Dog Health

Vaccination wonders

‘Prevention is better than cure’ is an age-old saying, which holds true even today. Vaccination can protect our canines from several life-threatening diseases. Here are a few viral diseases which can be ably prevented by proper vaccines:

Canine Parvoviral Enteritis : Present worldwide, this disease mostly occurs in breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores or wherever pups are reared and dogs congregate. Certain breeds like Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and English Springer Spaniels are reported to be at exceptional risk of severe disease. While the infection generally has no age predilection, the severest form of the disease occurs in pups aged 6-12 weeks of age, who may collapse in a “shock-like” state and die suddenly without enteric signs, after only a brief period of malaise.

Prevention : Although maternal antibodies confer protection to the new born pup, subsequent vaccination at 45 days of age is a must. A booster 21 days after primary vaccination is advisable followed by yearly vaccinations. However, control of parvoviral infections requires strict hygiene, isolation of affected pups and efficacious vaccines.

Canine Distemper (CD) : A dog contracts the disease by airborne and droplet exposure. The disease is Dog Healthworldwide in distribution and has no breed or sex predilection, though young animals are more susceptible. The disease is usually present in certain areas of India, especially the south. Contact with non-vaccinated carnivores increases the risk of the disease.

Prevention : Vaccination at 45 days of age with booster after 21 days and yearly vaccination subsequently can prevent CD. Also, avoid contact of your dog with stray animals.

Rabies : Unarguably the most talked about disease, the name comes to ones’ mind synonymously with dogs. And why not, it is extremely dangerous and transmissible to humans in whom, as in the case of dogs, it is 100% fatal. Although present worldwide certain countries like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Japan and parts of Scandinavia are free from rabies. In developing countries like ours, it is quite prevalent.

Prevention : Vaccination is a must!! Vaccinate at 12-14 weeks of age (and not before 3 months) followed by yearly vaccinations. Keep your dog on a tight leash if the stray dog population in your area is high. Even bites by animals such as cats, monkeys and rats are potentially hazardous. If bitten, consult your vet immediately.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis : This disease usually affects dogs under one year of age and has no breed or sex predilection. The virus primarily causes the inflammation of the liver and may also affect the eyes.

Prevention : Vaccination at 45 days of age with a booster 21 days later followed by yearly vaccinations.

Dog Health

Tick troubles – All you wanted to know about canine babesiosis

Come summers and all responsible pet parents are wary of ticks, which can become a major health hazard for our loving pooches. Here’s some info about babesiosis, a common tick-borne disease. Watch out for this disease and protect your four-legged friend from misery.

Canine babesiosis is a tick borne haemoprotozoan disease of domestic dogs widely prevalent in tropical and Dog Healthsubtropical regions of the world including India. The disease is characterized by erratic fever, malaise, anorexia, weight loss, unthriftiness and severe anaemia of haemolytic nature. Because of haemolysis, babesiosis can be a life threatening disease.

How babesiosis is caused?

The disease is caused by several species of Babesia mainly B. canis, B. gibsoni and B. vogeli. Babesia sp. are generally found inside the red blood cells (RBC) and individual RBC may contain single or multiple organisms. As many as seventeen species have been identified to infect the canines, of which B. canis and B. vogeli are of similar size, and are larger than B. gibsoni. In India, B. canis is more prevalent in southern regions of the country, whereas B. gibsoni is more prevalent in northern regions and in and around Delhi. However, several species and sub-species of Babesia i.e. B. canis rossi, B. odocoileis, B. microti, B. equi etc. have also been identified in different countries of the world which differ in their pathogenecity, leading to various grades of symptoms.

How babesiosis is transmitted?

Canine babesiosis is transmitted between dogs mainly by the brown dog ticks, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. The life-cycle of brown dog ticks is shown in the picture above. However, the disease is also transmitted through Haemophysalis or Dermacentor spp. Besides, it can also be transmitted from the infected mother to the puppy or through blood transfusion.

Which season babesia infection occurs?

The disease is occurring in tropical and subtropical regions of the world and is more common during summer and rainy seasons due to enhanced activity of the vectors (ticks) owing to favourable climate. But, the chronic cases can be encountered any time of the year. Stress can flare up the disease further. This disease is not breed-specific.

What are the symptoms of babesiosis?

The naturally occurring cases of babesiosis are manifested by a wide variety of clinical signs such as partial appetite/inappetance/anorexia, dehydration, fever/no fever/erratic fever, dullness/depression, diarrhoea/constipation, pale mucosa, ticks on body, hepatolmegaly, vomiting/nausea, splenomegaly, rapid thready pulse, nasal discharge, ataxia/CNS signs, distended abdomen/ascites, dysponea/labored breathing, yellow coloured urine/coffee coloured urine, emaciation/weight loss, occular discharge, oedema and death.

The disease occurs in per acute (severe), acute (moderate) or chronic (mild) forms. Dogs usually suffering from per acute form, are characterized by shock due to low blood pressure, deficiency of oxygen, extensive tissue damage, shock, coma or death following one day of complete loss of appetite and lethargy. Acute phase is characterized by anaemia due to destruction of RBC, enlargement of spleen and increased number of platelets. It may also be fatal in pups. Chronic phase is characterized by intermittent fever, partial loss of appetite, lethargy, depression and loss of weight. Sometimes a typical signs such as distension of abdomen due to fluid accumulation, ulcer, epileptic fits, pneumonia and cutanious manifestations are also seen.

How babesiosis can be cured?

The treatment of canine babesiosis is complicated by the wide variety of host factors and Babesia spp. with differing degrees of drug tolerance and susceptibility. Small Babesia species i.e. B. gibsoni is more refractory to treatment than B. canis. Severely anaemic dogs should receive oxygen therapy and whole blood transfusions in addition to specific antibabesial drug. Supportive therapy with poly-ionic isotonic fluids, blood transfusion, and hepatotropic tonics helps in recovery. Both diminazine aceturate and imidocarb are toxic drugs; therefore treatment of dog should be undertaken under the strict supervision of the competent veterinarians.

Why treatment failures occur?

  • Improper diagnosis at early stages of infection.
  • The small Babesia (B. gibsoni) is difficult to treat than B. canis. The same dose rate and schedule, which are effective against B. canis infection, is not enough to cure B. gibsoni infection due to its different morphological nature.
  • Different organ failures, which remain undiagnosed.
  • Drugs became unresponsive due to severe anaemia.
  • Concurrent infection of Ehrlichia canis, Trypanosoma evansi or Dirofileria immitis etc.

Although, the antibabesial drugs are easily available in market but the treatment of ailing dogs requires professional skill because of many complications and should therefore be undertaken under the advice and care of the competent veterinarian.

How babesiosis can be controlled?

  • Control of canine babesiosis is possible only with the control of tick population by spraying kennels and dipping/ spraying or bathing dogs at regular intervals.
  • Although, treated dogs clear infection, but remain sub-clinically infected and may be re-infected and serve as source for further spread of disease. Such dogs should never be used for blood transfusions because it can produce infection in recipient animals.
  • At present there is no effective vaccine available against B. gibsoni to prevent or control the infection, but B. canis infection can be controlled by using cell culture vaccines derived from exoantigens of B. canis.
  • Common acaricides such as amitraz (2 to 3 ml/litre), fiproil and pyrethrins can be used to control the vectors or ticks.

(Dr. Shubhamitra Chaudhuri has recently completed his M.V.Sc. Veterinary Medicine under the guidance of Dr. J. P. Varshney (B.V.Sc. & A.H.; M.V.Sc. (Medicine) and Ph.D. (Vet. Med.), retired principal scientist (veterinary medicine) and a renowned canine expert. Dr. Chaudhuri can be contacted at 09411222306 or email at while Dr. Vashney can be contacted at 9897224580 or email : at or

Dog Health

Is Your Dog suffering from Ehrlichiosis

Ticks are carriers of various canine diseases and ehrlichiosis is one of the most fatal diseases caused by them. The greatest challenge in battling ehrlichiosis is in detecting and accurately assessing the clinical signs.

Over the past several decades, ehrlichiosis has emerged as an important threat to dogs worldwide. During recent years, it has gained the reputation as “the AIDS of the canine world.” Dogs not only become clinically affected with ehrlichia or rickettsia but may also serve as a reservoir host.

What is ehrlichiosis?

Canine ehrlichiosis is tick-borne potentially fatal and enigmatic infectious rickettsial disease of dogs, prevalentDog Health in India since 1944. It is colloquially known as canine rickettsiosis, canine typhus, idiopathic haemorrhagic syndrome, canine haemorrhagic fever, tropical canine pancytopenia, Lahore canine fever, Nairobi bleeding disease or tracker dog disease in many parts of the world. Its ability to mimic other diseases and devastating effects makes canine ehrlichiosis a deadly disease. The disease often remains undiagnosed in naturally occurring cases in field owing to nonspecific symptoms, species variation, coand concurrent infections, etc. Hence, timely diagnosis in severely affected chronic cases is escaped leading to futile treatment.

What causes ehrlichiosis?

The disease is caused by obligate intracellular bacteria of genus Ehrlichia of the family Rickettsiacae. Three species of Ehrlichia viz. Ehrlichia canis, E. ewingii and E. platys have been reported in India. Ehrlichia canis, a small and pleomorphic organism that infects circulatory leukocytes, mainly monocytes, causes canine ehrlichiosis. The organism occurs either singly or in compact colonies or inclusions, termed morulae, in the cytoplasm of the infected cells. E. canis, E. ewingii and E. platys are considered strictly canine parasites.

How ehrlichiosis is transmitted?

Canine ehrlichiosis is transmitted between dogs by the brown dog ticks, Rhipicephalus sanguineus and possibly the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis. Ehrlichia infections have frequently been reported in dogs with simultaneous infections with Babesia, reflecting concurrent transmission of organisms from commonly infected reservoir ticks. Ehrlichia species can be transmitted by blood transfusion, so blood donors should be screened.

What are the symptoms of ehrlichiosis?

Naturally occurring canine ehrlichiosis is manifested by a wide variety of clinical signs. The greatest challenge in battling ehrlichiosis is in detecting and accurately assessing the clinical signs. The only consistent finding in canine ehrlichiosis is the inconsistency of clinical symptoms. Clinical signs in acute phase of the disease are transient, subtle and mild. Clinical signs mimic those caused by other diseases. Signs may appear 1-3 weeks after infection and often disappear within 2-4 weeks.

Acute phase : Mild depression, anorexia, lethargy, fever, and mild loss in body weight, lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly characterize acute phase. Despite significant thrombocytopenia, haemorrhagic diathesis usually does not occur. Also, ocular signs are not commonly seen at this stage. Whenever ocular signs are present, they involve nearly every structure of the eye (including conjunctivitis, conjunctival or iridal petechiae and echymoses, corneal oedema, hyphema, panuveitis, secondary glaucoma, retinal haemorrhage and detachment). The most frequently observed ocular signs in canine monocytic ehrlichiosis are anterior uveitis, retinal vascular engorgement and tortuosity, perivascular cuffing, diffuse retinitis, retinal haemorrhages and detachment. Clinical signs resolve without treatment in most cases and the dog enters into subclinical phase, which is asymptomatic. During acute phase, transient proteinuria without histologic evidence of glomerular disease has been observed.

Chronic phase : Dogs unable to eliminate infection enter into chronic phase that is characterized by weakness, depression, anorexia, vomiting, emaciation, pale mucosa, erratic fever, peripheral oedema especially of the hind limb and scrotum, and hepato- and splenomegaly. Haemorrhagic episodes (such as skin petechiae and ecchymoses, buccal haemorrhages, epistaxis, haematuria, haematochezia, haemetemesis and hyphema) are also seen in many cases. Interstitial pneumonia, arthritis, renal failure may also occur occasionally. Increased lung sounds on auscultation are attributable to pneumonic changes in the lungs that develop in canine ehrlichiosis or may reflect concurrent cardiopulmonary disease. Neurological signs (such as depression, ataxia, convulsions, cranial nerve deficit, and head tilt) are also seen in canine ehrlichiosis with or without concurrent babesiosis.

Large variations in clinical signs are due to a number of factors including differences in pathogenicity between strains of ehrlichia, breeds of dog, coinfection of ehrlichial species, concurrent infection with other organisms (such as babesia, trypanosoma, dirofiliaria) and/or immune status of the dog.

How ehrlichiosis can be cured?

Treatment of ailing dogs requires professional skill because of many complications and should therefore be undertaken under the advice and care of the competent veterinarian.

Tetracycline, doxycycline, chloramphenicol and imidocarb are the drug of choice and if given timely in appropriate dose schedule are beneficial. Supportive therapy with polyionic isotonic fluids, blood transfusion, and vitamin B complex hastens the recovery. Treatment of severe chronic form of ehrlichiosis is unrewarding in many cases particularly in severely pancytopenic dogs owing to uncontrolled haemorrhages and secondary infections.

For the arrest of haemorrhages during severe chronic phase, blood transfusion is undoubtedly a life saving measure of the first order.

How ehrlichiosis can be prevented?

Prevention of canine ehrlichiosis is possible only with treatment of vertebrate host. Tick population can be controlled by spraying kennels and dipping/ spraying or bathing dogs at an interval of 1-2 weeks, as vector transmission is probably the only means of spread under natural circumstances. Common acaricides such as amitraz, fiproil and pyrethrins are effective in controlling ticks. Long-term use of tetracycline or repository oxytetracycline has been used to prevent or control epizootics of ehrlichiosis. Longer therapy of 1-2 years duration has been recommended in endemic areas so that infected ticks die off. Despite success of the tetracycline in prevention of the ehrlichiosis, it does not seem practical owing to the possibility of future development of resistant strains of E. canis. There is no lasting immunity in case of E. canis infection following treatment. Treated dogs, cleared of infection, become susceptible to re-infection and clinical disease develops despite antibody titre. At present there is no effective anti E. canis vaccine for the prevention or control of canine ehrlichiosis. Because E. canis is not passed transovarially in the tick, it can be eliminated in the environment by tick control or by treatment of all dogs throughout a generation of ticks.

(Dr. J.P. Varshney, B.V.Sc. & A.H.; M.V.Sc (Medicine); and Ph.D. (Vet. Med.), has more than 40 years of clinical experience and has recently superannuated from the post of Principal Scientist (Veterinary Medicine), Division of Medicine, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, Bareilly. He is in receipt by numerous awards. He can be contacted at 9897224580 or email at

Canine worms: Invisible Intestinal Invaders

Canines are vulnerable to many infections and infestations, just because they are prone to it…sometimes because of their attitude (free-spirited) and sometimes because of our negligence. The most common is the canine worm, which should not be taken lightly as these dangerous parasites can cause irreparable health loss to our loving pooch, if not treated in time. Here are some useful insights about the same.

Worms worries…

Canines can become afflicted with several different types of intestinal parasites, commonly called “worms”.Dog Health Dog worms are very dangerous as they live inside our pooches’ body. They can prove fatal if proper diagnosis or treatment is not given in time.

There are at least five different types of dog worms or intestinal parasites which dog can fall prey to, which include Roundworm; Hookworm; Tapeworm; Whipworm; and Heartworm. The most prevalent worms are roundworms and tapeworms. Roundworm infestation can be quite high in puppies, whereas tapeworms may also be a problem for your canine, especially if he has fleas. Early detection is very important as they are not only dangerous to our canines but they can be transmitted to humans as well. Some of these worms can be invisible to the eye and may show little symptoms, so routine check-ups with your local veterinarian, becomes all the more necessary.


Roundworm is the most common infection in puppies and is transmitted through the ingestion of eggs. A female roundworm produces hundreds of thousands of eggs each day. These eggs are deposited in the soil. When your pet plays in contaminated soil and ingests worm eggs, they will hatch in your puppy’s intestine. It can also be transmitted from mother to puppies. The larva is then carried into your puppy’s lungs through the bloodstream. Once in the lungs, the larva will crawl up your pup’s windpipe and get swallowed. This will normally cause your puppy to gag or cough. Once the larva has been swallowed, they will live in your pups’ intestines and grow into adult roundworms. A severe infection of roundworm can cause an intestinal blockage, which in certain cases can lead to death also.


  • Stunted growth
  • Dull hair coat
  • Weight loss
  • Pot-bellied appearance


They are long segmented worms that are found in dog’s small intestine and are transmitted through fleas. Your dog may be susceptible to tapeworms if he is a hunting dog and has ingested a “game” – animal that has tapeworms. Likewise, your dog may get tapeworm if he ingests fleas, which has been on wildlife. The most common sign in infested dogs and cats is anal irritation associated with segments “crawling” on the area. Typically the owner sees motile tapeworms’ segments on the feces. One of the species of tapeworm – Echinococcus spp is of human health hazard.


  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nervousness
  • Severe itching around the anus
  • Vomiting


Hookworms are the worst parasite for pets as they feed on host’s blood. Infestation is usually via ingestion of the ova-female gamete; sometimes freshly hatched larva also penetrates into the skin of the dog and causes an infection. The adults lie in the small intestine and are attached to intestinal lining with hook like organ. After invading host’s body, larvae travel to the small intestine, mature, mate, and lay eggs. These eggs then pass into the soil through the dog’s feces, and again while coming in contact with the infectious soil or objects, the worms get transmitted to pets and human as well, thus continuing the infection cycle.


  • Life threatening blood loss in puppies
  • Anemia
  • Diarrhea
  • Diminished strength and vitality
  • Black stools
  • Blood in the stools

Caring cure…

If you see any symptoms that are mentioned above, take your pet to the vet immediately. Remember that if these worms are detected at an early stage you can stop them from being dangerous to your dog…as they say precaution is always better than cure.

(Dr Satbir Singh Josan, MVSc (Surgery) is in Small Animal Practice since last 10 years. He can be contacted at: 9810291453 or 0124-2367812.)

Do’s and don’ts…

  • Visit the vet for stool testing and dog worms, twice a year.
  • Root cause for tapeworms infection is fleas, so make sure that dog is flea protected.
  • Most puppies eat their feces, when not kept under watch and these feces carries worms, so make sure that your puppy does away with this bad habit.
  • Clean your dog’s area like their bed or kennel with a strong saltwater solution for prevention of the worms.
  • Exposing your dog to stray animals, birds and dead rodents, mouse can cause infection, so make sure that your dogs don’t get exposed to them.


Regular de-worming schedule should start at an age of 21 days and continue every month till the age of six months and then after every three months till the pet is alive.


Medicines for de-worming in dogs should be used only after consultation with your vet.

First aid for stray dogs

Whenever we spot an injured Stray dog on a street, we wish to help him but do not know how. Here are few first-aid tips for them.

Sometimes we see a stray dog in distress and do not know what to do. Inexperience of handling strays and the fear of attack may also deter you to treat them. Injured animals need to be handled with caution, so as to avoid any futher unpleasing situations like bite or attack. So, be extra careful while handling them. Here are a few first aid tips from Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD). (WSD has experiences of sterilising and immunising more than 30,000 stray dogs and impacting the lives of more than 90,000 through its on-site first aid and immunisation and adoption programmes.) These are only temporary measures, for permanent cure you must call a vet as soon as possible.
Burn injuries are very common and can occur from contact with direct heat, with chemical agents or from chewing electrical wires. In case of burn with heat, cool the burned area by applying cold water or ice pack for 20-30 minutes and then apply an anti-bacterial ointment. Do not apply greasy remedies like butter, oil etc as they will trap the heat and delay healing. In case of burn with chemicals, flush the skin with a large quantity of cool water. If burn substance contained alkali, follow with a rinse of equal parts vinegar and water. If acid caused burn, follow with a baking soda rinse. In case of burn with electrical wires, disconnect the wire from power source. Keep the dog warm and call the vet immediately.
Sudden violent vomiting and/or diarrhoea, fits, foaming at the mouth, staggering gait, collapse and coma are the signs of poisoning. These may also relate to other conditions not caused by poisoning. Give 2-3 teaspoons of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide every ten minutes repeated 3 times. Or place 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt at the back of the tongue, or dissolve one tablespoon in one cup of warm water. Try to delay absorption by giving milk, whipped egg whites, vegetable oil or water. Do not try to make the animal vomit.
Deep wound may cause profuse bleeding. Apply turmeric powder or tincture iodine. Place a clean cloth or gauze bandage over the wound and apply manual pressure until the bleeding stops. Get veterinary help immediately.
Shock can occur due to an accident, acute infection, haemorrhage, heart disease, heatstroke, diabetes, poisoning or an epileptic fit. The symptoms are low body temperature, pale gums, breathing difficulty and body may become stiff. Place the dog in a warm, quiet place and cover him with a blanket. Rub the paws and ears to improve the circulation. If there is bleeding, take steps to stop it.
Injury (spine, hip)
He needs medical care immediately, so without shaking his head, back and pelvis, shift him to the hospital. Avoid bending the spine. Use a flat board or blanket stretched tightly as stretcher.
The Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) is a government-recognised organisation carrying out a mass sterilisation-cum-vaccination programme for stray dogs in Mumbai. They can be contacted at 23733433, 23891070, Kennel: 23060275 or

Understanding canine Strokes

One day he’s normal. The next he’s walking funny, eating funny, or losing his balance. There’s a possibility he may have had a stroke. Once considered a rare occurrence, canine strokes are now more frequently diagnosed, thanks in part to advances in neuro-imaging. But don’t confuse the word “stroke” with “heat stroke.” Although related, a “stroke” involves the obstruction or rupture of blood vessels in the brain. And because the brain controls the entire body, a stroke can impact your dog in a number of ways.

What is a stroke?

Like in humans, a dog’s brain relies on a constant supply of blood, which brings oxygen and nutrients and removes waste products. A stroke interrupts this blood flow either through:

  • A blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain.
  • The bleeding of ruptured blood vessels (hemorrhage) in the brain.

Either instance may result in the death of brain tissue. In addition, dogs sometimes experience “mini strokes” where the blood flow is only cut off for a short amount of time, causing less immediate damage. However, this could be a warning sign that a larger stroke may be around the corner.

Identifying a stroke

Common signs may include a lack of recognition of sensory stimuli on one side of your dog’s brain, resulting in his eating out of only one side of his dish or turning his head to the wrong side when his name is called. He may also have head tilt or turn, loss of balance, blindness, circling, and falling. Of course, these signs may be indicators of other brain conditions, too. If you notice any of these symptoms, have your pet examined by your vet immediately for a proper diagnosis.

What causes canine strokes?

Common causes of strokes in dogs include thyroid conditions, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, arterial diseases, diabetes, blood clotting diseases, heart disease, high blood pressure, bleeding from a brain tumor, and bleeding from head trauma.

Treatment options

Once your dog has had a stroke, there is no specific treatment that can repair the damage done to his brain. Your vet will focus on identifying a potential cause for the stroke in an attempt to prevent another one from happening. Most dogs tend to recover within a few weeks of having a stroke, depending on the location where the stroke affected his brain and the severity of the stroke.

Donating the gift of life

Emergency never informs us, neither accident warns us; so it’s always better to be prepared for the worst, we cannot take chances with our pooches. Just imagine if our loving pooch is battling for life, and vet asks for blood transfusion. What next! Most of us are clueless. D&P always understands the medical needs of pet parents. Thus, here we bring some useful information about the nitty-gritty of blood donation and donor club.

Q?What are the health requisites for a dog to be a donor? Any 2-6-year-old healthy and friendly dog, with at least 25 kg body weight, free from ticks and other major diseases, who is up-to-date vaccinated and dewormed is medically fit for donation.

Q?Do vets sedate dogs, before donation? It’s not an indispensable part of donation. The sedation is required only when pooches seem to be frightened or hyperactive or aggressive. The sedatives are very mild and given for short duration only.

QWhat is the procedure, how’s it done? A small area of fur on the neck is clipped, to protect him/her from infection and to keep the blood contamination free. A 16 G needle, attached to the blood bag is inserted into the jugular vein to collect blood. After the blood collection, vets monitor the donor for sometime.

Q?How long it takes for donation? The whole process takes around 15-20 minutes to get successfully accomplished.

Q?How much blood can be donated and after how long a pooch can donate again? A healthy dog can donate about 350 ml of blood. Our furry companion can again donate blood after three months, since the last donation.

Q?Are there any side effects of blood donation? It’s a sheer myth; there are no side effects. But as they say precautions are always better than cure, so vets generally monitor dogs for 30 minutes before they leave. Dogs sometimes need emergency blood transfusion, if situation goes out of gear or in cases of nosebleeds, anemia, shock, trauma, or other blood disorders. Taking in account of practical dead ends in dog blood banking, several clubs, such as The Ark Dog Blood Donor Club have come up…to save God’s gift…we mean lives of our innocent pooches.

(Inputs from The Ark Veterinary Clinic, Adyar, Chennai, a 24-hour veterinary clinic. Their emergency number is – 9841811445. For more information and further details visit – or call – 044-24915402.)

Common Health Concerns

Your dog may live a long and healthy life, and never experience any health problems. However, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the more common canine health concerns so that if he should develop a problem, you will know what to do. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common complaints your dog may face, and what you can do about them.

Allergies: Dogs can be allergic to a variety of things including grass, flea bites and, less commonly, food. Allergies in dogs usually cause skin problems – although food allergies can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. If you see your dog scratching, licking, and biting himself, take him to your vet to diagnose the problem. Your vet can recommend treatment products and procedures, and you may also need to keep your dog away from allergy-causing substances.

Diarrhoea: There are two types of diarrhoea that dogs experience: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhoea strikes suddenly and doesn’t last long. It is often caused by food allergies, infection, or if your dog eats food from the garbage can. Acute diarrhoea can be managed without too much trouble. However, with diarrhoea, there is always a risk of dehydration, so you will have to ensure that your dog takes in enough water, even if he’s not eating. A day of fasting, followed by a special, bland diet should restore his health. Call your vet if the diarrhoea continues, or if your dog has a fever, abdominal pain, starts vomiting or seems depressed.

Chronic diarrhoea is a longer-term problem that is often caused by an illness such as Colitis or pancreatic problems. Your vet will need to diagnose the problem and direct the treatment.

Ear problems: Ear mites are parasites that live in the ear canals of dogs and they can cause a bacterial infection or inflammation. If your dog has ear mites, he may excessively shake or tilt his head. Your vet can easily diagnose ear mites – they leave behind a distinctive brown discharge – and prescribe anti-mite eardrops. You will have to administer the drops at home for four-to-six weeks. It takes some persistence to get rid of these parasites.

Ear infections are also common in dogs, especially dogs with floppy ears. If your dog has an ear infection, he may scratch his ears or shake his head. Treatment consists of a visit to your vet, who will clean out his ears with a special solution, and may prescribe antibiotics.

Fleas: Fleas can cause a range of health problems in both dogs and humans. They are difficult to spot and are usually diagnosed by the presence of flea dirt – black flakes or specks. Your dog may scratch and bite himself if he has fleas. However, even if he doesn’t scratch, the presence of fleas should still be of concern. To rid your dog of fleas, treatment will consist of a flea control program that includes treating his environment -your vet can recommend the appropriate flea control program.

Obesity: Excess weight creates a high risk for medical problems and can shorten a dog’s life. Obesity is probably the most common nutritional disease among adult dogs. It is estimated that 40% are overweight. A quick way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel his ribs with the flat of your hand. If you can only feel the ribs with difficulty, your dog probably needs to lose weight.

Occasionally, underlying health problems can make a dog overweight. But overfeeding and under exercising are much more common causes of excess weight. If your dog is overweight, take him to the vet to rule out any medical problems. Your vet will set a target weight for your dog and select a proper diet. You will also need to give your dog regular exercise.

Worms: They are a common problem for dogs and must be controlled for his safety and yours. The most common worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Although they may not seem to cause your dog problems, worms can stress his immune system, cause diarrhoea and vomiting, and, in rare cases, spread to people. A preventive program of regular worming should be a part of your dog’s health routine.

The good news is that there are more ways than ever to eliminate worms and other internal parasites, and your vet is your best resource for treatment. A thorough worming program includes flea control because fleas may carry tapeworm eggs. Some heartworm medications also prevent intestinal parasites.

The road to health

Don’t be overwhelmed by all of this information on common health concerns in dogs. Your dog may never experience any of these conditions – and he certainly won’t experience them all at once. However, if you are prepared, you will be better able to give your dog the care and attention he will need. After all, he deserves your help in achieving the best health possible because of all the warmth and companionship he brings to your life. And if your dog is healthier and happier, both of you will have more time together – and that makes it all worthwhile!

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.


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