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.)

Taking Care of the Elderly

Once you adopt a puppy, you are amazed at how fast he grows up and becomes your most trustworthy and lovable pal. Like people, pet also go through life stages of growth, maturity, and aging. But, it is a hard thing to accept that dog’s lifespan is much shorter. The passage from one stage to another is often blurred, and owners must be on guard to recognize the signs that their lil’ darling is getting old or geriatric. As our pet ages, changes in his behaviour and physical condition will occur, taking care and understanding the needs of your pet under medical supervision is most important.

Signs of aging

Rate of aging increases with body size. Giant breeds tend to age early, for their life expectancy is generally less than 10 years. Large and medium-sized breeds have a life expectancy of 11-14 years, and small breeds can live 15 years or more. On an average, a dog or cat in the age group of 7-10 years is a senior dog. The senior years of life are marked by a progressive decline in organ function, immunity and physical and mental abilities.

Early warning signs

As your dog ages, a number of degenerative changes may occur and this can affect his behaviour. Following are the signs of aging and age-related diseases:

  • Change in appetite
  • Decreased hearing and vision
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Loss of housetraining
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urine output
  • Difficulty in rising, walking or climbing stairs
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Persistent cough
  • New lumps or bumps
  • Change in sleep patterns

Preventative health care

While some age-related diseases may not be preventable, early detection and intervention is the key to successful management. Senior pets should undergo a thorough physical examination every 6 months, which will help in assessing your pet’s body condition and his dietary and exercise recommendations to help maintain his ideal body weight.

Dental care

Since dental disease can provide bacteria an entry way into your pet’s bloodstream, it can lead to infection elsewhere in the body. Hence, the teeth and gums of your pet should also be examined on a regular basis. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, plaque and tartar accumulation, red and swollen gums, difficulty in eating and tooth loss.

Dealing with overweight dog

Older pet are apt to gain weight as their body’s metabolism and activity level slows down. Therefore, food consumption must be balanced with the activity level of the pet.

Exercise for older dogs

Regular exercise is important to maintain bone strength, muscle tone and stamina. Daily walks and playing with your pet are excellent ways of promoting physical activity as well as enjoying their companionship. However, if your pet has difficulty standing up or walking, a degenerative joint disease, or arthritis, exercise may be a problem. Arthritis is a common problem in older dogs which often impairs their ability to stand or walk.

Grooming an older dog

Since your pet is getting older, it is important to know that skin problems may occur more often since the skin may be thinner, less elastic and does not repair itself as quickly. If it seems that your pet is losing more hair, it may be due to disease or because hair follicles are not as active as in the younger years. Grooming is an ideal time to look for external parasites as well as notice the general condition of the skin and especially the eyes, ears, mouth, paws, anus and genitalia. If you happen to notice any abnormal odours, discharges, swellings or lumps during grooming, report them immediately to your vet.

 

Health screening tests for senior pets

  • Complete blood count
  • Organ function and electrolyte profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Faecal exam for parasites
  • Chest, abdomen and hip X-rays
  • Dental exam

Our pets give us unconditional love and support and it becomes our moral duty to make their life comfortable in their older years. Most importantly, dogs thrive on love and in turn you will receive self-less love.

(Inputs from Dr. Afzal H Mohammed, Dr. S.M. Aravind Kumar and Dr. G.R. Baranidharan of The Ark, 24 hour veterinary clinic. Their emergency mobile no is 9841811445.)

Caring for overweight

Excess weight is a common problem for dogs. But, as with humans, it’s better and healthier for a dog to be of normal weight than to be overweight. A quick way to check 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.

How dogs become overweight

Dogs nearly always become overweight from eating more food than they need, and then not getting enough exercise. Calories in the food they eat, which aren’t used for daily activities, are stored as fat. Overeating may result from greediness, boredom, or overfeeding. Feeding leftovers or giving frequent snacks or treats often contributes to the excess weight problem. Over-fed puppies tend to become overweight dogs, and also have a greater risk of developing orthopaedic problems. If you feed your puppy correctly when he’s young, he’ll be less at risk of having weight problems later in his life. Occasionally, metabolic disorders can also make a dog overweight. If your veterinarian suspects a metabolic disorder is causing your dog to gain weight, he or she will test for that disorder.

Why your dog should lose weight

Being overweight is a real danger to your dog’s well being. It may shorten his life, here are some of the problems an overweight dog may come down with or aggravate:

  • Problems of movement, including arthritis, hip dysplasia, spinal disc problems and rupture of joint ligaments.
  • Decreased exercise tolerance.
  • Liver disease.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Surgical and anaesthetic risk.
  • Heat intolerance.
  • Poor coat and skin condition.
  • Lowered resistance to infectious diseases.
  • Respiratory disorders made worse.

Helping your dog lose weight

Weight loss for most dogs involves increased exercise and eating food with fewer calories. It’s usually easier to feed normal amounts of a low-calorie diet than to feed much smaller amounts of a regular diet. Plus, your dog will not feel as hungry. Your veterinarian can help with advice and special diets, but achieving success is up to you and other members of your family. It will take effort and commitment, but this is well worth it in terms of the quality of life, health and companionship your dog and you will enjoy. Dieting for dogs

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.)

Blood transfusion

Blood transfusion

As a result of the growth in veterinary speciality services, the demand for blood transfusion has risen dramatically. However, blood and blood products are not readily available in most of the places in our country. Even in places where it is practical, there is a considerable delay in getting the donor, collecting and then transfusing. Non-availability of canine blood group antigens makes it difficult to type the blood groups of donor and recipient and give appropriate blood transfusion. Further, there are no referral blood banks dealing with whole blood and blood components in our country to cater to the needs of practicing vets.

What options are available?

The pet owner should arrange to get a donor dog from their friends or neighbours in most of the places. In cities like Bombay and Chennai, donor clubs are coming up which is a good thing for pet owners. Is blood transfusion needed? Undoubtedly blood transfusion makes a difference between life and death in cases such as trauma, surgeries, and anaemia caused by ticks, immune mediated diseases, Coagulopathies, Hypoproteinemia, Haemophilia A, Von Willebrands disease and blood loss.

What is blood component therapy?

Once the blood has been collected, it can be kept and used in its natural state or can be converted into a variety of components. These blood components are red blood cells, platelet rich plasma, platelet concentrates, fresh plasma, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate. Double, triple and quadruple blood bags (a single whole blood collecting bag with various satellite bags) are used for producing and separating components within a sterile closed environment. Blood component production is highly desirable for several reasons, particularly maximisation of the yield of products from a single blood donation and ability to use the optional products (in high concentration) for specific diseases. The most common blood components in western countries are whole blood, packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate.

Do dog have blood groups?

The dog has eight different blood groups identified as day erylhracyte antigens (DEA). They are: DEA 1-1, DEA 1-2, DEA 3, DEA 4, DEA 5, DEA 6, DEA 7 and DEA 8. Transfusions of incompatible blood types DEA 1-1 and 1-2 can result in haemolysis (transfusion reaction). Transfusion reactions usually do not occur in canine patients unless he has been previously transfused with incompatible blood. The use of blood negative for DEA 1-1 and 1-2 (Universal donors) prevents the formation of antibodies against these determinants in the transfusion recipient. It is important to use these universal donors for patients who require multiple transfusion over a period exceeding 10 days. Those patients who receive single transfusion, can receive blood from all donors after conducting cross-match compatibility.

How to form a blood donor programme?

Recently, commercial canine blood banks and community voluntary donor programmes are coming up. Donor clubs can be formed at every city with the cooperation of vets and willing owners. Donor can be arranged by local vet hospital, clinics and breed clubs. We need to have a pool of 10-30 healthy large dogs who are temperamentally cool and can sit comfortably for a donation. For this, you have to screen a larger group of dogs (hundreds). Free vaccination, deworming, free food (reduced price) and free veterinary check ups can be given complementary for the blood donor clients.

Who are eligible as blood donors?

Regularly vaccinated dogs between 1 and 9 year age group and weighing atleast 50 pounds are eligible for blood donation. Donor should not be under any medication. In case of female donor, she should not be in oestrus.

How blood collection takes place?

In dogs, blood can be collected from the jugular, radial or saphenous veins under aseptic conditions, after clipping the hairs over the area. For blood collection, commercially available blood bags of 350 ml capacity having anticoagulant can be used in practice. According to the body weight of the donor, we can collect blood @ 10-15 ml/kg body weight. Repeated collection can be done in dogs at the interval of 3-4 weeks.

(Dr. A.P. Nambi, M.V.Sc. is a Professor of Referral Clinics at Tamil Nadu Veterinary & Animal Science University. He has over20 years of experience. He has won PZ Sharma Gold medal (national award) for canine medicine in 2002. His areas of interest include internal medicine and dermatology. He can be contacted at: 9380173660 or e-mail: nambi529@yahoo.com)

All about DHA

There has been a lot of awareness among pet owners about the diet of their pets. The use of nutraceuticals has proven improved quality of life in pets. DHA is one such anti-oxidant which is critical for the development of vision and the central nervous system in pets. With more and more pets living to a ripe old age, nutritional supplements for pets have become a fast growing business, as pet owners seek out health products for their furry friends that mimic those they use for themselves.

What are nutraceuticals?

The North American Veterinary Nutraceutical Council now defines a veterinary nutraceutical as a “non-drug substance that is produced in a purified or extracted form and administered orally to provide agents required for normal body structure and function with the intent of improving the health and well being of animals.”

Several years ago, veterinarians began using glucosamine and other nutritional supplements in the treatment of arthritis in the same way we use drugs or other pharmaceuticals. These “nutraceuticals” can make a huge difference in the long-term mobility and comfort of both animals and people. Thereafter more studies were conducted in search of these elements (nutraceuticals) which improve the quality of life by being organ specific and that to specifically influence vital organs. These are Taurine, Carnitine and group of antioxidants namely antioxidants (DHA, EPA, Vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids). There is a lot of ongoing work on the effects of antioxidants like DHA, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), Vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids etc.

What is DHA?

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is natural Omega-3 fatty acid. It is a major structural component of the brain as well as the most abundant fatty acids in the brain. It plays a vital role in the development of the central nervous system and retinal function in young mammals.

Where is DHA found?

DHA is abundant in seafood and sea plant, but it is not found in terrestrial plant. We take DHA first from the milk of mothers and later from some food that we eat. Certain animals like cow or mice can convert precursor of DHA found in grass and seeds into DHA, but dogs and humans cannot do this efficiently so we have to include in their diet for immediate accessible form.

What does it do?

DHA is a major building block of the brain and is a critical element in the development of vision and the central nervous system.

Why does my puppy or kitten need it?

The primary source of DHA is milk from your puppy’s or kitten’s mother. New generation of puppy and kitten diets keep supplying this brain-building element long after weaning.

What are the sources of DHA?

Common dietary DHA sources include fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna and other seafood, eggs, and organ meat. In pet foods, sources of DHA include fish, fish meal and fish oil. Prior to weaning, puppies get DHA from their mothers. Mothers, both human and canine, transfer DHA from their body tissues to their offspring during pregnancy and lactation.

What are the advantages of DHA?

Nutritional experts recommend having a one-to-one ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids to maintain optimal mental and physical function, because that is the exact ratio of those fatty acids in the brain. These antioxidants seem to promote joint health, general well being and most interestingly, mental alertness in older individuals.

There is an excellent controlled study showing that feeding a diet enriched with DHA, EPS and other nutritional supplements results in a substantial and measurable improvement in young dogs’ and arresting the rapid ageing process in older dogs’ improving their memory. Again, it’s impossible to make specific recommendations, but it seems safe to say that we can help our pets by insuring an adequate intake of these antioxidants.

Further several studies have shown that enhanced levels of DHA help with brain and vision development. All the new generation of premium brands of pet food has an enhanced level of DHA. The inclusion of DHA into various brands of pet foods shows commitment to enhancing and enriching your pet’s life by pet food manufacturer.

To get your pet off to the best start in life, the enhanced level of DHA in puppies and kittens diets can now meet their potential for body and mind development.

Studies have also shown that female dogs fed a diet with a 5:1 Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio (enriched in Omega-3 fatty acids including DHA) produced larger litters with fewer stillbirths. In addition, their puppies weighed more at weaning compared with pups from female dogs fed diets lower in Omega-3 fatty acids.

(Dr. Umesh Karkare has been practicing small animal medicine in Mumbai for last 20 years. He got his degree of Master of Veterinary Science from Bombay Veterinary College (gold medallist). He is member of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS), USA and a representative in India for World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and Honorary Secretary of Federation of Small Animal Practitioners in India. Apart from the routine treatment, he advises the owner on general management of their pet, with special emphasis on pet nutrition. He has keen interest in nutritional management of the clinically ill patients. He can be contacted at 9820147546.)

Healthy skin from deep within

An easy, regular routine can ensure that your dog has a beautiful coat and a healthy skin. The most common complaint that veterinarians face in their daily practice is skin trouble! Dry, itchy skin, redness, sores, little bumps, pustules, falling hair, typical ‘doggy’ odour are some of the usual signs. Owners tend to give a lot of importance to their pets’ skin and coat condition mainly because skin rashes and falling hair affect the appearance of the dog. What few people realise is that the skin often shows the first signs of ill-health. This, the first article of this series, will focus on internal problems that manifest as skin disorders.

Diet for good health:

Your dog’s diet affects every aspect of his health including alertness, skeletal and muscular development and general vitality, but the first and most common sign of nutritional deficiency is a dry, itchy skin. Unfortunately, Indian dog owners are yet to wake up to the fact that feeding a good commercial pre-formulated dog food is best for the dogs. Only when your dog is on a 100% diet of a good pre-formulated dog food (without any addition of home-cooked food) can you be certain that he is getting all his nutritional requirements in the correct amount and proportion. It is important to understand that feeding an imbalanced diet will lead to serious health problems, some of which may become evident much later in the dog’s life, and are often difficult to treat, like joint disease. Consult your vet on a regular basis to determine the most suitable dog food formulation according to his growth and life stage. How does diet affect the dog’s skin and coat? Simply put, certain nutrients in the daily diet are essential for maintaining a healthy skin and coat, mainly essential fatty acids (e.g. linoleic acid), vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, calcium and biotin. Certain amino acids, the basic ‘building blocks’ of proteins, also play an important role in skin health.

Your next question may be that if your dog is on dog food alone, does he need additional supplementation? I usually do not recommend popularly prescribed supplementation of calcium + phosphorous + vitamin D. There is always a tendency to over supplement these minerals, resulting in some very serious, irreversible bone and joint defects. If you are feeding your dog on 100% dog food, your dog’s coat may still benefit from correct supplementation. Research done at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, UK, concluded that even dogs fed with 100% dog food show further improvement in skin and coat health when their diet is supplemented with certain nutrients. A good supplement enhances the coat softness and feel, increases coat gloss and helps in better coat scale.

Apart from diet, other internal factors also affect the condition of the dog’s skin and coat, which have been summarised in the form of a table.

Deworming do’s and don’ts:

A dog who is not dewormed regularly also suffers the same problems as a dog with nutritional deficiencies. Internal parasites ‘eat away’ certain nutrients from the dog’s digestive system. The deworming schedule that I recommend is once a month for pups up to the age of 7 months, every two months for pups between 7?and?12 months and thereafter, every three months. Dogs fed home-cooked food, especially meat, will need to be dewormed more frequently. It is best that you consult your vet for a deworming schedule specifically designed for your dog.

The ‘itch-scratch’ cycle:

The reason why skin conditions take so painfully long to treat, is because of the ‘itch-scratch’ cycle. Any of these conditions can make a dog feel ‘itchy’ dry skin, allergy, the presence of loose hair, ectoparasites (ticks, fleas, mange, etc). Every time the dog scratches, he causes mild to severe abrasions or scratches on his skin and also introduces infection-causing organisms into the layers of the skin. As these abrasions and scratches on the skin begin to heal by the process of granulation, it causes an intense itching sensation, which starts the whole vicious cycle all over again. Therefore, when treating any such skin condition, it often becomes essential to give the dog a good anti-histamine for a few days, only to break the ‘itch-scratch’ cycle and give the treatment enough time to start acting. It may become necessary to give an antibiotic. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your dog. A beautiful skin and healthy coat starts from inside. No amount of external applications with the best products can give a healthy lustre to an unhealthy dog.

Next issue: Maintaining the lustre, which focuses on bathing and grooming the correct way.

(Dr. Freya Javeri, BVSc & AH (Bombay Veterinary College), MVS (University of Melbourne, Australia) is a member of the prestigious Dog Writers’ Association of America. She was the former editor of Canine Review, the official publication of the Indian National Kennel Club. She is a qualified judge, with a diploma in dog judging from the Animal Care College, UK. She has been judging all-breed championship dog shows since ’98. She is currently practicing as a veterinary surgeon and animal behaviour consultant, specialising in small animals (dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets) with two clinics of her own in Ahmedabad. She can be contacted at 9824433227, email: dr.freyajaveri@yahoo.com)