Life is Precious

It’s an alarming situation for many pet owners to hear their pet is affected with cancer. Seeing a lump or mass on the body of their pet, some of the pet owners neglect, some of them panic while a few even get rid of the pet. But many genuine pet lovers like to treat and manage the disease so as to improve their pet’s condition and lengthen their lifetime. Here’s a brief info on the basics of cancer and its management in dogs. Cancer is one of the major causes of non- accidental death in dogs. Prevalence of all cancer is estimated as 10% in dog’s population. Increased incidence of cancer in dogs in recent years could be due to increased life span of pets (incidence of cancer is high in old dogs). Before going into actuals of cancer, here are a few commonly used terms for better understanding of the disease?:

  • Tumour means a swelling – cancer is one cause of tumour.
  • Neoplasm is a type of tumour in which particular type of tissues/cells of the body multiply abnormally in uncontrolled manner.
  • Tumour/neoplasm are classified into benign and malignant.
  • Benign tumour is a slow growing mass which does not spreads to other parts of body.
  • Malignant tumour grows fast, invade adjacent tissues and spreads (metastasis) to other parts of body through blood and lymphatic flow. Malignant tumours are sometimes called cancer. Forty percent of a particular tumour has the chance to become malignant.

Cause of tumour

Normal genetic pattern in a cell is changed (mutated) by varied cancer causing agents (carcinogen) and become cancer cell. The cancer cell multiplies rapidly in uncontrollable manner to develop into cancer mass. The effect of some of the following carcinogenic agents accumulates over a long period and cause cancer in dogs.

  • Chemicals – pesticides, some medicine.
  • Radiation – X-rays, ultraviolet rays.
  • Virus – Feline leukaemia virus in cat.
  • Hormones – Estrogen in female dog predisposes to mammary tumour and testosterones in male dog predispose testicular tumour and prostrate tumour.
  • Genetic – inherited mutated genes.
  • Age – incidence is high in old dogs and in rare case, young dogs and pups also get affected.
  • Breed – Some breeds are prone to cancer e.g. Golden Retriever, Boxer, GSD etc.
  • Size – large and giant breed dogs are at a higher risk for bone tumour.

Symptoms of cancer

Many or a few of the following symptoms are seen in dogs affected with cancer?:

  • Abnormal swelling that persists or continues to grow.
  • Sores that do not heal.
  • Progressive weight loss.
  • Chronic loss of appetite.
  • Recurrent/prolonged bleeding or discharge from any natural orifice.
  • Offensive odour of secretions/exudates.
  • Difficulty in eating or swallowing.
  • Loss of stamina or reluctant to exercise.
  • Persistent/increasing lameness.
  • Laboured breathing.
  • Difficulty in urination/defecation.
  • Prolonged fever, anaemia, excess water/food consumption may occur in some types of cancer.

Most dogs in the early stages of cancer often appear normal without exhibiting any of the clinical signs of the disease. But, pet owners can observe their pet aging more rapidly or slowing down and less willing to engage in normal activity. Blood tests at this stage will indicate an increase in lactate and insulin levels in some types of cancer.

Interestingly, cancers of the ovaries and uterus are rare in dogs. This could be because most dogs do not reach the age at which these cancers become more common. Dogs do not have much lung cancer either, presumably because they do not smoke and have fewer occupational exposures to known carcinogens.

Colon and rectal cancer, the third most common tumour in humans, is extremely rare in dogs. This could be due to more rapid transit time of food through dog’s relatively short intestinal tract, more exercise than humans, and diet.

Cancer treatment

Goal of cancer treatment is to achieve a cure or at least remission of cancer mass and to improve the quality of life and increase survival time. Cancer is being treated by one or more combination of different following procedures:

  • Surgery is most common and effective treatment for localized or regional. It is usually combined with other treatment like chemotherapy for malignant tumour.
  • Chemotherapy (treating with drug) used for cancer distributed throughout the body and for metastatic tumour.
  • Radiation therapy for local or regional malignant tumour.
  • Other therapy like immunotherapy,?cryosurgery, radioisotope therapy, hyperthermia etc.

Nutritional management of cancer patient

Cancer cells in the body act differently to get their energy to grow. Tumour cells use glucose without using oxygen and get less energy and convert glucose into a byproduct called lactic acid, which is toxic to the body. The body has to convert the lactic acid back into glucose by using more energy. By doing so, the body uses a lot of energy for tumour cells to grow and get depleted. Tumour cell also use protein for its energy and make the animal lose weight. The only source of nutrition, the animal gets for its energy is fat, which is not used by the tumour cell. It is appropriate to add more of fat and less of carbohydrate in their ration, so as to starve the tumour cells and help the body to maintain its condition. The diet of the dog should contain 40% of fat, 40% of protein and 20% of carbohydrate. Apart from that, the food containing more than 2% omega3 fatty acid will help in slowing down the growth of tumour and to improve the health condition of the cancer patient.

Preventive measures for reducing the occurrence of cancer in dogs

  • Spaying before the first heat cycle. The greatest protection from spaying occurs if the dog is spayed before her first heat. The protective value of spaying drops steadily until age 2.5. If the female dog is spayed at or after age 2.5, the risk of getting mammary tumour is statistically not different from a female who was never spayed.
  • Neutering dogs with undescended testicles. Dogs with undescended testicles (i.e., the testicles do not properly migrate to the scrotum but remain in the body cavity) have a markedly higher risk than other dogs to develop this type of cancer. Dogs with inguinal hernias are also at increased risk. Obviously, neutering of dogs prevents the development of this type of cancer.
  • Limiting your dog’s exposure to flea and tick dips, asbestos, and tobacco smoke. The risk for getting nose cancer in long-nosed breeds increased with increasing number of packs of cigarettes smoked in the home.
  • Keeping dogs away from lawns, which have recently been sprayed with herbicide.
  • Do not spend a great deal of time in areas with high levels of electromagnetic fields.

(Dr R Jayaprakash, MVSc (Surgery), PhD, is the General Secretary of Small Animal Practitioners Association of Chennai (SAPAC) and the President – Federation of Small Animal Practitioners Association of India (FSAPAI). He can be contacted at JP Pet Specialty Hospital, Adyar, Chennai – 600 020, Phone: 044 24411909, Mobile: 09444385393.)

Skin care regimen for your K9

Skin is the largest organ of the body representing 15-25% of body weight. Rightly called “first line of defence,” it protects other body parts from weather extremities, ultra violet radiations and injuries, which makes skin care regimen all the more important. Here’s a piece of advice on the same.


A healthy skin truly represents dog’s good health condition. Cleanliness is one of the important factors to keep your dog’s skin healthy and intact, besides making him look good. Here are a few tips for dog skin care:

    • Feed proper diet as per dog’s requirement. Add vitamins- A, B, C, E and Brewers yeast in diet.
    • For dogs having dry skin, essential fatty acids should be fed additionally.
    • Avoid bathing frequently as it removes the natural oils present on the coat, which act as weather proofing agent.

Dogs sweat very less as they don’t have sufficient sweat glands. The dog’s dermal skin layer has two types of glands that produce fluids. The apocrine glands have two other functions in dogs – they help to seal the outer layer of the epidermis and they secrete pheromones that give dogs a distinctive body odour. The eccrine glands in the pads of the paws produce a watery secretion similar to human sweat.

Skin diseases

Skin problems arise from external as well as internal reasons like injury from foreign objects, nibbling teeth, scratching, external parasites, and internal infections or autoimmune diseases. The most common reasons for skin irritation are contact and inhalant allergies, which lead to serious problems like hot spots, hair loss and crusty lesions. Allergy is caused by release of histamines by body in its effort to protect from foreign agents. These histamines produce the itching sensation. Whenever you find your dog itching, contact your vet immediately.

Skin parasites

Mites, fleas and ticks are most common parasites of the skin. Mange is of two types, based on the causative agent – demodectic and sarcoptic. Mange mites live under the skin and cause irritation and hair loss. Some people believe that susceptibility to demodectic mange is inherited because the disease manifests in puppies also. But it’s not true because the mites never go to the foetus. It is only the physical transmission of the mites to new-born pups. Sarcoptic mange (also called scabies) causes severe itching and can infect dogs of all breeds. This mite lays eggs under the skin. Itching occurs commonly on the elbows, ears, armpits, chest and belly region. If red colour small pustules develop along with yellow crust on the skin, consult your vet immediately.

Similarly, ticks and fleas also cause severe problem to dogs. Some dogs become allergic to flea bites and fleas also act as vectors for tapeworms. Ticks are more difficult to tackle than fleas. They suck blood and also act as vector for various diseases.

Treatment

Shampoos and sprays are the most commonly used topical treatments. Shampoos are mainly of three types – cleansing, antiparasitic, and medicated. Cleansing shampoos remove dirt and excess oils from the coat. Antiparasitic shampoos are mostly used for ticks and fleas. Medicated shampoos include antimicrobial and antiseborrheic products. The most widely used antibacterial shampoos contain chlorhexidine or benzoyl peroxide. Ketocnazole and Miconazole shampoos are usual therapy for the treatment of Malassezia infections. Antiseborrheic shampoos mostly contain sulphur which is keratolytic and also have antiseptic properties. Sulphur is also recommended for scaly seborrhoea.

Before using a medicated shampoo, the pet should be washed properly with a cleansing shampoo and rinsed well. The medicated shampoo should be applied evenly to the hair coat after diluting it in water. The medicated shampoo should be left on the skin for 10 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly from the coat as shampoo residue is a common cause of irritant reactions.

In a nutshell, the skin of your pet requires continuous care, right from grooming to good nutrition and prevention to treatment. Don’t take skin problems lightly, consult your vet before the problem aggravates.

(Dr. Avinash Srivastava, M.V.Sc. (IVRI), PGDPM (Symbiosis) is Technical Manager (Livestock and Canine) at Vetnex. He can be contacted at 09350506830 or avinash.srivastava@rfcl.in)

Shooing away impairment.. the Buddy’s way

Let’s start with an inspiring case study of 2 months old Buddy, who won over his disability caused by spinal injury with his grit and apt vet’s care.
Bravo Buddy!
Buddy was 2 months old, Dachshund puppy, when he lost the use of his back legs in a freak accident, which broke his back. Buddy’s X-rays had revealed a vertebral fracture, which probably severed his spinal cord from thoraco lumbar junction. He had lost sensations in both his feet and could hardly move. Randeep – Buddy’s friend decided not to give up. After numerous hours on net we finally came to the decision that surgery at this stage was too late an option. The only thing we could try was a physical rehabilitation device that would give Buddy the chance to use his upper body to move around.
After getting inspiration from websites on designs of wheel chairs for dogs, we built the first prototype, but it failed. Nevertheless, we did not give up the dream that Buddy will walk again. And one day we succeeded in making a wheel chair that was light, mobile and which Buddy enjoyed. He ran to his heart’s content. And we could see his eyes full of love and appreciation.
As time flew by, Buddy walked for longer and longer on wheels, till one day when we decided to remove the support underneath his feet. But, he did not gain any strength back.  Then started the long process of physiotherapy. Daily massages, occasional swims and lots of love. By the end of third month, we had remodified his wheelchair to allow him to use his legs. Buddy did not disappoint us. He regained some strength in his left hind leg and started walking on three legs. Till now his physiotherapy is on and he is gaining strength each day. Each breath he takes is a testimony of the fact, “In love, do not give up!”
Buddy was fortunate to have parents who went out of their way to help him, and also fortune favored the brave heart Buddy, making him walk, play and run again. But every pooch is not lucky enough. Read on to get valuable info about the spinal injuries…it’s symptoms, causes and precutions.
The spinal cord along with the brain makes up the central nervous system. The spine is made up of the vertebrae, the spinal cord, the intervertebral disc and tendons, muscles and ligaments that hold all this together. Trauma to the spinal cord is not common and can be very devastating. It is most often associated with sudden impact injury, such as being hit by an automobile, gunshot or falling from a height. When the spine is injured, a vertebra may fracture or a disc may rupture. Sometimes the vertebrae are torn apart. In addition to trauma to the spine, the animal typically sustains injuries elsewhere on the body.
The most common cause of spinal injury by far is the dog being hit by an automobile. Certain breeds with short legs, like Dachshund, Corgis, Miniature Jack Russell and Fox Terriers are prone to disc problems that can result in mild to severe signs and may result in paralysis without any history of trauma.
Symptoms and signs
Spinal injuries have a progression of signs going from mild to total paralysis. Pain is the first sign, which is noticeable. The pet may not be willing to stand or in milder cases jump up onto furniture or use stairs. In mild cases, the pet may appear shaky, especially in the hindquarters. It may fall easily when turning corners.
Your pet may become weak in his hindquarters and have difficulty getting up. You may notice that your pet stands on the upper surface of his toes instead the pads. He may scuff his nails and wear them down so they bleed. As symptoms worsen, your pet may not be able to get up.
Right management
Cells of the spinal system have no ability to regenerate so that once cell death occurs, the damage becomes permanent. Therefore, it is very important to be careful, while handling an animal you suspect to have spinal damage. The spinal cord can be severely damaged at the time of the accident however sometimes the cord is uninjured. Nevertheless the support structure around it has been compromised and it becomes easy to damage the cord. It is therefore extremely important not to twist, bend or compress the injured spinal column. Prompt veterinary treatment may prevent paralysis and euthanasia for your pet.
Keep your animal as quiet as possible no matter the cause. For trauma cases, lift the pet supporting the injured spine so that as little movement as possible occurs at the injury site. Put small pets in a basket or a box. Larger dogs should be carried on a board or between several people. Under no circumstances a pet with suspected spinal injury should be allowed to jump or use stairs. Rush to your vet immediately.

Disability is the worst face of any form of sickness, mostly it occurs due to lack of proper treatment. And when our pet doggies are concerned, even a minor negligence can prove fatal.  Spinal injuries often cause irreparable losses and situation gets even worse, due to lack of knowledge. Here’s an  in-depth information about the same.

(Dr. Jaspreet S. Mauj, MVSc Surgery, runs the pet clinic ‘Vets for Pets’ in Ludhiana and can be contacted   at: 9815245692.)

Pooch fracture management

Like kids, naughty pooches are also prone to accidents. They need vigilance, all time; a small negligence can end up in a troublesome situation, viz bone fracture or sprain. God forbid! But if it occurs, one needs to have ample information and knowledge to handle the situation tactfully. Here’s a complete overview about the fracture management for pets. Pets have been an integral part of our society since time immemorial. Pets at home are wonderful companions, great stress busters and provide unsolicited love and affection. Keeping pets has gained immense popularity in the last decade. Hence, there has been an increased demand for advanced and specialized health care especially in the field of ‘Small Animal Orthopedics and Neurology.’

Numerous pets have been rendered lame or paraplegic for their entire lifetime either due to lack of expertise or facilities in this field. Compassionate pet owners are most eager to consult with specialists in this field to obtain the best possible treatment options for their ailing pets. Specialized small animal orthopedics and neurology services have now become a priority for pet owners.

Milestones… so far

Primary aim of fracture treatment is to restore anatomical shape of the fractured bone and to restore the function of the affected limb. Until the early fifties, treatment of fractures in pet animals was confined mainly to casts and splints, which did not prove successful in complex fractures, and resulted in fracture disease. Fracture disease is characterized by non-union/mal-union of fractures, osteoporosis, joint stiffness, limb deformity, arthritis and muscle wasting. In 1958, a study group of Swiss surgeons formed ‘The Association For The Study of Internal Fixation’ (AO/ASIF) and developed new techniques, devices and implants for treatment of fractures. The philosophy of the organization was “Life is movement-movement is life”. The aim of the AO technique is a rapid return to full function of the affected leg.

In the late sixties, veterinarians adapted the principles of the internal fixation group, made modifications better suited to the needs of animals, carried out research, developed new and versatile equipment and implants to produce maximal stability of fracture with minimal reaction to facilitate early and pain free return to full limb function and permitting full range of motion of the joints. The benefits of this technique include early return of normal limb function compared to conservative therapy; little or no pain at the fractured site compared to conservative therapy; and no limb deformity or lameness compared to conservative therapy.

The technique used for fracture management was based on the configuration of the fracture and the type of forces that needed to be counteracted to promote stability. The age temperament, health status of animal and owner compliance influence decisions on fracture management.

Medical boons for pooches

Dynamic compression plate (DCP): The dynamic compression plate developed by the association for the study of internal fixation probably represents one of the most innovative developments in orthopedic surgery in the last two decades (British Small Animal Veterinary Association). Combining the plate with an intra-medullary pin (placing a pin through the bone) increases the strength of the plate multifold. Specially devised ‘T’ plates are used to manage distal radial fractures (fractures of the end of radius bone), as they do not heal easily. External fixators (Ex-Fix) : Ex-Fix and intra-medullary pins are used in combination for management of open infected shaft fractures/comminuted fractures (broken into many pieces).

The ‘hanging limb method’ and the OBDNT (open but do not touch procedure) technique of external fixator application for fracture fixation fulfill the principles of minimally invasive orthopedic surgery and promotes biologic fracture healing. External fixators with stainless steel connecting rods and clamps (dogs weighing > 15 kg) or locally available epoxy (dogs weighing <15kg) as connecting column have been used with success. Healing times were reduced and complications were minimized.

A “tie-in” procedure combining the intramedullary pin and external fixator for management of complicated fractures of long bones.

The advantages of the External Fixators system include

  • Closed or minimally invasive open application.
  • Fracture alignment can be adjusted during or after surgery.
  • Fixation can be removed without performing major surgery.
  • Relatively affordable with many reusable components.
  • Indicated for highly comminuted shaft fractures, open infected fractures mandibular fractures, bone deformities.

Other useful techniques include?:

  • Tension band wiring technique for avulsion fractures of olecranon process of ulna, tibial tuberosity and calcaneus (fractures caused by pull of the muscles in the opposite direction).
  • Combination of intramedullary pin and cerclage wiring (when the length of the fracture exceeded twice the diameter of bone) in fractures of long bones.
  • Intramedullary pinning in combination with cross pinning for supra condylar (fractures occurring near the end) fractures of femur.

Curing common orthopedic disorders

  • Femoral head and neck ostectomy (removal of the head and neck of femur bone) and placement of a muscle flap in the defect has been used successfully as a salvage procedure in the management of painful chronic osteoarthritis of the hip joints which occur in severe cases of hip dysplasia. Clinical studies indicate that this procedure provides early and pain free weight bearing on operated limb and improved quality of life of the animal.
  • Nutritional bone disorders have been diagnosed early using biochemical and radiological evaluation and successfully managed. Imbalance in nutrition and overzealous supplementation with calcium, especially in rapidly growing giant breeds, is the primary reason.
  • Growth deformities in dogs (bow legs) have been successfully managed with removing a portion of the ulna bone and using a fat graft or by performing corrective bone surgeries using a bone plate or an external fixator system.
  • Correction of patellar luxation in dogs (knock knees) have been performed successfully.

(Dr Ayyappan with over 16 years of experience is a PhD and Associate Professor in veterinary surgery from Madras Veterinary College. He did a Clinical Postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, USA (2000-02). He specializes in small animal orthopedic surgery and neurology. He also completed the basic, advanced and special training in small animal orthopedic surgery at AO-International, Davos, Switzerland (1994,1995 and 1999). He can be contacted at: 9841249129/ 26475988; or email: jujups61@hotmail.com)

Tips for Arthiritis

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that affects the bones that make up the body’s joints. It causes the bones to rub together because of damage to the surrounding cartilage and tissues that would normally provide protection. And, it doesn’t just occur in human beings. Dogs, too, of any age, may suffer from it, particularly those older than 5 years. The most common types of canine arthritis are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Infectious Arthritis. None of us wish our dogs to suffer from arthritis. So, it’s good to know that if it happens, there are treatments available to ease the symptoms. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of arthritis, so that you are able to provide better comfort and care to your senior dog.

What causes arthritis?

Some dogs are pre-disposed to suffer from arthritis, for example:

  • Dogs who have suffered hip dysplasia, excessive strain on their joints, or previous injuries.
  • Older dogs, particularly large dogs aged 5 years and above, and smaller dogs aged 8 years and above.

However, not all dogs with the above conditions get arthritis. Some dogs – just like people – never suffer from arthritis at all. What are the symptoms?
If you think your dog may be experiencing the onset of arthritis, look for signs of stiffness and pain in the joints, which may result in:

  • Difficulty going up or downstairs, rising from a sit, and/or performing other movements that were formerly a part of your dog’s everyday life.
  • Limping.
  • Avoiding, becoming aggressive, and/or exhibiting pain when touched. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from arthritis, consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis. Although there is no cure, there is still much that you can do to help your aging friend enjoy his senior years in comfort.

How can I help ease my dog’s arthritic symptoms?

Controlled exercise: Although vigorous exercise will be painful for an athritic dog, exercise should not be avoided. However, it should be gentle, no-impact exercise. This kind of exercise actually helps decrease the symptoms because it keeps the joints moving.

Healthy weight: If your dog is overweight, this puts more pressure on his joints and his symptoms will be worse. Speak to your veterinarian about helping your dog feel more comfortable by putting him on a calorie-controlled diet. Your vet can help you determine the optimum weight for your dog.

Therapeutic massage: You can do this at home, or take your dog to a professional dog massage therapist. Either way, your dog will appreciate the relief a massage will bring. If you choose to do this yourself, concentrate on areas that may be especially painful and stiff, such as your dog’s joints, and knead these areas gently.

Comfort and care: Arthritis pain is aggravated by the cold, so keep your dog warm by adding an extra blanket or two to his bed, and keep him inside on damp, cold days.
Prescription and medication?: There are many medications that can help ease the pain of arthritis. The type of medication most suitable to your dog depends on the type of arthritis he has, and your veterinarian’s recommendation. Never give medication to your dog without consulting your vet.

Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many ways of helping your dog be more comfortable. And that means that your dog’s life needn’t be ruled by his arthritis. By following the above treatment and suggestions, you are giving your dog the help he needs to continue enjoy many of his favourite activities – whether it’s joining you on the couch or taking a short walk in the park – and that translates to more quality time for you and your senior dog.

Tips for pawfect routine check-up

Make your dog’s veterinary check-ups more comfortable As the importance of dogs as companions in human life increases, so does the emphasis on pet health care. Just like feeding, grooming, walking and caring, visiting the veterinarian becomes an important part of your pet’s health schedule, simply because prevention is better than cure, especially for this caring companion of yours.

Selecting the right veterinarian

A vet within close proximity of your house, so as to facilitate multiple visits for treatments or emergencies. A vet who makes most pet supplies, accessories and emergency medication available at hand. A vet with a good reputation for availability, ability and responsiveness, since it is rather frustrating to wait for a vet’s appointment when your pet is really sick and needs immediate attention.

When to visit the vet

Routine once-a-month health check-ups are a must for every household pet. If you have just acquired a new pet, you must take her to the vet immediately.

Tips for routine check up

Here are a few tips for pet owners about a routine visit to the vet?:

  • Always seek a prior appointment and/or make sure the vet is in the clinic before leaving with your pet.
  • Always make sure you are carrying along health card, vaccination card and other treatment record files of the pet.
  • A vet’s clinic is often, visited by pets suffering from common viral or bacterial diseases that can be easily passed on to your pet, so for safety, keep your pet in the car/vehicle till it’s your turn to go in.
  • Make it a habit to carry a well-fitting muzzle for your dog instead of using the one, which is at the vet’s clinic, since it has been obviously used on several other dogs and may be a carrier of bacteria or viruses.
  • If your pet is an unvaccinated pup and is visiting the vet for the first time, do not let him sniff, snoop or lick around the vet’s clinic since it is easy for the unvaccinated pup to catch a fatal virus. Preferably, keep the unvaccinated pup in your arms and do not keep him down except on the clean table.
  • One can never overlook the importance of history and evidence in vet’s practice. Simply because the patient cannot communicate and the vet has to rely on the history and clinical symptoms to reach a perfect diagnosis. As a pet owner, do not hesitate to give your vet the detailed history because sometimes even the silliest of the clues can provide the vet with a clue to arrive to a definitive diagnosis.
  • The simplest of the routine check-ups should include recording of pulse, temperature, respiration pattern auscultation and palpation of all superficial lymph nodes. An eye, ear and oral mucus check for anaemia and/or dirt or infection.
  • Routine check-ups will make your pet get used to handling by his vet. Pets who are brought to the clinic just once a year for the annual shots are more difficult to handle and uncomfortable even for performing simple routine operations like nail clippings or ear cleaning simply because they are not used to it. Therefore getting your pet used to this idea of grooming and being examined is a must.
  • Since the first impression is always a lasting impression in the memory of pups, try to make his first visit to the clinic a pleasant one. Avoid any injection pricks or painful procedures on the very first day, if possible.

(Dr Achina Joglekar, B V Sc & A H (BOM) is a private practitioner in Goa and has two clinics at Miramar and Calangute respectively. She can be contacted at 9326020834 / 9890697636.)

DO’s and DON’Ts in first aid

Preparing for a medical emergency involving your pet is always best accomplished before the event takes place. Dr. Shailesh Ingole guides you for important decisions about first aid and also when to take your pet quickly to a veterinary hospital. An awareness of various first aid measures can help the owners to save their pets’ valuable life. Let’s see how.

Abscess:

It is localised accumulation of pus which is caused by an infection introduced from bites or penetrating wounds. It may appear as a painful swelling or if ruptured, as a draining wound.

  • If ruptured, clean the wound with soap and water. Rinse well and pat dry.
  • If there is swelling, hot fomentation can be done for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat 3 to 4 times daily.
  • Get it examined by a veterinarian.
  • Do not attempt to open the abscess yourself.

Wound bandaging:

Bandages are used for various reasons i.e. to protect wounds from dirt, to discourage the pet from licking the wound, as support for sprains or to prevent motion etc. For all these reasons, proper application is important. First step in proper bandaging is careful cleaning of the wound. All dirt, dried blood should be washed with soap and water. Hair should be clipped and then patted dry.

  • After cleaning the wound, the contact layer is the first layer applied and it should be sterile, stay in close contact but should not stick the wound, should be absorbent and free of fibres.
  • After cleaning the wound, apply an antibiotic ointment and then place the contact layer.
  • After the contact layer, apply the second absorbent layer to hold the contact layer. This layer is usually a cotton material. It is important to use the proper size as the materials that are too narrow may cause a tourniquet effect if wound causes swelling. If materials are too wide then they are difficult to apply. Any wrinkles may cause the bandage to become uncomfortable for your pet.
  • Finally apply the outer layer i.e. porous adhesive tape or elastic tape. Do not pull elastic tapes beyond their limits as this will result in bandage failure. The tape should be in contact with the skin or hair at the bandage margins.
  • Bandages should be checked regularly for signs of swelling, odor, discoloration of skin, saturation of bandage etc and then should be changed. Draining wounds bandage should be changed every 3 to 4 hours, otherwise every 24 hours.

Insect bites :

Any insect can cause problems if they bite your pet. A bite causes swelling, redness and itching. Certain bites can cause swelling in the face.

  • Apply cold fomentation to the sting area.
  • To neutralize the acidic venom, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the sting area.
  • Do not administer any medications without contact-ing your veterinarian.

Bleeding:

Pets suffer blood loss as a result of trauma. If bleeding is severe or continuous, the animal may lose enough blood to cause death. Pet owners should know how to stop bleeding if their pet is injured.

  • Apply direct pressure by gently pressing gauze over the bleeding area, absorbing the blood and allowing it to clot. Do not disturb blood clots. If gauze is not available, then bare hand or finger can be used.
  • If there is severe bleeding wound on the foot or leg, gently elevate the leg so that the wound is above the level of the heart. This will slow down the bleeding and simultaneously apply direct pressure to maximise the use of elevation.
  • The pressure above and below the wound can also be applied along with direct pressure. The pressure above the wound will help to control arterial bleeding, whereas pressure below the wound will control the bleeding from veins.
  • Internal bleeding is a life threatening condition and is not visible on the outside. However, some of the external signs observed include pet becomes pale and pet is cool on legs, ears or tail. If any of these signs are evident, the pet should be immediately taken to the veterinary clinic.

Burns:

When heat, flame, chemicals or electricity causes injury, do the following:

  • Extinguish all flames.
  • For thermal or electrical burns, immediately apply cold water compresses to the site of injury, changing them frequently to keep the site cool. Transport your pet to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

(Dr. Shailesh D. Ingole is working as an Associate Professor at Bombay Veterinary College, Mumbai and practicing at Pets Care Centre, Mumbai. He can be reached at: Clinic: 24440486, Mobile: 9821097256, Resi: 28676080.)

Preventing your canine from heat stroke

Now that the summers are in, it has become crucial to take extra  care of our pets. Like humans, dogs can also suffer from heat stroke. Dr. Gautam Unny gives tips to prevent heat stoke in our canines.
We all try our best to combat summer hazards and we should give equal attention to our four-legged friends as they do not sweat and cool their bodies like us. Even a 10-minute lock up in a car on a sunny afternoon can be life threatening for them.
Case file
(Dona’s heat dilemma)
Dona is an eleven-year-old German Spitz who miraculously recovered from an acute attack of heat stroke. She was going to Saharanpur with her owner Col. Sharma, when she was left in the carfor about ten minutes. It was aday in August, when the temperatures were soaring and to add to the distress, the humidity was stifling. Col. Sharma, after about two hours drive felt that it was necessary for everybody in the car to take a break and therefore stopped the car under a shady tree and went to fetch some cold water for Dona. To ensure that she did not jump out of the carand follow him on the congested highway, he pulled up the windows.
To his utter dismay when he came back to the car, Dona lay practically unconscious, finding it difficult to breathe. He immediately poured cold water on her and fed her some of the ice cream he had also brought back with him. After some time, Dona did recover and the family then made a practically uneventful journey back home. During the journey she was shown to a vet who administered some injections to control her motion sickness. She however continued to throw up sporadically all through her journey. The subsequent day saw Dona refuse food and the frequency of vomiting increased. She could not even retain water and therefore Col. Sharma rushed her to our clinic.
Dona was running abnormally high temperature and all symptoms indicated that she had suffered from a heat stroke. She was required to undergo some blood tests but in the meantime, she was started on intravenous fluids to stabilise her. The results that followed left Col. Sharma totally flabbergasted! The Creatinine levels that indicate kidney trouble were grossly elevated and were at 7.2 (Normal 1.5 g/dl). What was astounding was the severity of the sudden damage to the kidneys.
Dona took a full month to recover, but not all dogs are as lucky. What has to be understood is that this problem can be totally circumvented by some proper planning.
How heat
stroke occurs
The brain regulates the monitoring of temperature so that the body temperature neither goes too far below or above normal and this is called homeostasis. The abnormally high rise in temperatures beyond physiological limits due to external factors like high temperature and humidity is called Hyperthermia. In a case of heat stroke, the animal has temperatures beyond 108 degrees Fahrenheit (102 is normal). At this stage, the animal collapses, has rapid breathing, the mucus membranes of the eye are brick red, could vomit or have loose motions. Some animals also have seizures. In the last stages of heat stroke, the dog respires slowly with deep breathing, and this is not a favourable prognostic sign.
Other problems associated with
heat stroke
The reason why some animals who recover from heat stroke get renal failure is that the body in a case of heat stroke suffers from a total circulatory shock. Adequate blood does not flow to the vital organs and the kidneys do not get adequate supply of blood for a short period. This is enough to cause them to get damaged. If an animal who has suffered from a heat stroke does not pass urine (anuria) or less urine (oliguria), then he should be rushed to a vet. If after treatment, the pet begins to pass urine, then the signs are favourable. Dogs who do not respond to treatment even after the administration of diuretics (drugs that enhance urination) may not recover.
Preventing heat stroke
So, what can the guardian do to prevent this potential complication?

  • Never leave a pet in a closed and ill-ventilated area where air circulation is low. A car with rolled up windows is one such place.
  • Provide cool and fresh water at all times.
  • On a long journey, take short breaks and again ensure adequate hydration of the pet.
  • The first sign that a pet is feeling too hot is when he pants too much. Remember, as dogs do not sweat too much they cannot cool themselves off as humans do. A cold water dousing will immediately lower the body temperature.
  • If at home, dip the entire pet in a tub of water or keep ice packs on his body.
  • Try and make him drink water but if he does not or throws up, get to the vet fast.
  • Emergencies do not come forewarned and therefore keep your vets mobile number handy.

The aim is to get the temperature back to normal in the shortest possible time and at the same time ensuring that it does not go far below normal. So, to ensure a happy summer just follow the tips mentioned above to keep your pet free of this potential threat.
(Dr. Gautam Unny is a gold medallist from the Madras Veterinary College and has been treating pets for over a decade now. He has also authored ‘A manual on dog care’ published by Rupa & Co. He can be contacted at 011-22153622 or 9810053451 at A-150, Anand Vihar, Delhi –110092.)   

GID: causes, treatment and prevention

GID is a common disease in dogs. But such problems can be avoided if you vaccinate your pet regularly. Dr. Hitesh Swali gives tips to take care your pet’s health.

Gastrointestinal diseases (GID) often occur in puppies till 6 months of age, although adults can also be affected to a variable percentage. The common symptoms of GID include frequent diarrhoea and vomiting.

It is utmost important to reach the underlying cause for the disease, some of which include:

  • Viral Bacterial
  • Parasitic
  • Diet
  • Environmental

Viral:

Viral Gastroenteritis is the most commonly occurring disease in puppies till 3 months. Of this, Canine Parvo Virus (CPV) and Canine Corona Virus (CCV) are mostly prevalent in puppies. Clinical signs include blood diarrhoea, vomiting, high temperature (103-105oF) and dehydration. This disease lasts for 3-5 days and requires extensive treatment. Treatment?:?Main aim in treating Viral Gastroenteritis is fluid therapy. Dogs suffering from this disease should be fed with lots of clean water. Fluid therapy should be done i/v or s/c to check dehydration. Puppies should be kept in isolation to prevent the disease spreading to other pups. Avoid giving food till diarrhoea and vomiting comes in control. Pups can be given ORS solution to check dehydration. Orally Metronidazole and broad spectrum antibiotics can be given along with anti-emetics such as Metaclopromide according to body weight till your vet can start his treatment.

Prevention?:?CPV and CCV can be prevented by regularly vaccinating the pups. Modified live virus and freeze dried vaccines such as Vanguard-5L, NOBIVAC DHPPiL available in the market should be administered to pups at 6-8 weeks of age after proper deworming has been done. Repeat booster vaccines every 21 days till 3 months of age and thereby annually.

Both male and female dogs should be vaccinated to help pass the passive immunity to the offsprings.

Bacterial:

Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli, Campylobacter are the common bacteria responsible for the diseases in dogs. Characteristic symptoms include vomiting, dysentery with lot of strain during passing stools. Fever is usually mild or absent. This usually happens during travelling or if there is a change in climatic conditions or for puppies who have been exposed to bore well water or have had sea water during picnics. Treatment?:?Usually dogs do respond very well to broad spectrum antibiotics and anti-diarrhoeal. Checking dehydration level is must. Examination of faeces should be done to rule out parasitic involvement.

Prevention?:?Preventing pups from drinking stagnated water is the best way. Pups like to drink water directly from the bathroom which should also be avoided. Carry home water along with you while travelling and during dog shows.

Internal parasites:

The most common round worm is a potential health hazard to humans, you must ensure that the dog is routinely dewormed as they can also act as an intermediate host to certain tape worms, that can pass to humans. In addition to round worms and tape worms, dogs can become infested with more serious intestinal hook worms and whip worms or by microscopic parasites that cause diarrhoea. Treatment?:?Regular deworming for puppies every month till 6 months of age and thereby every 2 months using broad spectrum dewormers such as Drontal plus @1 tablet per 10 kg body weight. Deworming should be done to breeding dogs prior to mating.

Prevention: Regular deworming and examination of stools should be done by the vet at regular intervals. Avoid feeding table scraps and half-cooked meat to pups.

Diet:

Diet plays an important role in the growth of the pup. Any change in diet can lead to lot of Gastroenteritis disorders. Avoid feeding pure milk to puppies. Orphan pups/recovering dogs from chronic diseases should be fed commercially available prescription diet for intestinal disease (for pups Royal Canin-V diet is prescribed).

Environmental:

Dogs and pups are very sensitive to any change in the climate. Owners should take care of pups during summer season and they should give them lots of clean water as summer diarrhoea is very common. Monsoon are the major worry for Bacillary Dysentery/Amoebiosis and Viral Gastroenteritis. Exotic breeds such as St. Bernard, Mastiffs and other giant breeds have lots of problem during summer. If you do spot any of the above symptoms, do contact your veterinarian immediately. Breeds such as Pugs, French Bull dogs, English Bull dogs undergo lot of stress during summers leading to summer diarrhoea and respiratory problems.

(Dr. Hitesh Swali, B.V.Sc & A.H. (Bom) is a veterinary physician and surgeon at Veterinary Dispensary & Antirabic Centre, Mumbai. He can be contacted at 9821120058 or 9821237566.)

Heart Matters

The dog looked obviously in discomfort, with his tongue hanging out, panting for breath. After a thorough examination, I told the owner, “Your dog has a heart problem.” Oh!, she said, sounding surprised, “You mean dogs have a heart?” I am not exaggerating, this is true and it happened 18 years ago, at a time when I had gone against convention to study cardiology in dogs. Ok, so maybe this particular client didn’t exactly have a brilliant IQ, but understanding of heart diseases in pets was at an astonishing low in those days. Things have changed now, and poeple don’t seem surprised when an ECG is suggested as part of a preoperative workup or when cardiac diseases are diagnosed in their pets.

Heart disease in dogs

One common question I encounter is do dogs get heart attacks? Heart attacks or myocardial infarcts are extremely rare in dogs. However, there are other heart diseases which are prevalent, depending on the breed, age and sex. The larger breeds commonly suffer from a condition affecting the heart muscle called ‘dilated cardiomyopathy’. In this condition, the heart muscles get progressively weaker till the pumping action of the heart is hampered, causing a build up or congestion of blood in the lungs or  abdomen. This condition ultimately leads to congestive heart failure and is generally seen in dogs above 4 years of age. In some breeds, this problem could be due to deficiency of carnitine, which is an amino acid found in meat. So, vegetarian dogs have a higher chance of being affected. In some dogs, the uptake of carnitine by the cardiac muscle is reduced, and they can be supplemented with carnitine powder in their diet. Special cardiac diets are available which incorporate all the ingredients needed for a dog with heart disease. The other common entity is called ‘valvular heart disease’. This is commonly seen in smaller breeds. Since this is an age related condition, it is most commonly seen in dogs over 7-years of age. In this condition, the heart valves undergo an age-related deterioration.

The valve leaflets curl up with age, so that when the heart pumps blood, part of it flows backward through the defective valve. The end result is the same- fluid gets built up in the lungs, ultimately causing heart failure.

Signs of heart disease

Unfortunately, symptoms of heart disease in dogs are insidious. The dogs slows down and gets tired after exercise or exertion. The owner often mistakes this for signs of normal ageing, or thinks that the pet is lazy and needs to be exercised more. This is followed by coughing, which is seen after excitement or exertion or at nights. The cardiac cough is a dry cough, and owners describe it as ‘the dog trying to clear his throat’. Breathlessness is seen for a prolonged period after exercise, and in advanced stages, even at rest. Sometimes the abdomen gets bloated due to filling up of fluid (called ascites). Swelling of lower legs (called oedema) may also be seen. If there are rhythm disturbances, the dog may have episodes of fainting. In chronic, advanced cases, there is weight loss. It is therefore very important for the owner to have a high index of suspicion. If these diseases are detected early, they can be managed better. Also the incidence of heart disease is very high- 70% of dogs above 7 years have heart problems.

Detection

An yearly cardiac examination for dogs over 7 years, which includes a physical examination, X-rays and electrocardiogram is advised. If signs of heart disease are noticed, contact your vet. If heart disease is diagnosed, diet modification, along with certain medications will be started. These will have to be continued throughout your pet’s life, with modifications done whenever necessary. So remember, timely intervention is the key to an early diagnosis of heart disease.

(Dr. Sangeeta Vengsarkar Shah (Ph : 24461748) has a specialisation in cardiology.)