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Ask the Expert.. Nov-Dec 06

Q?:?I have a male Tibetan Terrier, who is 2 years and 3 months old. I feed him milk and roti for lunch and dinner and occasionally meat stock and roti. He has pedigree, biscuits, chewsticks for breakfast. Sometimes he stops eating his food. We have tried to feed him cereals, pulses and vegetables but he refuses to eat the same. He tends to eat the things we eat, refusing what is served in his bowl. He also likes to eat sweets. Are they good for his health? Please recommend a healthy diet for him.
– Aparna Thakre, Nasik

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?It is not surprising to know your pet showing this feeding behaviour. There are a number of reasons for your pet to behave like this. For e.g., he may have fear for new food, previous bad experience with the food, poor palatability or simply, he may be a fussy eater. Small breeds are generally considered as fussy eaters. Some dogs may refuse food/skip meals, when they have consumed more energy then they would require (which is common in our experience). Please make sure that you are not overfeeding him and monitor his body weight at least every two weeks.

Home made diets depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete. Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Therefore, we suggest to feed him pet food which is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of dogs in different lifestages. You can also choose to prepare balanced home made food after consulting your vet nutritionist. Feeding sweets occasionally as a snack should not be a problem as long as it does not add significant calories.

Q?:?Please advise how to take care of a two-month-old Rottweiler puppy?
– Sanjay Gupta

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, but other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important. If you start training your puppy early, housetraining shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Patience and praise at the right time is the secret. It is essential particularly during this socialisation period that the puppy encounters all the things (people, other animals, objects) that he may encounter in adult life. A well-socialised puppy should be able to cope with any new things that he may experience in later life.

Your best ally in the prevention of health problems is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on vaccinations (starting from 6 to 20 weeks of age), worming (every 2-3 weeks until 6 months of age), feeding and the general health care of your dog. In addition to the training that occurs throughout the day during exercise and interaction with people, more formal training begins approximately 7-8 weeks of age.

Q?:?My 11-month-old Pug (male) cannot digest dog food and vomits the same. He just eats egg, milk and roti. I have tried various brands of dog food but the result is the same. He is a little overweight and snores. Also, let me know if Pugs have breathing problems. Please advise.
– Dr. Mansi S Chauhan, Bhavnagar

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Puppy owners, in particular, are aware of the heavy nutritional demands of the puppy as he grows and may be tempted to feed as much as he will eat. However, many dogs tend to overeat and this could have damaging consequences for your puppy. The extra food received is converted into fat and stored in the body. While a dog is still young and growing, his body will produce extra fat cells to store the excess fat and, once formed, these cells stay with him for life. This may make him prone to obesity as an adult. Overfeeding of rapidly growing puppies can also cause a number of skeletal deformities in large breeds as well as other health problems. It is therefore important to monitor his general condition and record his weight regularly on the ‘Puppy Growth Chart’ to check that he is growing at a rate appropriate to the breed. If he has more than a moderate covering of fat over his ribs he may be getting too fat. When you use a prepared pet food, the label on the packaging will provide a guideline as to how much to feed your dog and it is not necessary to add any calcium or protein supplements.

Dogs with short snouts (Brachycephalic breeds) like Pugs and Bulldogs aren’t able to breathe as efficiently as dogs with longer snouts. Their elongated soft palates tend to make a snoring sound when they inhale. And, the harder the dog breathes, the greater the swelling of the soft palate. Ask your veterinarian for advice if you are unsure about your growing pet condition.

Ask the expert..July-Aug 06

Q?:?What is your opinion on BARF diet? Or is commercial available dog food best for dogs?
–Bikram Suri, Gurgaon

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?BARF, a “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food” appear to follow the concept of feeding dogs naturally as they believe that dogs have been evolved to eat a carnivorous diet. The diet is based on feeding dogs as close to the prey model as possible. They believe that dogs are carnivorous (meat eaters) while vets and scientists are convinced that dogs are omnivorous (eat vegetarian and/or meat).

Traditionally, dogs have been fed table scraps and left to scavenge whatever food they can. However, the domestic dog has become elevated to near family-member status. Concurrent advances in the knowledge of canine nutrient requirements (NRC, 2003, AAFCO 2004) have resulted in sophisticated, balanced and nutritionally complete manufactured diets for dogs.

The manufacturers of pet foods are equally convinced that health and longevity are best achieved by feeding their nutritionally complete and balanced formulations. There is a general belief that the feeding of manufactured pet foods since their introduction in the 1950s has been associated with increased health and longevity throughout the pet population.

Q?:?Can dogs see in colour?

–?Ranganathan Menon, Secuderabad

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?It is not true that dogs can only see in black and white. Dogs are thought to have similar colour vision to humans who are red-green colour blind. They are better adapted for low light conditions and sensitive to movement. However, they can’t see the fine details as humans.

Q?:?My dog keeps searching and looking for dirt, whether it is the dustbin or on a walk he sniffs out the dirtiest things. I cannot understand his habit and am worried that he will catch an infection. Please let me know what measure to take to prevent infections.
–?Divyani, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?This type of behaviour may start after a change in the dog’s routine or lack of socialisation/exposure to environment or as result of boredom. If your pet has developed this habit, behavioural modification or training can help to correct this activity. One method is to distract your pet away from these things using toys or showing element of surprise (squirt him with water/make unpleasant distracting noise/throw a toy near him). Giving your dog much more physical and mental stimulation prior to leaving him will quickly reduce the possibility of him looking for such things.

This can easily be achieved by playing in and around the house, hiding toys and food treats. Learning in the ‘doggy world’ consists of trying out new behaviours and seeing what happens as a consequence of this behaviour. If the behaviour (action) is followed by a good consequence, this behaviour will be repeated. One example could be begging at the table which is rewarded by getting food. If the behaviour (e.g. the begging) is, however, followed by a negative consequence (in this case, no food given), the behaviour will eventually be stopped. Effective training should work on the same principle and should be a combination of information (what you want the dog to do), motivation (a reason for your dog to do it), and timing (when to reward a good action). If this behaviour persists, seek professional training for your pet. Lastly make sure that your pet is receiving complete and balanced pet food.

Q?:?What are the signs that show that my dog might not be well?
–Ritu Puri, Pune

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Signs of illness in dogs vary depending on the age of the dog, system affected, type and duration of illness etc, e.g., some dogs with simple fever continue to eat and play while some become lethargic and loose appetite. Therefore, regular visits to your vet for monitoring his health is essential in preventing and controlling serious ailments. To help you figure this out, here’s a partial list of signs worth reporting to your vet as soon as possible :

  • Collapse or convulsions.
  • Increased frequency of urination, increased amounts of urine produced, or difficulty in urination, urination in the house by a previously house-trained dog.
  • Greatly increased thirst and water intake.
  • Persistent cough or abnormal breathing.
  • Discharge from nostrils, eyes, ears etc.
  • Diarrhoea, constipation or vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours.
  • Loss of appetite for more than 24 hours.
  • Weakness or lethargy. Loosing body weight.
  • Swelling/lumps anywhere on body.
  • Lameness or a change in the way your pet walks or runs.
  • If your dog is in obvious discomfort. Persistent head shaking, excessive scratching, pawing at ears, or rubbing his hindquarters along the ground may be signs of distress.

Ask the Expert..Mar-April 06

Q?:?I noticed my dog uncomfortable and rubbing his backside on the floor. Why does this problem occur and how do I solve it?
–?Sarika, Bangalore

Dr. Umesh?:?Considering the symptom, he seems to be suffering from anal sac disease. The anal sacs are located on either side of the anus and connected to anus by means of small canals or ducts. These sacs produce and store dark, foul smelling fluid (organs that a skunk has, to scare away its enemies). If the anal sac aren’t emptied properly, the fluid builds up, solidifies, and becomes infected or impacted causing irritation to the dog. Scooting or dragging his bottom on the floor could be a first sign of this problem. Therefore the treatment is to express (squeeze out) the sacs and clean out the solidified material. If anal sacs are infected or has developed abscess, antibiotics or surgical draining may be required. Regular examination or cleaning of anal sacs can prevent recurrence. Please take him to your vet for examination to identify underlying causes (anal sacs or rectal diseases or parasites).

Q?:?I want to keep a female dog. Please advise what care and management should be taken to prevent unwanted pregnancies?