Learn about common skin disorders

A dog’s skin is an indication of her overall health and hence forms a basic criterion while adopting a puppy. Here are a few common skin disorders our pets can suffer from.


Dr. Nandani Kumari

Dr. Nandani Kumari

Dr. Saroj Kumar Thakur

Dr. Saroj Kumar Thakur

Skin disorders are one of the most common health problems in dogs. These canine skin diseases are classified on the basis of first its causative agents, secondly  of being secondary or
primary or on the basis of acute, self-limiting to chronic or long lasting problems which require long lasting treatment.


General symptoms of skin infection in dog
Generalised  symptoms of skin infections include scratching, licking or chewing of skin, scabs, redness or inflammation, hot spots (one particular area where itching is intense), round scaly patches on the face and paws, dry flaky or otherwise irritated skin, rashes, lesions, drainage of bloods or pus, swelling, lumps or skin discoloration and rubbing face against furniture, etc.
Types of skin infections
1. Allergic Dermatosis (Eczematous dermatoses)
Allergic reactions may result due to various allergens. Eczema may be defined as an inflammatory reaction of the epidermis to certain exogenous of endogenous substances against which the cells are sensitised.
Causes: Chemicals or drugs like antibiotics and Sulphonamides, animal products like milk, meat of different animals and poultry, eggs, wheat corn or soy, flea bite, distemper virus and worms like ascarids, hook worm, tape worm, whip worm may sensitise the skin causing allergy (worm allergy). It can also be caused by pollen of several flowers, chlorinated water, soap solution, etc.
Symptoms: It includes itching, redness of the affected area and swelling either as diffused oedema or localised oedema of the superficial layer of the skin. Dry moist eczematous (an inflammatory condition of the skin attended with itching and the exudation) reactions. In chronic cases, lesions may become dry, thick, accompanied with constant itching and redness. In most cases, there may be exudation of serum and pus.
Treatment:  Your vet may prescribe Phenargan, Betnosole or Zincovit syrup. Consult your vet for dosage and treatment.


2. Canine atopic dermatitis (CAD)
Canine atopic dermatitis is an important hereditary (being passed from one generation to another) and chronic (an ailment persisting since a long time). It usually starts between 6 months and 3 years of age with some breeds of dog such as Golden Retriever starting at an earlier age.
Symptoms: Dogs with CAD are itchy, especially around the eyes, muzzle, ears and feet. Some of the allergens associated with CAD include pollens of tree, grasses and weeds as well as house dust mite. Flea allergy is commonly associated with CAD.
Treatment: Treatment includes avoidance of the offending allergens if possible, but for most dogs this is not practical or effective. Other treatments include antihistamines, steroids, cyclosporine and immunotherapy (a process in which allergens are injected to try to induce tolerance). Shampoos and medicated wipes might be used to prevent the severity of infection.


3. Immune mediated skin disorders and autoimmune diseases
Deficiency or overactivity of immune response might also be responsible for skin diseases.   Insufficient immune response is associated with secondary skin diseases like increased susceptibility to demodectic mange and recurrent skin infections such as Malassezia infection or bacterial infections. Pemphigus foliaceus is the most common autoimmune disease of dog. Other autoimmune diseases include bullous pemphigoid and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita etc.
Symptoms:  It includes blisters in the epidermis, which rapidly break to form crusts and erosions, most often affecting the face and ears initially, but in some cases spreading to the whole body. Marked hyperkeratosis (thickening of pads with scale) might be evident in paw pads.
Treatment: Azathropine and other drugs can be used as immunosuppressive agent. Keeping away the allergens and regular cleaning with shampoo as they need more of prophylactic treatment rather curative, is recommended.


Ringworm (Dermatomycosis)
Fungal in origin, it should be treated immediately to avoid transmission of the infection to other pets and people in the house. The dermatophytes have affinity for keratinised tissues, e.g. skin, hair and nails and hence they produce cutaneous reactions known as ringworm infection.
Causes: Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes, etc.
Symptoms: It includes inflammation, scaly patches and hair loss. The fungus generally affects the upper layer of skin. There may be little apparent/visible lesions, which may show alopecia (loss of hair), scaly or crusted appearance. Lesions are circular (ring like) and may be 1-4 mm in diameter. Periphery of the lesion is raised and the central part is depressed like a  thallus. Erythematous (reddish) patches along with stub of hairs can be seen within the lesion.
Treatment: Your vet may prescribe Grisovin/Grisofulfin (Glaxo), Idofulvin ointment, Leucos (Water and ether extract of leucos aspara)  and Tincture iodine application. Consult your vet for proper treatment.


It is a clinical condition which results in due to pus forming (pyogenic) bacterial infection of the skin. This is accumulation of pus within the skin.
Causes: Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, E.Coli, Pseudomonas and proteus are the common bacterial invaders.
Symptoms: The lesions vary according to nature and distribution of infection. Exudation (discharge from the lesion) of pus and serum can be seen. Formation of micro abscess which may create large pus filled cavities and sinuses are also visible. Ulceration is not uncommon. Alopecia, Erythema and scales are formed. Interdigital pyoderma is very much painful and may affect the walking.
Treatment: Cleaning of pyoderma (containing pus) lesion with topical antiseptic preparations like bovispray. Removal of dead tissue to facilitate drainage of pus and accumulating blood is also recommended.


Untitled-5Parasitic skin ailments
A lot many of ectoparasites (parasite living outside the body) are responsible for skin problems in canines. Of these, most common are Sarcoptes scabies, Demodex canis, Rhipiciphalus  sanguineus,  Dermacanter  andersoni and Ctenocephalus canis  (Dog Flea), etc. They also have varying but similar symptoms. Treatments vary according to causative agents.



(Nandani Kumari is a Ph D scholar at Department of A.G.B., R.V.C., B.A.U. while  Saroj Kumar Thakur is A.I.O., F.S.B., HOTWAR, Ranchi, Jharkhand.)


What causes depression in DOGS and how to HELP them ?

Dogs are strikingly similar to humans as far as emotions are concerned. Like humans, dogs too get depressed when things do not go as they wish. While, we can rationalise our feelings and seek a way out, our dogs are not so lucky…they need our love and care in such difficult times.



Dr Suranjan Sarkar

“My dog is not active, not eating much, not playing, always tries to be alone in the corner of room, she shows no interest when I call, I guess she must be very sick, doctor please cure her” – this is a type of statement when a sick dog is brought to my clinic. I then examine the dog and may find all his vital signs normal – temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and ECG – all appear just fine. Then why are these complaints becoming more and more common and why are these dogs withdrawn from their surroundings? That’s the time when I start talking to pet parents to understand the underlying problem. I ask them about their daily routine, their occupation, how their dog was brought home, who takes care of their dogs, when their dogs go outside and who plays with the doggy, etc, etc. Then I get to understand the problem – these dogs are suffering from depression.
It almost always begins like this – “My son/daughter used to take care of our doggie, now that they have shifted to other city for higher studies, there is nobody to take care of our dog. We don’t even take our dog out for nature call as we get it done in our toilet, so our dog stays indoors all the time without any playmate.” So these poor guys, who are social animals, get rightfully depressed.


What causes depression in dogs?
Dogs are social animals but in modern times they are very isolated. They are bred in kennels and their litter gets separated at an early age of 35 to 45 days. These pups live in a house with humans as their companions. Most houses have only one dog in their house, with both parents on job and children to school. In such cases, doggies are forcibly left alone during the day time for 6 to 8 hours. Even in the evening, family members become busy in their work. Children play with dogs in early childhood but later become busy with their studies and other forms of entertainment. Thus, ignorance, isolation and inability to express their feelings take a toll on dog’s life.


Depression signs to look out for?how to help
These signs are very similar to humans suffering from depression:
Appetite change: Some dogs, when depressed, may want to eat more and become obese. This is very common in Labradors living in apartments. They are retriever dogs and due to lack of exercise and boredom, they resort to eat more and become obese and lazy. On the other hand, there are some dogs who lose interest in food and eat less than before and become thinner.


Sleeping all day: This is a very common symptom. You may be around him and want to play with him but he shows no interest and sleeps all the time.


Lack of interest: Your dog may show lack of interest in normal activities which he used to like earlier, such as going out for a walk, playing with ball, etc.


Paw licking or chewing: Dogs chew their paw when left alone out of boredom and they make it a severe wound. This habit evolves into OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder. Even after repeated dressing and innumerable visit to vet clinic and application of anti allergic medicines, etc, the wound in foot pad or between the toes don’t go away because problem lies elsewhere.


Hiding: It is very common to find depressed dogs hiding deep under the bed where your hands can’t reach to fetch him. He wants to stay there so that nobody can disturb him.
All the above signs happen to be there in many medical conditions as well, so it’s better to take your dog to vet for thorough examination before you can declare him “depressed”.


(Dr Suranjan Sarkar runs Pluto Pet Clinic in Ranchi.)

What are Puppy Mills? How to STOP them?

Bringing home a pup is a dream come true for many pet parents. But, have you ever wondered if your pup is coming from an ethical breeder or from a puppy mill?


Often animal welfare organisations and activists talk of puppy mills mushrooming here and there. So, what are puppy mills?


Dr Amarnath Muthukrishnan

Dr Amarnath Muthukrishnan

Dogs’ apathy…
In puppy mills, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters.Since, it is more of a business, very little attention is given to the upkeep of animals. Dogs live in cramped cages, with no room to play or exercise. They are not given fresh food or water, have little or no veterinary care, and have little protection from weather. Sometimes, even the cleanliness is compromised, which means that they might end up living in unclean premises, with urine or faeces around.


Problems associates with pups from puppy mills…
Puppies coming from puppy mills are not healthy and can suffer from many problems. “Such puppies suffer from malnutrition as they are separated from mother as early as 25 days. Their immunity will be compromised as they lack mother’s feed after 25 days of age. Moreover, they tend to pick up all kinds of viral diseases live parvo, corona and helminthic diseases immediately when they are out from mothers care in such early age,” tells Dr Amarnath Muthukrishnan.
“Puppies in mills are found with bleeding or swollen paws, feet falling through the wire cages, severe tooth decay, ear infections, dehydration, and lesions on their eyes, which often lead to blindness,” he adds. Besides, it is very harmful for the mother dogs as well. “Involuntary removal of puppies from mother also makes the mother sick, as no puppies are there to suckle the milk produced by the mother and their mammary gland gets physiological swelling and they have painful teats for many days,” he adds.


Identifying pups from puppy mills…
But, how can pet parents know if he is buying a pup from a puppy mill? Dr Amarnath shares, “If your puppy has a poor body weight or does not wants to come near anyone in the shop or does not wants to be handled, beware, he might be from a puppy mill.” Other indicators include: lesser skull conformation on the breed’s standard; and thin boned puppies with positive for skin turgidity test or skin elasticity tests. “Besides, such puppies always ask for food to eat
(as they are mainly starved in cages),” he shares. “You never find healthy and heavy boned active puppies from puppy mills where they keep animals for sale in cages,” he adds. “It’s also common to find dogs in puppy mills with collars that have been fastened so tightly that they become embedded in a dog’s neck and must be carefully cut out,” adds Dr Amarnath.


Ethical breeding…
It is very important for the breeders to use ethical breeding practices. “In case of females, the right time is to breed on or after third season or estrus cycle while in case of males, ideal time is 14–16 months of age,” shares Dr Amarnath.


Pet parents can save their pets from unwanted litters. Ethically, male dog can be castrated on or after a year and female dog after a whelping is ideal. “Still medically, they can be removed at the age of five months and eight months respectively for males and females. If the pet parent can’t maintain the litter, it’s very much ethical to remove the reproductive organs as early as per medical age to prevent orphan puppies,” he says.


Laws in India…
Dog Breeding, Marketing and Sale Rules 2010, is yet to be notified into law by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. All persons who wish to breed their dogs are legally required to register their animals with the Animal Welfare Board of India as per the Stray Dog Control (Animal Birth Control) Rules, 2001 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.


(Dr Amarnath Muthukrishnan is a senior veterinary surgeon at Amulya Pet Specialty Clinic, Salem, Tamil Nadu).

find out how emotional contentment leads to MENTAL WELLNESS!

Mental wellness is emotional contentment and satisfaction or a state of persistent happiness. Mental distress in dogs and cats is caused by fear, anxiety and frustration, emotions that invariably lead to behavioural challenges. Here’s how to ensure mental wellness.


Dr. M.K Sharma

Dr. M.K Sharma

Physically, stress affects dogs and cats just as it does to us, causing a marked increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and nervous output. If the stress is chronic, the immune system can become depressed, leaving the body susceptible to a wide variety of diseases.


Promoting mental wellness in our pets means reducing stress in their lives as much as possible which in turn promote our life as well. It is done by ensuring that the emotional and physical needs of our pets are being met. Physical needs include ready access to food, water, and shelter, and the ability to eliminate when the need arises. Some important aspects for promoting wellness are:


  • Provide fresh food and water to your pet on a daily basis.
  • Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. Make a schedule for your pet and stick to it.
  • Daily walks, exercise sessions, play periods, and/or grooming sessions will all contribute to overall mental wellness and contentment of your pet while promoting physical vibrancy at the same time.
  • Catering to your pet ’s instinctive cravings will help prevent boredom and the stress that it causes. Provide enough variety, novelty, and interaction.
  • Be sure to properly establish a dominance hierarchy between you and your pet through proper training.
  • A houseful of visitors can be stressful to both dogs and cats, who of ten view the human visitors as territorial intruders. When you have guests at home, keep your pet in a quiet place.
  • Have your pets neutered. This is especially true for male dogs and cats, who can become quite stressed and frustrated if not allowed to roam, fight, and satisfy their territorial and sexual urges.
  • If your pet becomes highly stressed when travelling, consider hiring a pet sitter to take care of your pet at your home while you are away.
  • Pain, injury, and illness can cause havoc on a pet’s mental health. So prioritise your pet’s preventive health care programme and consult your
    vet regularly.


(Dr MK Sharma is veterinary officer at Government Veterinary Hospital, Pratapgarh, Rajasthan).

Uncover the mystery behind dogs eating grass

It is always good to let your pet sniff around, but one needs to be aware with these naughty babies and their mischief. Many pet parents might want to uncover the mystery – why do dogs eat grass? So here it is…


During the last month, every time I took my five-year-old Golden Labrador, Romeo, for a walk, I had to be extra cautious. And

Kritika Manchanda

Kritika Manchanda

the reason why I had to be alert was Romeo’s elevated grass munching habit which got me really worried. Here and there he would sniff around and start chewing or rather nibbling grass.
There is no particular breed who would eat more grass than the other. It is a general tendency and nearly all dogs eat grass.


Why dogs eat grass?
Here are few reasons why your dog eats grass.


For belly problems: Dogs usually eat grass when they have an upset stomach. The grass blades tickle the throat and the stomach lining. This aids the dog in vomiting and your pet is relieved from the discomfort of indigestion or upset stomach.


Roughage need: Experts believe that the grass eating habit can also be related to the fact that canines need a little roughage in their daily diet. When this dietary need is not met, they chew a little grass.


Intestinal worms: Some pet parents feel that their dogs eating grass is a sign that the pet has intestinal worms and take it as a sign of deworming. But Dr NB Shivaprakash says that this cannot be used a yardstick for deworming.


Unmet nutritional needs: There is a chance that your dog’s nutritional needs are not being met and that’s why the little one is nibbling away on grass. You can also talk to your vet and ask him to chalk out a diet plan for your pet. Give him well-balanced commercial diet.


Eating grass to kill boredom: In many cases the dog would just be nibbling on grass out of sheer boredom. And for this, you cannot blame the pet. Just because you are busy chasing deadlines doesn’t mean you ignore spending quality time with your pet. Play, run or just indulge in a chit-chat session…whatever you do, keep your pets engaged. Apart from their physical exercise, you need to cater to their mental exercise as well.


Basic instinct: Legend says that before being domesticated, dogs used to spend their life out in the wild. It was during this time that they used to eat wild berries and shrubs. Since then till now, the kind of food that dogs may have changed, but that grass munching craving has not totally left them. Every once in a while dogs get this craving that they fulfill by nibbling or licking grass.


Compulsive behaviour: In some rare cases it is also noted that some dogs develop an obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD as it is popularly known as and keep nibbling grass. Only an expert would be able to judge this, so you must talk to your vet about it.
The digestive system of dogs cannot digest grass. Once they eat grass, it comes in contact with the gastric acids of the stomach. Since the canine digestive system does not have the enzyme to digest grass, it is removed from the body with the excreta.


Dr Shivaprakash mentions that there is nothing to worry about if your pet is munching on little grass. “In most cases dogs would eat grass if they have indigestion or have licked an unwanted substance like shampoo etc,” he adds. But just in case you feel your pet is making it a habit, you need to consult your vet.


How boring life would be if our canine companions don’t add spice and happiness through their naughtiness! So while Rocky goes for a walk and Zeezoo plays in the park, let them munch the irresistible grass; but only in a limited amount.


(With inputs from Dr NB Shivaprakash, Westend Specialty Pet Care & Nursing Home, Bengaluru).

Help your dog cope with Arthritis

As our pets age, you may begin to notice subtle changes in their movement, such as having a little difficulty going up or down the stairs, or seemingly slow to rise from a comfortable laying position.  These can be early signs of arthritis, and early intervention is critical to slowing progression of the disease. Here’s how to go about it.

Arthritis is debilitating disease causing stiffness and pain in the joints. The most common

Dr Ashwani Kumar Singh

Dr Ashwani Kumar Singh

arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis, named because the problem is caused by the bones. Arthritic dogs have a hard time getting around. The easy run becomes a stiff walk; the jump to a favourite chair is no longer possible; lying down is accompanied by a deep groan. They may no longer be interested in playing with dog toys, walking or any other physical activities and prefer to spend most of the time sleeping. ‘Arthritis’ is one of the most common ailments seen in middle-aged to older pets.

Causes of Arthritis

In arthritis, the cartilage lining of the joints wears down and the lubricating oil (synovial

Dr Kumar Mangalam Ya

Dr Kumar Mangalam Ya

fluid) in the joint is less than it should be. This is caused by many factors, including damage due to old age, injury and growing defects (elbow and hip dysplasia). Arthritis is painful and can be very debilitating.
We see a lot of arthritis problems in middle to old-age dogs, especially if they were very active when young. A large number of cases are due to joint injury, the most common being a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in the knee (stifle).

Breeds prone to Arthritis
Any dog in any age group can get arthritis; however, medium to large breeds are usually susceptible to acquiring Arthritis as they carry more weight and are therefore more likely to damage their joints. Some of these breeds include Labradors, Retrievers, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Very active dogs can simply wear out a joint by the time they reach middle to old age, while younger animals can injure a joint and quickly develop arthritis if left untreated and unstable.

How do I know that my dog suffers from Arthritis?
Arthritis makes your lovable dog unable to jump to his favourite chair. Some pets hide their arthritis pain, but you’ll notice they don’t want to play because it’s difficult to run and wrestle. They can’t leap on or off the bed, or climb into a car without help. So, you have to keep a keen watch on changing behaviour or following activity of your dog in order to determine whether he is suffering from Arthritis or not.

Here are a few symptoms to watch out
Limping: You may see your pet limping or favouring one or more of his legs, depending onUntitled-3 copy which legs and which joints are arthritic. In some cases, the limp may seem worse when your pet first rises and becomes less noticeable as your pet ‘warms up’ by moving around.
Difficulty in moving: Your pet may also become reluctant to do things that were previously easy for him to accomplish. For instance, your dog may find it difficult to get into and out of the car or may have difficulty going up and down stairs that were previously easily manageable. Arthritic cats, on the other hand, may stop jumping onto countertops, perches and other high areas because of the pain and discomfort.
Spinal issues: Arthritic changes can occur not only in the legs but also in various parts of the spine. These changes may result in a sore neck, an abnormal posture with a ‘hunch’ in the back, or lameness of one or both hind legs.
Tiredness: Your pet may tire more easily. For dogs, this may mean that walks become shorter and more painful for your pet. Your pet may spend more time sleeping and/or resting.
Irritability: Arthritic animals may become irritable. They may snap and/or bite when approached or handled, particularly if the petting or handling takes place in a manner that increases their pain.
Muscle atrophy: Arthritic pets often develop muscle atrophy or dying off of the muscle tissue due to inactivity and decreased use of the muscles. A pet with atrophied muscles in their legs will have a leg which looks thinner than a normal leg.
Licking, chewing, biting: Pets affected with Arthritis may also begin to lick at, chew or bite at body areas that are painful. This may even reach the point of causing inflamed skin and hair loss over affected areas.
Coping with Arthritis
As a responsible pet parent, you can help your pooch to deal with this painful condition by the following practices:
Slimming down: If your dog is overweight, commit to helping him slim down. Extra weight places extra strain on joints, worsening the pain of arthritis. Feeling guilty because your dog is looking longingly at his food bowl? Mix a little pumpkin (unsweetened, not canned) into his dinner; it’s healthy, low cal, and will help him feel full.
Gentle exercise: Your dog absolutely still needs regular exercise; it is a must to keep him moving and from stiffening up, just make sure it’s controlled, gentle, low impact, and short in duration.
Ramps & pet steps: Help your arthritic dog get up steps, on to a bed, or in and out of cars with a ramp or pet steps.
Improved traction: Arthritic dogs are less steady on their feet. Offer them stability with secure rugs for traction.
Canine massage: Massage eases sore muscles, lowers blood pressure, and reduces stress for both the giver and receiver. Plus, it’s great for bonding and a wonderful way to check in with your older dog, enabling you to note any new lumps, bumps or sore places.
Acupuncture: Veterinary acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s own pain relieving and anti-inflammatory substances.
Sweet heat: Heating pads relieve aches, healing benefits including pain relief, muscle relaxation, stimulating acupuncture points, releasing trigger points, and healing injuries.
A supportive bed: A firm orthopaedic foam bed that distributes the dog’s weight evenly reduces pressure on the joints and can help an arthritic dog as he curls up with favourite dog toys.
Can canine Arthritis be prevented?
Keeping your dog fit with exercise and proper nutrition may, in some cases, help prevent Arthritis, or possibly slow its progression once the condition has set in. In fact, if your dog is a larger breed, it’s necessary to monitor the type and amount of food given when his bones are still growing. However, arthritic conditions cannot always be predicted or prevented, especially those that are inherited. But with your love and care, you can always make life easier and comfortable for your pooch.

(Dr Ashwani Kumar Singh and Dr Kumar Mangalam  Yadav are interns at Government Veterinary Hospital, Bharatpur, Rajasthan).

10 Warning Signs that compel immediate

As pet parent you always want the best for our furry companions. But there are chances that you might overlook a symptom which later becomes a big problem. Here are 10 Signs that indicate when to visit the vet.


Kritika Manchanda

Kritika Manchanda

With pets you need to be extra cautious and alert. You never know when that slight fever becomes tick fever or that skin infection starts causing severe discomfort to your pet. Dr JC Kochar of Pet’s Mart Clinic, Chandigarh, says, “The pet has to be taken to vet when he looks lazy, is off food, feverish, has diarrhoea, and has tick infestation.”


Early detection can prevent further complications. In this, pet parent Monita from Delhi shares, “Romeo was pawing his ears and was constantly shaking his head. We thought it is ear wax irritating him, so cleaned his ears. But when the problem persisted we took him to the vet and found out he had mange all over his ears.”


It is always a good idea to take your pet to the vet for regular health check-ups. Pups should be taken for a physical examination, de-worming, and vaccination as scheduled by the vet.  For senior dogs, health check-ups should be scheduled 2–3 times a year. Sometimes, you need to take you pet to the vet more often.


Following are the 10 Warning Signs that indicate you must take your pet to the vet:
1. Vomiting/diarrhoea: Your pet might have an upset stomach once in a while. But if he has been vomiting frequently, you must consult your vet. Prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea might point to stomach infection, food poisoning, food allergy, etc.  Also, if there is blood in your pet’s vomit or poop, then you must take him to the vet immediately.


2. Tick attack: Summers and monsoons are the seasons when ticks are the highest. The moist conditions make a good breeding ground for these parasites. If you see your furry buddy scratching his ears, paws or elsewhere, check for ticks. If left untreated, ticks can lead to skin infection, rashes, bleeding and tick fever which can be fatal. Your vet would suggest the appropriate treatment method which can be anti-tick shampoo, tick collars or even vaccination.


3. Excessive urination: As pet parents you would know that your little one has a set pee cycle – morning, after meals and before sleep. If you notice that your pet is urinating frequently and has a lesser control over his bladder, then we suggest you must talk to your vet. Frequent and excessive urination can be early signs of bladder stones, bladder infection, cysts, urinary tract infection, etc.


4. Anxiety: Getting irritated sometimes is quite common and the same holds true for your pets as well. But look out for signs of anxiety and irritability in your pet and make sure you catch them at the right time. Increased barking, change in behaviour, withdrawal, fear and aloofness are the main symptoms of anxiety. Separation anxiety is also very common in pets. Consulting the vet is the best option. He would find the root cause and might suggest some lifestyle changes, anxiety suppressant pills and even conduct some tests. It is likely that the irritability has developed as a reaction to some toxic substance in the diet. Dr Kochar adds, “Anxiety is quite common in dogs. Talk to your pet, shower him with love and affection, take him for a long stroll – these are some of the most common stress and anxiety busters. If none of these options works, we can give the dog anti-anxiety drugs as well.”


5. Head tilting and shaking: Going ‘Awww’ on the mushy head tilt is good. But if your beloved continues to shake and tilt his head, it is a warning sign. Your pet might be shaking and titling his head because he is feeling restless and uncomfortable. Head shaking and tilting can also be a sign of ear infection or vestibular disease (it affects the body’s balance system and is commonly seen in older dogs).


6. Aggression: When your usually happy cuddly baby shows sudden aggression, it is an alarming sign. Change in behaviour, snapping, growling, biting are the main signs that indicate aggression. Possession aggression is also quite common. This occurs when your pet becomes possessive about his toys, food bowl or even the pet parent. Many times the aggression is part of a temporary phase, if your pet is in pain due to an injury or irritated due to an illness or recent vaccination. But a visit to the vet is always recommended to find out what is troubling your pet. Dr Kochar adds, “Aggression can be due to confinement and isolation. Also if the dog is threatened or challenged, he tends to growl or show aggression in some form. Male dogs can change into aggressive behaviour because of frustration due to testosterone hormone.”


7. Watery swollen eyes: Eye infections are quite common in dogs and the main symptoms are–itchy eyes, discharge from the eyes, watery and swollen eyes, etc. The infection would cause irritation which would in turn lead to itching and redness. There might be a chance that your pet has infection in his paws which got transferred to the eyes when he scratched. “Watery eyes could be due to irritation of corneal surface leading to ulcer formation,” shares Dr Kochar. He also adds that it could be due to glaucoma, conjunctivitis, infections like chlamydia or viral infection, due to some allergic reaction to insect bite, etc.


8. Not eating properly: You know it is a matter of concern when your pet’s bowl isn’t licked off clean. Loss of appetite is one of the first symptoms of fever, gastro infection, stress, etc. Take him to the vet and find the main cause why your pet is refusing to eat.


9. Difficulty in breathing: Breathlessness, difficulty in breathing, and laboured breathing are often considered signs of aging and obesity. But these signs can have hidden meanings – heart ailments, lung disease, and even cancer.


10. Lethargy: Dogs have a tendency to be cheerful, happy and playful. A lethargic dog indicates that there is something bothering him. It your pet stays away from play sessions and shows resistance while walking, you should be concerned. Being sluggish and tired indicate fatigue, sore muscles, fever, injury, etc.
So, if you see any of these signs, rush your pet to the vet immediately.

Signs, Treatment & Control of Hookworms

Pets are susceptible to various diseases among which parasitic diseases play a major role. Among parasites, hookworms are a major concern especially in young animals where they cause severe morbidity and mortality. Here’s more on hookworms.


Dr A Sangaran, Dr ST Bino Sundar, Dr BR Latha

Dr A Sangaran, Dr ST Bino Sundar, Dr BR Latha

Hookworms dwell in the small intestine of dogs and cats. They have well developed cutting tooth and are voracious blood suckers. Ancylostoma caninum and Ancylostoma braziliense affect both dogs and cats whereas Ancylostoma tubaeforme affects cats only.


What’s in the name?
The anterior end of the worms is bent dorsally like a hook and hence they are named commonly as ‘hookworms’.



Life cycle
Female hookworms lay about 16,000 eggs per day which are passed in the faeces of dogs and cats depending on the affected animal. In a week’s time, the eggs that are passed out in the faeces develop into infective larvae (normally the third stage larva i.e. L3). The infective larvae (L3) prefer moist conditions and they are found mostly in sandy and damp soil.


Modes of infection
Dogs and cats get infected either by ingestion of the infective larvae (L3) orally or by skin penetration by the larvae. Prenatal and transmammary infections (through milk, very common in puppies and kittens) can also occur. The habit of licking the grass by dogs and cats facilitates easy entry of infective larvae orally. Larvae ingested orally either develop directly to adults or migrate through the trachea and reach the small intestine to become adults.
Larvae entering by skin penetration reach the lungs via circulation and then through the trachea, reach the intestine to develop as adult hookworms.
In older female dogs following oral ingestion or skin penetration, a few larvae (L3) directly develop to adult but majority of the larvae migrate to various tissues and remain dormant until pregnancy. In the pregnant animals, such dormant larvae get activated by the hormonal influence and these activated larvae enter the developing foetus via placental circulation. The developing worms do not mature in the foetus until the pups are born. They mature within 25-30 days of birth of pups and kittens and eggs can be seen in the faeces. Prenatal infection (placental transmission) is common in pups only.
The larvae which are passed to pups via colostrum directly develop to adult worms without any migration in the tissues. Paratenic hosts like rodents may also be involved wherein infection is acquired by dogs and cats due to ingestion of infected rodents having the larvae of hookworms.


How hookworms
affect the pet?
Heavy infection is common in young puppies and kittens below six months to one-year-old. Smaller breeds are severely affected than larger breeds. Hookworms are attached to intestinal wall and voraciously suck the blood. The worms have the habit of frequently changing the site of attachment, leading to severe bleeding and bite wounds in the intestine, resembling ulcers. The worms also secrete anticoagulants while blood feeding and this leads to continuous oozing of blood in the intestinal wall. In heavy infections, where the number of hookworms could be in thousands, puppies and kittens become anaemic since each worm can suck about 0.001 ml of blood per day. Due to skin penetration of infective larvae, dermatitis and swelling of subcutaneous tissue can be seen. Owing to continuous blood loss, anaemia occurs and in severe infections death results particularly in young animals.


Anaemia is the striking clinical sign which is evidenced by pale mucous membrane, diarrhoea with bloody mucous and infected animals usually pass tarry red coloured faeces. Edema of legs and dependant parts, dry and harsh skin coat and stunted growth are common clinical signs. Infection is usually diagnosed by clinical signs and faecal examination for hookworm eggs.


Dangerous forhumans too…
Hookworms are also zoonotically important. In human beings, especially children, they cause a condition called Cutaneous Larval Migrans (CLM) or Creeping Eruption which occurs due to the skin penetration of the larvae of hookworms when children play with bare foot in areas inhabited by infected dogs where the soil is fully contaminated with infective hookworm larvae. Infection is featured by inflammatory tracts, oedema, pruritus, erythema, vesicle formation and burning sensation at the site of larval penetration in the skin.


Treatment and control
Anthelmintics such as disophenol, mebendazole, tetramisole, levamisole and fenbendazole are found to be effective. Periodic deworming of pups, hygienic maintenance of kennels, treating the floor of kennels with common salt or sodium borate solution, proper disposal of dog faeces and keeping the kennels and surroundings dry can control the infection to a larger extent.


(Dr A Sangaran, Dr ST Bino Sundar and Dr BR Latha belong to Department of Vete Parasitology, Madras Veterinary College, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai.)

Understanding causes and treatments of Canine Dermatitis

Skin is the first line of defence and is also the prime indicator of general health in dogs. There are several external and internal factors that contribute to the general health, structure and function of skin. Therefore, skin problem is quite common in dog. Let’s see why!

Dr Lalhmingmuana Sailo

Dr Lalhmingmuana Sailo


What is Canine Dermatitis?

‘Canine Dermatitis’ means ‘inflammation of dog skin’. It is fairly common in companion dogs and is one of the most frustrating conditions that pet parents have to deal with. Dermatitis is usually a chronic condition with frequent chances of recurrence!


What causes it?
Canine Dermatitis may be caused by the following alone or in combination:


  • Animal, vegetable or chemical substances that can cause skin irritation.
  • Exposure to extreme condition – heat, cold or humidity.
  • Self-induced/self-trauma due to biting, chewing or rubbing.
  • Parasitic infestation by fleas, flies, ticks, mites, lice, maggots, etc.
  • Allergies/hypersensitivity/atopy.
  • Malnutrition or deficiency of essential nutrients.
  • Immune-mediated or auto-immune disorders.
  • Infectious diseases – bacterial, fungal, yeast or viral.
  • Hormonal imbalances – hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism, hyperestrogenism.
  • Skin abscesses, tumours or masses – cysts, haematomas, lipomas, adenomas, melanomas, papillomas.
  • Idiopathic or unknown causes.


What are the symptoms?
Dermatitis in dogs can cause wide ranges of clinical signs and symptoms depending on the pet’s health, living environment and immune system. The hallmark of canine dermatitis is intense Untitled-5itchiness (or also called pruritus) which may or may not fluctuate seasonally. Pruritus will be responded with intense scratching, licking, pawing, chewing and/or biting at the skin, rubbing the head on the floor or ground.


Redness, thickening, oily and fowl smelling of the affected skin are commonly seen. Other common signs may include, hair loss (alopecia); may be patchy or symmetrical; inflammation (redness, swelling, irritation) of the paws, legs, tail base, flank, neck and/or armpit areas, hot spots; raw, weeping, painful sores; usually due to self-trauma, raised red skin eruptions or bumps, dry, scaly, crusty skin (dandruff), ear infections with foul odour coming from the ears.


How is it diagnosed?
In general, canine dermatitis can be diagnosed from the symptoms of skin inflammation. However, it is not easy to figure out the underlying causes!
The veterinarian will collect thorough history by asking questions about the dog’s health history, travel history and diet accompanied by careful observation of the dog’s skin and hair coat. He may look for ectoparasites and any identifiable environmental allergies and then a systematic hunt to determine the cause of the condition.
Skin scraping examination might help in identifying the ectoparasites. Besides, blood and urine samples can be taken to rule out systemic causes of dermatitis, such as hyperadrenocorticism, diabetes, kidney disease or hypothyroidism. Sometimes, the veterinarian probably may conduct tests to identify possible causes of hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions that commonly contribute to skin inflammation.

Dietary changes, including an elimination diet protocol, may be recommended to determine whether the dog has allergies to particular food

Fleas allergic dermatitis

Fleas allergic dermatitis

ingredients. This involves feeding the dog only a few ingredients at first, such as rice and boiled chicken, and then gradually adding one more ingredient at a time, assessing the dog’s skin reaction along the way. Elimination diet trials take a long time and lots of patience on the part of the pet parent and the dog.


How can it be treated?
The goals of treating dermatitis in dogs are to control the inflammation and itchiness associated with the disorder, to resolve the underlying causes and restoring the dog’s comfortable quality of life.


  • Find the cause: Before resorting to topical, oral or parenteral medications to treat the symptoms of dermatitis, pet parents and their veterinarians need to figure out why the dogs are having skin problems in the first place. They should pay particular attention to the dog’s home environment and living conditions.
  • Safeguard your pooch: External parasites (such as ear mites, fleas, lice and ticks) are common contributors to canine dermatitis. Fortunately, there are many preventative and treatment measures that can help keep these annoying pests away from our dogs.
  • Get rid of internal parasites: Internal parasites, such as tapeworms and hookworms, also can contribute to canine dermatitis by reducing the affected dog’s immune system. Consult your vet.
  • Be diet-conscious: All companion dogs should be fed a high-quality and well-balanced diet. Essential fatty acids and vitamins can help dogs in maintaining hair coat and healthy skin.
  • Choose specific shampoo: Medicated shampoos that contain natural ingredients such as sulphur, tea tree oil, oatmeal and/or aloe can also help in reducing itchiness, moisturise skin and heal
    Bacterial dermatitis in puppy

    Bacterial dermatitis in puppy

    skin sores.

  • Medications by vet: Dogs with severe skin inflammation or skin infections may need to be treated with oral, topical or injectable medications to manage their diseases.
  • Consult your vet: Anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines and corticosteroids are frequently used to treat the effects of dermatitis in dogs. These medications, especially steroids, can have a number of adverse side effects, especially if they are administered for long periods of time. A veterinarian is the best one to give advice about appropriate medical treatment protocols for dermatitis in companion dogs.


Generally, dermatitis in dogs is not a life-threatening condition; however, it can cause extreme discomfort. Most cases of canine dermatitis respond well to topical or systemic medical treatment. It is always important to identify the cause of the condition with the help of veterinarian for successful treatment to ensure that the dog has a comfortable, itch-free and good quality of life.


(Dr Lalhmingmuana Sailo, MVSc (Med) runs Waggin’ Tails Pet Clinic at Aizawl, Mizoram).