Ask the Expert / Sep-Oct 2005

Q : I have a 2-year-old German Shepherd (male) who weighs around 20 kg. Although, I keep him fully vaccinated, duly de-wormed and well groomed, still he has a problem of itching and hair falling. He is also quite active but consumes a low diet (maximum two chapattis/75-100g of Pedigree food). I want him to gain more weight. Kindly guide me. –Tarun Kumar Goel, Delhi

Dr. Umesh : Itching (and hair fall) is most common sign associated with many skin affections. Ectoparasites (fleas), allergies (Atopy), and bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) account for majority of cases. Please take your pet to your vet to rule in or rule out common causes based on history, examination, skin scraping, and allergy testing etc. Dogs with severe continuous itching should be evaluated for Scabies, flea allergy, Atopy (pollens allergy) and yeast infections etc. 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. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment. I would also like to point out that your dog is not receiving complete and balanced food. While he is on Pedigree, feeding home diet like meat/chapattis makes his food unbalanced. This could result in imbalance of some essential nutrients required for your dog. Hence, I suggest to feed a balanced and complete diet like Pedigree exclusively so that your dog not only enjoys eating but also show visible signs of health. I suggest to start him on Pedigree “Active” which is energy dense and should help him to put on weight as well as improve skin and coat condition. If your dog is still not putting on weight despite adequate intake of calories (even after 2 weeks of Pedigree Active feeding), I would advise you to get him examined by your vet to rule out medical conditions that cause weight loss/maldigestion.

Q : Scooby is a Great Dane who was proactive but has a changed behaviour since we shifted to our farmhouse. Earlier, he played and jumped all the time and was quite hyperactive, leaving no chance for me to rest. What should I do? –Jitaakash, Gurgaon

Dr. Rana : Moving can be stressful and disruptive for everyone involved – including your dog. There are, however, steps you can take to make the experience less traumatic. You could have made some arrangements before shifting, e.g., you could have taken your dog for a visit beforehand. Well, it is not too late to help your dog get settled in and accustomed to his new surroundings. Introduce him to all new things/ people/animals etc. over a period of time. Wait until your dog is comfortable with one room before introducing him to the next one. Make sure he knows where his things are – point out the location of your dog’s bed, toys, food, etc. so he knows where to find them. Don’t coddle your dog if he is stressed. It may just perpetuate the behaviour. Finally, make sure that throughout the day, you maintain a normal feeding and walking schedule for your dog. This will go a long way in reducing your dog’s and your stress level.

Q : I have a litter of 4 Pugs. One of the smallest, whom I have kept on liquefied puppy food along with goat milk, has developed a breathing trouble due to which food comes out of his nose. He also repeats this while nursed by his mother. I have even tried to feed him myself but still the trouble continues. Moreover, unlike his littermates, he curls and sleeps after meals. Kindly suggest the appropriate measures to control this. –Janis

Dr. Umesh : Some puppies often start regurgitating after solid food is instituted or during nursing. If one among four puppies is affected, congenital defects like cleft palate (improper closure in roof of the mouth) or megaoesophagus (enlarged food pipe) are suspected. Puppies who may regurgitate acutely may have ingested foreign body lodged in food pipe. Likewise inflamed airways due to aspiration of food/milk in windpipe could be a cause. Affected puppies fail to grow normally and become very weak. Please get him examined by your vet immediately before he develops complications. Q :We recently got a new pup home and my 3-year-old Golden Retriever is not happy about it. He growls at the new puppy and does not obey our commands. How can I help him to adjust with the new puppy? –Lila D’Souza, Mumbai

Dr. Rana : Whatever may be your reason to add another dog to the family, just be aware that it 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 less stressful : With the puppy in your lap and your older dog on a leash held by someone else, let the older dog sniff, lick and explore the puppy. A couple of minutes is more than enough time for this initial introduction. Remove the puppy from the room, then lavish your older dog with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppy onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Remove the puppy from the room, and again, give your older dog praise and attention. 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 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! Give your older dog some quiet time away from your puppy every once in a while. 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’.

Spitz Snowey often suffers from loose stool

Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets. Dr. 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 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 Spitz Snowey often suffers from loose stool. We give him homecooked food. He is 2.5 years old. Is this harmful and what are the remedies? –R N Nathan, Bangalore

Dr. Umesh : Diarrhoea is most common complaint in dogs caused by a number of factors including diet, infection, organ dysfunction (e.g., liver, kidney), stress, hypersensitivity and parasites. Acute diarrhoea is common and often needs only symptomatic treatment. However in chronic or recurrent cases, an accurate diagnosis is usually essential. If your dog appears happy and healthy, but have recurrent loose motions, introduce bland, non-spicy, easily digestible diet, low in fat. Food should be offered in 4-6 small feedings. If you are offering too much of milk, add water to it or stop it all together. Home-made diets vary with respect to quality, digestibility, nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete. I would suggest trying a commercial complete pet food like Pedigree Active for small breed, which helps your pet to get consistently good quality faeces. If diarrhoea does not clear within couple of days, seek your vet.

Q : I have a 2-year-old Labrador, who hardly wants to eat anything. I have to feed him forcibly at times. He has lost 5 kg weight and is 26 kg now. What should I do? –J. Dhariwal, Kolkata

Dr. Rana : It is extremely unusual to find a Labrador who is refusing food and most of the times we as pet owners are responsible for their plight! Let’s admit that we pamper them no-ends and do not realise that we are actually causing a lot of harm to them health-wise and by the time we realise, it’s too late and very difficult changing their finicky eating habits. You have been offering him new and tasty things, so he wants something different each time. Pay a visit to your vet and let him rule out if there is any health reason involved.

Q: My 5-year-old St Bernard cannot control his bladder. At night, he urinates on his own bed too. We let him out frequently but still it happens. We don’t see any other symptom of being unwell. Please advise. –Puneet Johar, Amritsar

Dr. Umesh : Dogs are very clean animals, and can be toilet trained effectively. If this behaviour is occurring in regular occasions, there can be number of reasons as to why!!

  • Has the pet got access to the outdoors?: Maybe his usual toilet area has been blocked off.
  • Is there an underlying medical cause? : Incontinence, urinary infection, bladder infection or stones. Your vet will be able to examine and diagnose these problems.
  • Is there an underlying behavioural cause? : Behavioural problems like submissive urination, stress, a breakdown in toilet training, territorial marking or separation anxiety. Once again, these behavioural problems can be modified effectively.

As there are so many causes, your vet may advise some tests on urine to rule out some medical causes. Treatment includes diet, drugs, behavioural modification and also neutering depending on underlying cause. It is important that the affected area like bed etc is cleaned promptly using appropriate cleaning solution to prevent him to mark this area as “Spot.”

Q : Cherry, my 5-year- old Doberman has bad breath? What to do? –Kavita Sahay, Mumbai

Dr. Umesh : Halitosis or bad breath is often result of dental or oral diseases. Gums inflammation and plaque both contribute to the unpleasant odour in the mouth. Most dogs over two years of age, who haven’t received regular dental care, have these dental problems. Tartar is basically the result of a build of invisible plaque on the teeth. Dry pet food (Pedigree) as well as chews such as Denta bone can reduce the amount of tartar accumulating on the teeth due to chewing action. However once tartar is formed, professional cleaning by a vet is necessary. If your dog allows you, it is extremely useful to regularly brush his teeth to prevent the dental disease. Bad breath can also arise from some internal diseases. Visit your vet for further info.

Q : What are the symptoms of heat stroke in a dog. What should one’s immediate actions be after recognising the same. –Gitanjali Sarkar, Jaipur

Dr. Rana : Heat stroke occurs in dogs exposed to a high environmental temperature and placed under stress. Old and young dogs, obese dogs, and dogs with heart or respiratory problems are at risk of developing heat stroke. The most frequently noticed signs are excessive panting, dry mouth, increased heart rate, vomiting and diarrhoea. Other signs include loss of consciousness, convulsions or muscle tremors and excessive salivation. Heat stroke can be associated with alterations of all organs and systems of the body and rectal temperature may go up to 105-108F. Pets can only cool down by panting, so make sure they have access to shade, proper shelter and water when outside. Lower his body temperature by immersing him in cold water or spraying him with cold water, before taking him to vet. Monitor rectal temperature as hypothermia can develop rapidly. Stop cooling him when temperature reaches 103F. Don’t attempt to “freeze” him with icepacks. Like wise, do not administer medicines like Crocin to reduce temperature. Take him to vet as early as possible. Remember to give them plenty of fresh and clean water, so they don’t become dehydrated in the warm weather. If you’re taking a trip in the car, take a large bottle of water and a bowl with you. On a scorching day, avoid exercising your pet in the midday heat and stick to early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler. Although your pet’s coat acts as protection from the sun’s rays, bald areas like the nose and ears can be susceptible to sunburn – white and pale coloured animals, thin-haired and recently clipped dogs are at a higher risk.

Ask the Expert/July-Aug 2005 | Dr. Pradeep Rana

Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.

Dr. 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 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 have a four and half year old Spitz (male). Three months back, he was hit on his left hind limb. He is limping since then. What should we do? He gets aggressive, our doctor has suggested mating for him? What should I do? -Adite Shinde, Mumbai

Dr. Rana : If your pet is still limping, then contact your vet for further examination since there could be number of causes for his limping like soft tissue injury, dislocation of the hip joint, ligament damage, etc. Treatment would depend on the diagnosis. We know that generally small breeds are aggressive by nature but you can definitely find him a mate and perhaps take the help of an animal handler for mating him. Good luck !

Q : Why do dogs snore? My 5-year-old Alsatian snores really loudly? Is he stressed or is he ill? Or is this just normal? He shares the room with me and I keep yelling at him to keep quiet! – Mohit Kapoor, Gurgaon

Dr. Umesh : Snoring could be physiological or pathological findings in dogs, therefore, I suggest you to visit your vet to rule out any obstructions, growth or diseases in upper airway.

Obese, senior large breed of dogs and short-nosed dogs are more prone to develop snoring. Likewise incorrect posture during sleep can also be a cause of snoring in dogs. Consult your vet if your dog is overweight and has any signs of upper airway disease.

Q : I have a German Shepherd aged 5 months. I would like to have information on their food, vaccines, training, infections and their remedies. -Clarence Menon, Bangalore

Dr. Rana : It would be practically impossible for me to give answer to all your queries due to limited space but I’ll be very brief. Regarding the food of your pet, it is important to understand that dogs nutrition needs are different and they need food which is developed specially for them. There are a number of commercial diets available for different age groups and weight. Vaccines start as early as 6-7 weeks of age and the schedule will depend on the prevailing diseases in your area and your vet would be your best guide in this matter. Training of dogs is best started by the age of 4-5 months and if you do not have any experience in training dogs, then you could take the help of a professional trainer or pick guidelines from a good dog training book. A German Shepherd could suffer from a number of infections like Parvo, Corona virus, Distemper, Leptospirosis, blood protozoan parasites, sarcoptic or demodectic mange, fungal skin infections, etc.

Q : I noticed a tick stuck on my hand. My dog Julia is 6-months-old female lab puppy. How should I prevent Julia from ticks? – Rakhi Dev, Mumbai

Dr. Umesh : 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. Flea and tick control products for adult dogs include a variety of drugs and chemicals available as collars, shampoos, sprays, dips, powders, long lasting topicals, and oral medications. There are two basic categories of flea/ticks control products:

Adulticides: These products kill adults fleas and insect growth regulators (IGRs)/insect development inhibitors (IDIs). These products prevent fleas from hatching or maturing. The veterinarian will choose a product that combines safety, efficacy, and ease of use for the client. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Environmental control: A complete flea and tick control programme also includes a thorough treatment of the pet’s environment. Places where dogs spend most of their time will have the greatest numbers of deposited eggs and newly emerged adult fleas and ticks. Thorough cleaning of the house and yard should precede any application of insecticides. It is always best to treat the dog and the environment on the same day. The use of these insecticides must be preceded by a thorough vacuuming; special attention should be paid to the areas under furniture, carpets, near pet bedding, and along moldings. A product containing an IGR and an adulticide should be used as well. Most products in India are available as liquid concentrate that needs to be diluted in water for use on dogs and environment. Make sure that other pets/dogs Julia frequently contacts/visits are free from fleas and ticks. Please visit your vet who can recommend a suitable and safe product for your puppy.

Q : Should I get Brownie, my one-year-old Doberman, neutered? Do dogs become fat and lazy after we get them neutered? – Mayank Verma, Ahemdabad

Dr. Rana : There are several health benefits to neutering. One of the most important concerns the prostate gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge over the course of the dog’s life. With age, it is likely to become uncomfortable, possibly being large enough to interfere with defecation. The prostate under the influence of testosterone is also predisposed to infection which is almost impossible to clear up without neutering. Neutering causes the prostate to shrink into insignificance thus preventing both prostatitis as well as the uncomfortable benign hyperplasia (enlargement) that occurs with aging. The only behaviour changes that are observed after neutering relate to behaviours influenced by male hormones. Playfulness, friendliness, and socialisation with humans are not changed. The behaviours that change are far less desirable. The interest in roaming is eliminated in 90% of neutered dogs. Aggressive behaviour against other male dogs is eliminated in 60% of neutered dogs. Urine marking is eliminated in 50% of neutered male dogs. Inappropriate mounting is eliminated in 70% of neutered dogs. Activity level and appetite do not change with neutering. However, if your pet tends to put on extra weight, then you can reduce the diet intake and increase the exercise level.

Ask the Expert/May-June 2005

Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.

Dr. 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 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 : Honey, my 3-year-old Golden retriever, is on dog food. Recently, she has become very picky and has stopped eating. But she loves her treats. Please suggest what should I do? – Anjali Sharma, Delhi

Dr. Umesh : Your dog’s feeding behaviour is not surprising. There are number of reasons for your dog to behave like this. For e.g., she may have fear for new food, previous bad experience with the food, poor palatability or simply, she may be a fussy eater. Please make sure that you are feeding recommended quantity of the food, as some dogs can self-regulate their intake when fed excessively. Any dietary change should be made slowly to avoid stomach upsets. Gradually introduce the food over a period of 5-7 days period by mixing very small amounts of the new diet with the old diet.

There are also ways of encouraging dogs to eat. For e.g., try heating up food to body temperature before feeding or dry food can be moistened by adding hot (not boiling) water. Offer the food to your pet when it is cool. Hand feed your pet for the first time and praise her when she eats. She has to be trained differently if she is a fussy eater. If your pet stops eating altogether, consult your vet for advise.

Q : What is the best way to take care of a 4-6-weeks-old German Shepherd puppy? Please give information regarding food, nutrition and growth requirements. – Naveen, Darjeeling

Dr. Rana : Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a dog’s life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy. I recommend a branded food, specifically made for puppies. This should be fed until your German Shepherd is about 18 months of age. I also recommend that you only buy food which has the AAFCO certification. Divide the day’s recommended quantity into 4-5 helpings.

Table foods are not advisable because they are generally very tasty, dogs will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced dog food affecting their growth and health. We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet. However, most dogs actually prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them. Do not feel guilty if your dog is happy to just eat one food day after day, week after week.

Q : Can garlic prevent and control fleas on dog? – K Suresh, Hyderabad

Dr. Umesh : There are no evidence-based scientific reports available on efficacy of garlic (either topical or oral) on fleas. Therefore I cannot predict its efficacy and safety for controlling fleas. It is unlikely to be as effective as currently available approved anti-flea products. However, there are some health benefits to pets reported when fed at recommended level in the food. But, garlic can be toxic and unpalatable to dogs when fed excessively.

Q : My dog is 5 years old. How old is she in respect to human years? Does one year of a dog equal 7 human years? – Rohit Dewan, Delhi

Dr. Rana : Broadly, we say that 1 year of dog’s life is equal to 7 years of human life. However, the size of the breed does matter a lot in dictating the life expectancy since we rarely see a Great Dane over 10 years of age but can see lots of Lhasas who are 13-14 years plus. Hence a 5-year-old Apso would be approximately 36 years in human age while a 5-year-old Dane would be about 42 years!!

Q : I have a 2-year-old grandchild who loves to play with our Spaniel “Goldy”. While playing, Goldy often licks my grandson. Can Goldy transmit any disease/infection to him? What precautions should I take? – D’ Souza, Mumbai

Dr. Umesh : Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to a variety of diseases and conditions that are caused or exacerbated by poor hygiene. Some diseases found in dogs can be transferred to humans, so it is essential to insist on strict hygiene rules for the entire family. Because young children may not fully understand the importance of personal hygiene, a new puppy that has not yet been toilet trained poses a health risk for children crawling around. They can put their hands in dog faeces, and pick up certain skin infections or round worm eggs from the floor or ground. Young children are likely to have less resistance than adults and can pick up a mild or serious type illness. Likewise, saliva from infected dogs might transmit certain infections to susceptible babies. Discourage kissing or excessive licking.

Therefore regular vaccination, deworming and health check-up of Goldy is extremely important and you need to follow strict hygiene rules to prevent your dog from passing on germs and diseases to your child.

Q : I have a 4-year-old male Lhasa Apso. For the past few months, he sometimes wakes up at night and breathes deeply. He does the same thing when he barks loudly. I also feel that his front neck is swollen. His weight has increased suddenly by 3 kgs in the last one year. He has three small meals a day and the quantity is exactly as per the food instructions. He has minimum two walks daily. Kindly guide me. – H K Joshi, Ahmedabad

Dr. Rana : Your 4-year-old Lhasa Apso seems to have gained a lot of weight in the last 1 year and that would worry me as a vet. Is it a case of hypothyroidism or plain obesity? Well, run a test to check his thyroid! A lot would depend on this and the diet/exercise would have to be reviewed too. Regarding his sudden waking up with deep breathing at night is a problem commonly encountered by most of the Brachiocephalic breeds like Apsos, Tibetian Spaniels, Neopolitian Mastiffs etc, wherein there is involvement of enlarged soft palate partially blocking the airway. If the problem is severe, then one would have to surgically reduce the size of the soft palate. But if your pet inhales air really fast through his nose and his whole body gets stiff and the episode is over in less than a minute then it is definitely “reverse sneezing”.

Ask the Expert/Jan-Feb 2005

Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.

Dr. 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 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 : When I take my dog Diana, a 2 year old Labrador for playing in the park- she whines looking at the other dogs present. Does she want to meet them? Is she unhappy? She also eats grass, is that dangerous? Should I find out if the park has been sprayed with some fertilisers- which might be dangerous for her? – K Murthi, Bangalore

Dr. Rana : I am sure you know why a Labrador is such a popular breed worldwide. Being a very friendly, intelligent and energetic breed, they are very anxious to please everyone around and are very gentle and kind to children. They can play for hours without tiring. No wonder Diana wants to meet and play with the other dogs she meets in the park. It’s playtime for her and this behaviour is absolutely normal. But please be careful of what she eats. Yes fertilisers and pesticides can be life threatening!

Q : My 5 month old German Shepherd pup Buzo is very active. While sleeping too, he keeps moving his paws. Is he dreaming? First we were amused but now are getting concerned if he is getting proper rest? – Ritu, Mumbai

Dr. Umesh : Puppies spend most of their time sleeping. There is considerable motor activity during sleep and is characterised by jerking, tremor, crawling, scratching and occasional vocalisation. Scientists are not sure whether puppies can also dream but definitely show some electrical changes in their brain during sleep. Do not worry if this movement happens only during sleep. This type of movements generally disappears as age advances.

Whether he’s a new resident in your home or you’ve had him for some time, there are some things which you can do help him settle. Make sure that he has a comfortable bed which is placed away from draughty areas. Your puppy may be feeling separation anxiety from you as well as from his mum. The blanket from mum place (ask mum’s owner to put the blanket on his mum for couple of days before collecting it) would be a comfort for him. You can also try soft toy or soft light which may make him feel more settled. Consult your vet for further examination if this activity worsens.

Q : I have noticed white flakes on my dog-Sultan, when I brush his hair. Is it dandruff? Should I stop brushing? Please advice. – Kirti Somiya, Mumbai

Dr. Rana : Flaky skin can be caused due to a number of reasons like poor diet, stress, shampooing too often, etc and of course dandruff. Dandruff flakes are slightly different since they tend to be more oily and larger than the dry skin flakes. Since you have not mentioned about any foul smell or oily flakes, I gather it could easily be a nutritional cause. Try a commercially available petfood like Pedigree, which addresses nutritional needs.

Q : My blue colour Great Dane female is 20 days pregnant and the father is a light brown brindle coloured Dane. This is the first time that I have a pregnant dog at home so, I have the following queries: What should her feed be? What arrangements should I do for her delivery? What colour pups can I expect? Anything that you feel is important to know? – Rahul Gandhi, Sirsa, Haryana

Dr. Umesh : Make sure that your dog’s pregnancy is confirmed by tests available from your vet. Pregnancy ranges from 60-67 days and most deliver between 63 and 65 days.

Feeding: Her food intake should not be altered during first two-thirds of her pregnancy, i.e. until approximately 6 weeks of pregnancy, and if a complete food is being fed, there is no need to give additional vitamin or mineral supplements. After 6th week, food intake should be gradually increased by 15% until she is receiving 50-60% more food when she gives birth (whelps). At the height of lactation, approximately 3 weeks after whelping, food intake should be 2.5 to 3 times her normal maintenance food, particularly if she is feeding a large litter. A high energy complete prepared food like “Pedigree Active” fed in a number of small meals is ideal during late pregnancy and lactation.

Delivery arrangements : It is helpful to get her familiar with the place you want her to have the puppies well in advance of the whelping. Prior to the time of delivery, a whelping box (or a quite place at home) should be selected and placed in a secluded place such as a closet or a dark corner. The box or the selected place should be long enough for her to move around freely and the floor or the bottom of the box should be lined with several layers of newspaper or any disposable, absorbent safe bedding material. I suggest regular visits to your vet for monitoring her pregnancy and health. She would also require deworming around 45 days of pregnancy. It is difficult to predict colour of puppies and it is good to have some surprises. Please consult your vet to get more info on signs of whelping and puppy care.

Q : What age is a dog considered to be old? My dog Julie, a Golden Retriever, is 7+. Should I keep her on the same food and exercise? Should I take her to the doctor for regular check ups? – Vikas Rao, Hyderabad

Dr. Rana : Dogs reaching the final “one-third” of their lifespan undergo a variety of physical and metabolic changes that may cause them discomfort and change their behaviour. For example the senses — sight, hearing, taste and smell — are reduced. Metabolism slows and immunocompetence decreases. Muscle and bone mass decline, and arthritis may affect the joints. There is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and endocrine, renal and hepatic disorders. From now on, do take Julie for regular health checkups to your vet, at least once every 3-6 months so that they are able to catch any abnormality and treat it sooner than later.

by, Pedigree

Ask the Expert/Nov-Dec 2004

Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.

Dr. 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 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: Why do dogs sleep so much? What is the maximum number of hours should a dog sleep in a day? Do they sleep because they are bored?
– Sheetal Desai, Mumbai

Dr. Rana: The amount of sleep that an animal needs depends upon its age, size, activity level and breed of dog. Some very large breeds of dogs, like Saint Bernards, Mastiffs, often spend a great deal of their lives sleeping,perhaps up to sixteen or even eighteen hours a day. For this reason, they were often referred to as “mat dogs”. Great Danes probably only dream about sleeping! Comparatively smaller breeds like Apsos, Dachshunds , Jack Russel Terriers etc need less sleep .

Q: My 1.5 yrs GSD Sam eats his stool everyday. Please advice how to get rid of this habit?
-Shashidhar K, Bangalore

Dr. 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. Coprophagy can transmit parasites also.

One method of training is to walk your dog on an extending leash and purposely direct him towards some stools. As soon as he stoops to try to eat faeces, pull away the dog gently and effectively 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.

I suggest Professional training if it is associated with behavioural problem. Some advise products containing (or spraying) pepper or mustard on faeces are ethically questionable and feeding a slice of pineapple or peppermint oil may work in some dogs.

Q: I have a Golden Labrador male of age 5 years named Duke. He has frequent ear problems. Once you pick his ears, a foul smell comes. How do I take care of his ears on a regular basis?
– Nidhi Malhotra, Delhi

Dr. Rana: Duke appears to be suffering from an ear condition called Otitis Externa and he needs to be taken care of seriously before it gets chronic and make him very uncomfortable. Otitis Externa may be caused by organisms, foreign substances, or neoplasia entering the external ear canal, the middle ear and the eustachian tube. Water in the ear canal during bathing or swimming may be an important cause. Proliferation of bacterial organisms in the external ear canal can cause the animal great discomfort and predispose to Otitis media and Otitis Externa. Please consult your vet who will examine the ear and probably do a culture of the ear swab so as to find the causative organism. Daily or periodic cleaning of ear canals with normal saline or ceruminolytics in my opinion would be quiet helpful in the longer run.

Q: My 7 year doggie, a spitz – Joomki, has put on weight. I feed her twice a day. She has a bowl full of chicken stock with vegetables either with rice or roti in the morning and the evening. She also has her treats- biscuits and chew sticks. Her vet tells me that she is much over weight. How do I make her loose weight? Please help.
-Mrs Mukherjee, Kolkata

Dr. Umesh: What you have to remember is that the diet you feed your dog should be complete and balanced. This means, the balanced diet will meet all her required nutrients and energy demand, regardless of her life stage or life style. Home made diets, depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete.

If your dog is overweight, it will affect her life in many ways. She will be less likely to want to go out for a walk and exercise. Obese dogs are also prone to develop health problems like arthritis, heart problems, diabetes, etc.

As with people, any diet should ensure that any weight loss is in a steady manner, ensuring that dog does not become deficient in any nutrients and is not hungry. The best person to speak to is your vet, who will advise appropriate food and amount. A target weight should be set for your dog and in order for your dog to reach her ultimate target weight, she must be initially targeted to lose 15% of her current body weight. If more weight needs to be lost, then next target should be further 15% reduction and so on until his ideal weight has been achieved.

Your dog will also need to increase her exercise. Please contact your vet for further details including correct diet.

Q: My dog has wet streaks under his eyes. Are those tears?
-Jhanvi, Delhi
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Dr. Umesh: Epiphora is the term used to describe the overflow of tears, which is normal in some breeds of dogs but can be due to blocked tear ducts. The tear duct can become blocked for a number of reasons, such as infection, a foreign body or a hereditary defect. Your vet will be able to perform a simple test to determine if there is a tear drainage problem with the eye.

Tears are produced to lubricate the eyeball and keep it clean, and then are drained through the tear duct. If this is blocked, the tears build up and will tend to run down the cheeks of the dog, and this can result in rust coloured tear streak. The colour occurs from an antibacterial enzyme called lysozyme, which is normally present in body fluids such as tears and saliva.

Ask the experts..Sep-Oct 2004

Dr. R T Sharma (BVSc & AH) is the President of Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), President (North India) of Bharath Kennel Club (BKC) and President of Small Animal Veterinary Association (SAVA). He is running his own pet hospital and boarding shelter in Delhi. Mr. Suresh Sherawat is founder/master trainer of the Canine Village Dog Training & Research Center having a strong desire to bring professionalism and quality to the canine world. He has spent years in researching the different aspects of training for homes, military, police, industrial houses etc.

Q : My 1.5 year old Labrador refuses to get into the car, whenever we want to take him to the vet. What is the possible reason for this and what should we do to handle the situation?
Vinod Maitre, New Delhi

Mr. Sherawat : Mr. Maitre, it seems that you take the dog in a car only when you visit the vet. Just as you don’t like going to the dentist, the dog does not find going to the vet a pleasant experience. Overcome it by taking your dog for short joy rides in your car.

Q : I am planning to buy a female Alsatian puppy. Please advise how to choose the right one.
S Dave, Mumbai

Dr. Sharma : A female Alsatian (GSD) is more affectionate than a male. Before buying, you must see the parents and check their vaccination status. If you and your vet are satisfied with the health and pedigree of the pup, please go ahead. Best of luck!

Q : My 1year 5 month old 30 kg Labrador Scooby refuses to drink water. This might lead to some health problem. Please suggest a healthy diet for Scooby. For your reference, I give him rice/roti with chicken everyday for lunch and dinner. I give papaya, biscuits and chana for breakfast on alternate days while I feed him a bowl of milk in the evenings. Please help.
Julie Dhariwal, Kolkata

Dr. Sharma : Though you haven’t mentioned what other liquid diet you are giving to your pet, still less water intake indicates less exercise. Please take him out for a run or a long walk and add other liquids in his diet such as diluted milk or soup. On an average, 60-80 ml/kg body weight water is required to maintain the normal fluid level. If Scooby is healthy and active, don’t bother, just enjoy his company!

At 30 kgs, Scooby is slightly overweight. He needs more exercise and less fat in his diet. Try to add more fibres in his diet and add a supplement of multi-vitamins at least once a day. Another option is to put him on a balanced commercial food available in the market. May Scooby live a long life and share many happy moments with you.

Q : I live in a big farm house. Due to lot of robbery in our area, I want to keep a guard dog for my family protection and to patrol the farm house. What kind of breed should I go for?
Lavleen Gupta, Saharanpur, UP

Mr. Sherawat : Lavleen, since you are living in a big farm house and want to keep a dog for protection , I shall advise you to go for German Shepherd, Doberman or Rottweiler. These breeds are known for their guarding instincts. Take any of these breed from a reputed breeder. Check for breeders in dog magazines. Engage an experienced trainer to train them as guard dogs. I hope these breeds will prove to be perfect protection/guard dogs.

Q : What precautions should I take for preventing ticks. My dog Gucci suffers with “Tick Fever” from time to time, how can I prevent this ?
Sheetal Desai, Mumbai

Dr. Sharma : “Tick Fever” is a serious disease and lot of care should be taken if the dog gets it. “Tick Fever” leads to various other problems like anemia, kidney failure & even paralysis. The fact that Gucci suffers from “Tick Fever” again and again should be consulted by your vet. The best way to prevent “Tick Fever” is management of ticks by manually removing the ticks or by use of products like tick collars, shampoos, sprays which are available with your vet. So take good care of Gucci.

Q : I have a 4 year old Spitz. From the past few days, he has stopped taking his regular diet. Is this because he is lonely and needs a companion? Is mating safe for him?

Aditi Shende

Dr. Sharma : Dear Aditi, you already know the problem. Your Spitz is love-sick and needs a companion. This is absolutely normal at his age and in this season. He needs a companion, get him one and you will find a difference in his behaviour. Mating is a natural need and it is very safe with a domesticated female. Please go ahead and let him enjoy his life.

by, Pedigree

Ask the Expert/July-Aug 2004

Q : My 2-year-old pet is itching very badly and is not even able to sleep well. Please help.

Dr. Rana : Itching is the most common reason for pets visiting a veterinary clinic. There can be many reasons for itching, since itching in itself is not a disease, but only a symptom of an underlying cause. One will have to systematically approach to solve this problem. Check for fleas, ticks and lice. The saliva of a flea is very irritating to your petÕs skin, causing skin infection, superficial and deep bacterial infections. Skin mites too play a major role in giving your pet sleepless nights. Allergy to perfectly natural environmental components such as grass, plants or even to foods causes itching skin. Let your vet diagnose the cause and then treat the pet accordingly. A piece of advice – be patient for it may take a while for your vet to find the cause.

Q : Why does my dog vomit whenever I take him in a car?

Dr. Rana : Vomiting and dribbling is a sign of motion sickness. This is quiet common in young pups. If you expose your pet to frequent and short car journeys, their balance mechanism evolves to cope with this type of motion. Sometimes, in stubborn car sick cases, you might have to give your pet an anti-vomiting pill.

Q : My dogÕs name is Jinny, who is a 9 month old Dalmatian male. Jinny gets aggressive with other dogs. How do I solve this problem?

Mr. Bhatt : The above problem shows that your dog is a dominant nature male and wants to show his superiority by showing aggression to other dogs. Also, at the age of 9 months, the male hormones starts producing, which naturally makes a dog more dominant. You need to establish proper control by training and simultaneously start socialising him with other dogs and animals

Q : My dog Sparkle, a 5 month old Springer Spaniel, obeys sit and stay commands but does not responds to ÔcomeÕ.

Mr. Bhatt : Come is the top command in training. Make your dog understand the command ÔcomeÕ and make your dog feel great by giving him a treat or a toy to play, every time he obeys it. This would help your dog to understand the meaning of ÔcomeÕ. Only once he will understand the come command, it is then that you can force him to come to you even when he is not willing.

Q : Does dry nose mean my dog has fever?

Dr. Rana : IÕve had patients coming with wet noses showing 106oF temperature while some, having dry nose showing perfectly normal temperature, so what does it means – NOTHING! The state of the nose depends upon what a dog is doing or has recently been doing as well as the climate. Sleeping dogs generally have dry noses and while exercising, their noses are usually wet. Wet nose is useful because scent molecules are trapped in moisture, enhancing the animals scenting ability. If the pet has fever, you should rather rely on symptoms like lower levels of energy and appetite rather than the nose.

Q : When I enter my house, my dog Commando, a German Shepard, greets me with a jump. How do I solve it?

Mr. Bhatt : This is a common problem with all dogs. Being a member of the pack, a dog gets excited with some expectations, seeing the members of the pack returning home. This habit starts when the dog best cheap laptops under 2000 dollars is a pup or 6-10 weeks of age. We encourage this habit by praising/showing affection to a pup. When the same pup grows, this becomes a problem. To solve this, surprise your dog by pushing him away effectively and at the same time giving him a treat with a sit command. In a few days time, your dog will understand to greet you with a ÔsitÕ command and expect a treat. Use this from day one when the pup comes home.

For query about your pet dog, please mark the letter as “Ask the experts” and post it to Dogs & Pups, 406, Sant Nagar, East of Kailash, New Delhi Ð110065 or e-mail at, marking the subject line as “Ask the experts”.