made slowly to avoid any upsets to your pet’s digestion. Gradually introduce the manufactured pet food over a 5-10 day period by mixing very small amounts of the food with old diet. Make sure that fresh water is available at all times.

Q : My 5-year-old Spaniel Holly has ticks on her body. Last year, because of ticks she had suffered from a blood parasite diseases and her platelet count had come very low. How can I prevent her from the dreadful ticks. – Arnav Kapoor

Dr. K.G. 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. Seed ticks hatch from the eggs and climb onto grass to wait for a suitable host. 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 flea/ticks control products: Adulticides—these products kill adult fleas and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)/Insect Development Inhibitors (IDIs)—these products prevent fleas from hatching or maturing. Thorough cleaning of the house and yard should precede any application of insecticides. The veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for the client. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Q : Foxy – my GSD – is a senior (10 years) – starts gasping for breath when I take him for a walk. Please advise. – Monica, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Considering his age and signs, all I can suggest is to take him to your vet to rule out common diseases like heart failure, COPD or tracheal collapse. Inflamed airways and kennel cough may also cause such symptoms. If he finds it difficult to breathe after walk, exercise/running etc, and the vet would consider heart problems like left side heart failure. Some dogs commonly have respiratory disease (i.e., collapsing trachea, COPD) coexistent with heart disease also. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is get radiography, ECG and if possible echocardiography. Your vet might prescribe medications symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q : My dog has started shaking his right ear. Is this a sign of ear infection? How often and how do I clean the earwax build up? – Desai, Bangalore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Otitis externa or inflammation of outer ear canal is common in dogs. Many factors can cause or contribute to the development of this ear problem in dogs. Parasites, foreign bodies, endocrine problems, allergies, etc can be a cause. Like wise ear structure (for e.g., floppy ears), errors in cleaning ears/medications predispose dog to develop this ear problem. Dogs with recurrent ear infections should be evaluated for flea allergy, atopy (pollens allergy), food allergy and yeast infections etc. Recognition of underlying causes and treatment of all the factors contributing to the ear infection are the key to successful clinical management. Do not use cotton tipped applicators to clean ears! Depending on severity and duration of ear infection, your vet may perform variety of tests from examination of discharge to radiography. Therefore, I suggest taking him to your vet as early as possible to find underlying cause and appropriate cleaning and medication protocol.

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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia.

Ask the expert..Jan-Feb 2007

Q?:?My Golden Retreiver Angel has started vomiting – we feed her twice a day. Why is this happening and what can I do to stop this?

–?Rishi Sud, Ahmedabad Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Vomiting is only a clinical sign and not a disease. Vomiting, both acute and chronic, results from a number of causes. Most vomiting disorders are acute and reversible, requiring only supportive and symptomatic therapy. However, the vomiting patient often presents a challenge as it may be difficult to decide whether animal needs in-depth diagnostic evaluation or symptomatic treatment alone can resolve the problem. In contrast to acute problems, chronic ones are rarely self-limiting and it is usually essential to establish specific diagnosis and appropriate therapy. Q?:?Rani, my 3-year-old Pomeranian is always hungry. She eats thrice a day and still wants more. I cannot understand if we are feeding her less or she is over-eating. Please help.

–?Payal Malhotra, Amritsar Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?If she’s eating a lot, maybe she needs the food to fuel/match her activity level. Or it could just be that she’s bored. Or is she pregnant? Or has any signs of illness? Is she losing or gaining bodyweight? Some medical problems like diabetes or drugs may also cause this problem. Answer to some of these questions will help to find underlying cause for her voracious appetite. Contact your vet.

Q?:?Please provide a diet chart for my 3-month-old Labrador. Also, advise on a diet chart when he turns one.

–?Aman, Delhi Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?As the owner of a new puppy, you’ll want him to grow up fit and healthy, and reach his full genetic potential; all you have to do is provide your puppy with the correct diet right from the start. Homemade diets depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, and nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete. After all, weight for weight, a puppy needs up to two and a half times as many calories as an adult dog does. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced vet to get the nutritional balance just right. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start. Labrador breed may not reach his adult size until he is 12-14 months old. Therefore continue to feed him puppy products like Pedigree until this age. Feed him 3-5 times per day until 5 months of age and thereafter 2-3 times per day until 9 months of age. Adult dogs are generally fed once a day.

Q?:?Goofy, my 6-year-old Labrador has started passing gas. How do I take care of this problem?

–?Prerna Shinde, Pune Dr. K.G. 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 fibre 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. There are a number of ways to decrease your dog’s intestinal gas: Check your dog food label. Many dog foods contain soy, which can be hard to digest. 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.

Q?:?Do advise me on the exercise needs of my 4-month-old Dane puppy. Also, let me know if I need to give him supplements like calcium and vitamins for the growth and development of his body.

–?Swami, Coimbatore Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?All dogs need and usually love their daily exercise. The amount your dog needs will depend not only on his size, but also on his breed. Bear in mind that some smaller breeds such as Jack Russell Terriers can have lots of energy, whereas some larger breeds such as Great Danes and St. Bernard’s are not always as energetic. Don’t make the mistake of over-exercising your dog if he’s still growing, because his bones aren’t yet strong enough to cope with the extra stress. Little and often is the rule until your dog grows to full strength. Remember that large breeds mature later than small breeds. Ask your vet for advice. Never supplement calcium or vitamins while he is fed on balanced and complete prepared foods like Pedigree. Overzealous use of calcium and feeding excessive energy is the most common problem for large breed puppies to develop hip and skeletal problems.

Ask the Expert.. Nov-Dec 06

Q?:?I have a male Tibetan Terrier, who is 2 years and 3 months old. I feed him milk and roti for lunch and dinner and occasionally meat stock and roti. He has pedigree, biscuits, chewsticks for breakfast. Sometimes he stops eating his food. We have tried to feed him cereals, pulses and vegetables but he refuses to eat the same. He tends to eat the things we eat, refusing what is served in his bowl. He also likes to eat sweets. Are they good for his health? Please recommend a healthy diet for him.
– Aparna Thakre, Nasik

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?It is not surprising to know your pet showing this feeding behaviour. There are a number of reasons for your pet to behave like this. For e.g., he may have fear for new food, previous bad experience with the food, poor palatability or simply, he may be a fussy eater. Small breeds are generally considered as fussy eaters. Some dogs may refuse food/skip meals, when they have consumed more energy then they would require (which is common in our experience). Please make sure that you are not overfeeding him and monitor his body weight at least every two weeks.

Home made diets depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete. Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Therefore, we suggest to feed him pet food which is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of dogs in different lifestages. You can also choose to prepare balanced home made food after consulting your vet nutritionist. Feeding sweets occasionally as a snack should not be a problem as long as it does not add significant calories.

Q?:?Please advise how to take care of a two-month-old Rottweiler puppy?
– Sanjay Gupta

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, but other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important. If you start training your puppy early, housetraining shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Patience and praise at the right time is the secret. It is essential particularly during this socialisation period that the puppy encounters all the things (people, other animals, objects) that he may encounter in adult life. A well-socialised puppy should be able to cope with any new things that he may experience in later life.

Your best ally in the prevention of health problems is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on vaccinations (starting from 6 to 20 weeks of age), worming (every 2-3 weeks until 6 months of age), feeding and the general health care of your dog. In addition to the training that occurs throughout the day during exercise and interaction with people, more formal training begins approximately 7-8 weeks of age.

Q?:?My 11-month-old Pug (male) cannot digest dog food and vomits the same. He just eats egg, milk and roti. I have tried various brands of dog food but the result is the same. He is a little overweight and snores. Also, let me know if Pugs have breathing problems. Please advise.
– Dr. Mansi S Chauhan, Bhavnagar

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Puppy owners, in particular, are aware of the heavy nutritional demands of the puppy as he grows and may be tempted to feed as much as he will eat. However, many dogs tend to overeat and this could have damaging consequences for your puppy. The extra food received is converted into fat and stored in the body. While a dog is still young and growing, his body will produce extra fat cells to store the excess fat and, once formed, these cells stay with him for life. This may make him prone to obesity as an adult. Overfeeding of rapidly growing puppies can also cause a number of skeletal deformities in large breeds as well as other health problems. It is therefore important to monitor his general condition and record his weight regularly on the ‘Puppy Growth Chart’ to check that he is growing at a rate appropriate to the breed. If he has more than a moderate covering of fat over his ribs he may be getting too fat. When you use a prepared pet food, the label on the packaging will provide a guideline as to how much to feed your dog and it is not necessary to add any calcium or protein supplements.

Dogs with short snouts (Brachycephalic breeds) like Pugs and Bulldogs aren’t able to breathe as efficiently as dogs with longer snouts. Their elongated soft palates tend to make a snoring sound when they inhale. And, the harder the dog breathes, the greater the swelling of the soft palate. Ask your veterinarian for advice if you are unsure about your growing pet condition.

Ask the expert..Sep-Oct 06

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask the expert..July-Aug 06

Q?:?What is your opinion on BARF diet? Or is commercial available dog food best for dogs?
–Bikram Suri, Gurgaon

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?BARF, a “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food” appear to follow the concept of feeding dogs naturally as they believe that dogs have been evolved to eat a carnivorous diet. The diet is based on feeding dogs as close to the prey model as possible. They believe that dogs are carnivorous (meat eaters) while vets and scientists are convinced that dogs are omnivorous (eat vegetarian and/or meat).

Traditionally, dogs have been fed table scraps and left to scavenge whatever food they can. However, the domestic dog has become elevated to near family-member status. Concurrent advances in the knowledge of canine nutrient requirements (NRC, 2003, AAFCO 2004) have resulted in sophisticated, balanced and nutritionally complete manufactured diets for dogs.

The manufacturers of pet foods are equally convinced that health and longevity are best achieved by feeding their nutritionally complete and balanced formulations. There is a general belief that the feeding of manufactured pet foods since their introduction in the 1950s has been associated with increased health and longevity throughout the pet population.

Q?:?Can dogs see in colour?

–?Ranganathan Menon, Secuderabad

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?It is not true that dogs can only see in black and white. Dogs are thought to have similar colour vision to humans who are red-green colour blind. They are better adapted for low light conditions and sensitive to movement. However, they can’t see the fine details as humans.

Q?:?My dog keeps searching and looking for dirt, whether it is the dustbin or on a walk he sniffs out the dirtiest things. I cannot understand his habit and am worried that he will catch an infection. Please let me know what measure to take to prevent infections.
–?Divyani, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?This type of behaviour may start after a change in the dog’s routine or lack of socialisation/exposure to environment or as result of boredom. If your pet has developed this habit, behavioural modification or training can help to correct this activity. One method is to distract your pet away from these things using toys or showing element of surprise (squirt him with water/make unpleasant distracting noise/throw a toy near him). Giving your dog much more physical and mental stimulation prior to leaving him will quickly reduce the possibility of him looking for such things.

This can easily be achieved by playing in and around the house, hiding toys and food treats. Learning in the ‘doggy world’ consists of trying out new behaviours and seeing what happens as a consequence of this behaviour. If the behaviour (action) is followed by a good consequence, this behaviour will be repeated. One example could be begging at the table which is rewarded by getting food. If the behaviour (e.g. the begging) is, however, followed by a negative consequence (in this case, no food given), the behaviour will eventually be stopped. Effective training should work on the same principle and should be a combination of information (what you want the dog to do), motivation (a reason for your dog to do it), and timing (when to reward a good action). If this behaviour persists, seek professional training for your pet. Lastly make sure that your pet is receiving complete and balanced pet food.

Q?:?What are the signs that show that my dog might not be well?
–Ritu Puri, Pune

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Signs of illness in dogs vary depending on the age of the dog, system affected, type and duration of illness etc, e.g., some dogs with simple fever continue to eat and play while some become lethargic and loose appetite. Therefore, regular visits to your vet for monitoring his health is essential in preventing and controlling serious ailments. To help you figure this out, here’s a partial list of signs worth reporting to your vet as soon as possible :

  • Collapse or convulsions.
  • Increased frequency of urination, increased amounts of urine produced, or difficulty in urination, urination in the house by a previously house-trained dog.
  • Greatly increased thirst and water intake.
  • Persistent cough or abnormal breathing.
  • Discharge from nostrils, eyes, ears etc.
  • Diarrhoea, constipation or vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours.
  • Loss of appetite for more than 24 hours.
  • Weakness or lethargy. Loosing body weight.
  • Swelling/lumps anywhere on body.
  • Lameness or a change in the way your pet walks or runs.
  • If your dog is in obvious discomfort. Persistent head shaking, excessive scratching, pawing at ears, or rubbing his hindquarters along the ground may be signs of distress.

Ask the Expert / May-June 2006

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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia

Q : My Dog MnM was given Coronavirus booster, within half an hour, he was vomiting and became extremely lethargic. After 2 hours, he suddenly began to suffer from itching and a violent allergic reaction set in all over his body. His vet advised me to bring him in immediately for another injection. The reaction subsided in a couple of hours but the facial oedema left him only after 24 hours. Please guide what to do when the next Coronavirus booster is due. – Nanda Anil

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Dogs are very susceptible to certain infectious diseases, especially canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and rabies. Combined vaccination (all in one) against all these diseases as well as kennel cough, corona viral gastro-enteritis etc has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. The initial vaccination series consists of one injection of a combined vaccine (multivalent) given at 6 to 8 weeks of age or about 2 weeks after weaning. Boosters are given twice at 3-4-week intervals until 16-20 weeks of age. Thereafter they require annual vaccinations. In most states, the first shot of rabies vaccine is given at 3 months of age. These booster injections not only help maintain his immunity, but they also provide a good opportunity for your veterinarian to carry out a full health check.

Adverse reactions to vaccines in dogs are very uncommon. However, some dogs may develop allergies/adverse reaction to proteins/ chemicals present in a vaccine and such dogs generally show signs immediately (or after few hours) after injections. An adverse reaction to a vaccine or drug is managed by avoiding the offending protein (allergen). Fortunately, most of these signs are reversible with immediate medical intervention. Therefore I suggest getting his booster vaccination done where such facilities are available to handle adverse reactions and make sure that such vaccination reactions are recorded in the vaccination certificate/medical record also.

Q : My dog Ruby has been diagnosed to have symptoms of false pregnancy. Please tell me about this condition, and what should I do? – Antara, Mumbai

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Phantom or false pregnancy are not uncommon in unneutered female dogs and occurs generally about 70-80 days after the start of her season. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include, some or all of the following: reluctance to eat, nest making, nursing or guarding inanimate objects (toy, etc), swollen mammary glands, milk production, general distress, nervous signs including panting and breathlessness and change in temperament (some may snap). The good news is that Ruby should be back to normal in 2-3 weeks time, however, there are few things which you can do to help her. To reduce milk production, reduce water intake slightly and feed less carbohydrates and increase exercise. Remove the toys/objects, which she’s nursing, and remove her bed during the day so that she can’t nest. If the symptoms are severe and these actions don’t seem to help, then it may be necessary for your vet to give her some hormone/medical therapy in form of tablets or injections. Your vet might even suggest a mild sedative if she is very distressed. As she has already had one false pregnancy, she may more likely to have others and may experience more severe symptoms. I would suggest that you discuss with your vet the pros and cons of neutering (spaying) if you are not planning to breed from her.

Q : I have noticed my dog coughing and sneezing occasionally, and having a running nose. What could be the reasons? – Suparna Saha, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Cough, like fever, is merely a symptom of a disease. Dogs can cough for a variety of reasons including irritation from allergies, change in climate, inhaled gases and foreign bodies. Coughing can also result from inflammation of the upper or lower airways, which can be acute (e.g., kennel cough) or more chronic (e.g. bronchitis). Likewise, if cough develops with difficulty in breathing during exercise or walk, you should also consider heart problem as one of the causes. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is to get him examined. Your vet is the right person to decide what test needs to be done immediately. Your vet might prescribe bronchiodilators or anti-tussives to suppress cough symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q :We have 3 stray dogs who hang around our house and each time I step out with Misty and Bruno – my two Labs, they try to play with them. Can my dogs catch any diseases from them. Should I get the strays vaccinated? Please advise. – Nawal Verma, Ajmer

Dr. K.G. Umesh : To make your dogs feel more comfortable around their canine counterparts, start with dogs that you already know to be trustworthy. There is no harm allowing your pets to interact with these stray dogs as long as they are healthy, vaccinated and free from fleas and skin diseases. If you are unsure about their health and behaviour, I would suggest you to take the responsibility of providing complete preventive health care for these stray dogs. Your pets should always be leashed when you take them for a walk.

Ask the Expert..Mar-April 06

Q?:?I noticed my dog uncomfortable and rubbing his backside on the floor. Why does this problem occur and how do I solve it?
–?Sarika, Bangalore

Dr. Umesh?:?Considering the symptom, he seems to be suffering from anal sac disease. The anal sacs are located on either side of the anus and connected to anus by means of small canals or ducts. These sacs produce and store dark, foul smelling fluid (organs that a skunk has, to scare away its enemies). If the anal sac aren’t emptied properly, the fluid builds up, solidifies, and becomes infected or impacted causing irritation to the dog. Scooting or dragging his bottom on the floor could be a first sign of this problem. Therefore the treatment is to express (squeeze out) the sacs and clean out the solidified material. If anal sacs are infected or has developed abscess, antibiotics or surgical draining may be required. Regular examination or cleaning of anal sacs can prevent recurrence. Please take him to your vet for examination to identify underlying causes (anal sacs or rectal diseases or parasites).

Q?:?I want to keep a female dog. Please advise what care and management should be taken to prevent unwanted pregnancies?

Ask the expert..Jan-Feb 2006

Q?:?Jhoomer, my pup (2.5 months) is a Spitz, please do let me know the immediate and yearly vaccinations and deworming schedules. –?Sarita Kumar, Mumbai Dr. Umesh?:?Infectious diseases like Parvo, Rabies, Hepatitis and Distemper have been a significant cause of illness and death in dogs, especially young animals. Combined vaccination (all in one) against these and other diseases like Kennel cough, Leptospirosis etc has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. The vaccination will involve an initial course of injections followed by booster injections at various times 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 up. Generally, first vaccination is recommended from the age of 6 weeks and booster at 3-4 weeks interval until 16-20 weeks of age. This is followed by annual vaccination.

De-worming is an important aspect of looking after your dog. You will need to de-worm her regularly every 2-4 weeks until 6 months of age. For most adult dogs, it is sufficient to de-worm routinely every 3 months. There are many safe, effective products available which will eliminate all kinds of internal worms. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a suitable schedule and the treatment.

Q?:?I want my German Shepherd puppy to have very strong bones. How can I meet his calcium requirements? Also my Golden Retriever recently had a very bad tick problem. Is it safe to keep the two dogs together ? –?Deepak Deshmukh, Pune Dr. Umesh?:?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. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced breeder/pet owner to get the nutritional balance just right. Growing large breed puppies like yours are prone to develop skeletal problems by either overfeeding or underfeeding energy or/and calcium. The best way 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 dog’s nutritional requirements and they don’t require any food supplements including calcium. There are two main types of complete dog food: moist in cans or pouches and dry in packages. Both types can be made from meat, poultry, and/or grains, and provide balanced nutrition, with all the necessary nutrients including calcium. Your vet will advise right amount of calcium depending on what you feed. Successful control of ticks depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. Your veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for you. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Q?:?My dog Raja, a Great Dane, is 7 years old. Since last 10 days, I find him moving with difficulty. Their are no external signs of any injury on his leg. What do you think could be the possible reasons? –?Jayalakshmi, Chennai Dr. Umesh?:?Lameness or limping in senior large breeds like yours is common as a result of variety of skeletal, metabolic or degenerative diseases. It can affect joints, tendons or bones. This can also be the result of infection, malnutrition or trauma or it could simply be minor problem like “muscle pull.” Therefore, get him examined as early as possible. There are many safe medicines and physiotherapy available for management of joint or skeletal diseases in pets.

Q?:?I have a beautiful Cocker named Cocoa who is 11 years old. She has been bumping into a lot of objects, like furniture etc. Is she loosing her eyesight? What should we do? –?Vikram Chauhan, Gurgaon Dr. Umesh?:?Firstly, I suggest you to confirm with your vet whether she has developed blindness or some neurological problem. There are number of reasons including cataract (opacity of lens) for developing this clinical problem in a senior dog. Has this problem developed suddenly or over a period of time? Please take her to your vet who can help to find/rule-out underlying cause based on the onset of the problem, physical /neurological and eye examination. Based on the findings, he might also suggest further eye tests to confirm the cause. Sooner the visit, the better the chances of recovery.

Q?:?I have a 3-month-old Lab pup. She is having some problems over the skin. The skin is peeling off continuously. I have applied some medicines in consultation with doctor, but no improvement so far. Please help me.

S.P. Venugopalan

Dr. Umesh?:?Skin affections are very common in dogs. Ectoparasites like fleas, mites (mange), and bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) may account for majority of cases. For e.g., if fleas are present, they should be suspected as cause and aggressive flea control should be instituted to eliminate fleas from environment. You need to follow strict hygiene rules to prevent your dog from getting parasites/germs. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment.