Ask the expert..Nov-Dec 10

Q: My cat Oliver is a two-month-old Persian. Please advice about cat training and flea prevention.
– Asma Nadeem Ahmed, Bangalore


A: Dr KG Umesh: Early socialisation is the process by which a cat learns to relate appropriately to people, other cats and to her environment. The ‘sensitive period’ for socialisation lies between two and seven weeks of age in kittens. Getting the socialisation of your kitten right in the first few months of life ensures your kitten will develop a secure, well-adjusted personality. It also improves the quality of the cat-owner relationship and is very important for preventing behaviour problems. As with all training, it should be kind and based on positive reinforcement, rewarding correct action and ignoring all unwanted behaviours. Effective training should contain a combination of information (what you want the cat to do), motivation (a reason for the cat to do it) and timing (when to give the reward for a good action).

Flea control must be done in her environment before treating infested cat. Your veterinarian will recommend a suitable de-fleaing agent and will advise you on an effective flea-eradication programme that is safe for cats. Always follow the directions carefully, and remember to treat other pets in the household as well. Remove all of your cat’s bedding and wash it well (hot wash cycle), along with the box or basket. Don’t forget to vacuum thoroughly around the carpets and furniture.

Ask the expert..Sep-Oct 10

Q. Please do advice about behavioural abnormalities in cats.
– Ashimi Das, Guwahati


A: Dr KG Umesh: Cats make good pets because their needs are simple and they like the security of their own home, from which they can explore their own territory and hunt. In a few respects, cats are fussy – they can be fussy about their food and even more so about getting wet. Cats are known to be solitary hunters when their way of life allows it and therefore, hunting is a normal, instinctive behaviour in cats. A comprehensive history including behavioural assessment, history and diagnostic tests are required to identify what is really a behavioural problem in cats. For example, a cat who is urinating inappropriately could have urinary tract problem or may have joint problem that makes the cat difficult to use the litter box. Cats who are deprived of social interaction with humans or other kittens during socialization period may not be able to develop normal social relationships and may demonstrate behavioural problems. These problems include rejection of or aggression toward humans (especially children), aggression toward other cats, failure to mate successfully, and rejection. Cats who begin eliminating outside the litter box on a regular basis after being trained may do so for many reasons including illness, anxiety, an aversion to the type or location of the box or litter, or a preference for another location or litter. Intact males who show urine-marking (spraying) behaviour may require neutering. An owner who appreciates the natural, instinctive behaviour of their cat such as his body language or when he is showing sexual behaviour is much better equipped to react appropriately in any situation. Proper socialization, handling, good care and understanding normal cat behaviour will prevent many of these behavioural problems.

Just fur Fun | Sep Oct 10

All About My Buddy:

just fur fun

Gold and Dolly

My Name is: Neha Kanchan

My Buddies’ Names Are: Gold and Dolly

My Buddies’ Breed is Labrador Retrievers and German Spitz

My Buddies’ Age Are: 1 Year (Gold) & 1.3 Years (Dolly)

My Buddies’ Are: Male (Gold) & Female (Dolly)

My Buddies’ Colours are Golden (Gold) and White (Dolly)

My Buddies’ Favourite Treats: Biscuits and Curd

My Buddies’ Funniest Habits: They keep running all around me while I am doing any work

My Buddies’ First Love: It’s me for both Gold and Dolly

Character Certificates to My Buddies Gold very adorable and dolly very naughty and my sweetheart

BUDDIES and ME: (Few of our favourite things)

List of Activities We Like Doing the Most: Playing, walking and jumping and Gold loves to take a bath

What We Indulge Doing on Sundays: Playing with toys and of course eathing!!

What is the Best Tricks I Have Taught Them: Fetch the ball and the bone

Ask the expert… | Sep Oct 10

Q: I have a one-year-old Labrador, who is losing a lot of fur. I have shown to my doctors but they cannot figure out the reason. Please help.
–Deepti Shah, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Hair loss is a common complaint in our country in dogs with skin ask the expertdisorders and results from a number of causes. Unlike human being, hair growth cycle in dogs is different. For example, hair does not grow continuously in dogs. Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics, health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and therefore, can be physiological. Dogs may also shed excessive hair because of stress, worms, harsh climate and general illness. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause(s) like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection, etc and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore hair fall. Your vet may suggest some blood tests and trichogram. Evening Primrose oil capsules (1 cap per day) or corn oil (2-4 tsp) and Zinc capsules everyday in the feed may also help him improve his hair coat in the short term when no underlying cause is identified.

Q: My 33-day-old pug ‘Dhanush’ seems to have a birth defect on his right paw, which is slightly bent as diagnosed by my vet, Dr. Morton. He limps slightly when he walks. His paw is slightly bent inwards. Is this correctable by surgery? When is the right time? The breeder even offered to take him back but we are all so emotionally attached to him that we wouldn’t give him up at any cost. I look to you for help.
–Bharati Ramesh, Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: It is difficult to recommend or suggest suitable therapy without reading his radiograph and confirming the diagnosis. Juvenile carpal flexural deformity and carpal laxity syndrome are pretty common growth-related conditions in young pups (usually less than four months of age). Most people advise a good quality puppy diet and good footing but there’s no sure evidence that this makes any difference. Splinting does not help and may be contraindicated. Thus, the best treatment here is probably benign neglect. Please contact your vet who can suggest orthopedic specialist in your region.

Q: I kept a street pup at the age of about 20 days, now she is two months old and she is having bowing of front legs with inversion at ankles, she was diagnosed with rickets and was given calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D without any improvement. I have just gone through a website which says it is a disorder called knuckling over which is due to overnutrition, my dog is on Puppy Pedigree–200 gm per day. Please help.
–Vikrant, Bhopal

Dr KG Umesh: Growth in dogs occurs within a genetically determined time frame, but is influenced by a variety of environmental factors, including nutrition. No specific cause has been identified as being ultimately responsible for the clinical manifestations of developmental bone disease, but research indicates that two of the more important nutritional factors are calcium and energy. Whereas simple deficiencies of both of these variables can induce growth and developmental problems, it is their excess (calcium and overfeeding/energy) or alterations in calcium homeostasis that are likely to be of more practical significance. Dysplasia, OCD, hytertrophic osteodystrophy, Valgus deformity are few examples of common orthopaedic problems seen in growing dogs. Therefore my suggestion is to find the cause by thorough investigations including radiograph. Treatment is to decrease the energy intake if the puppy is being fed ad lib and to discontinue any and all dietary supplementations while it is fed on recommended quantity of Pedigree.

Q: My eight-year-old Dachshund has not been able to walk for the past 15 days with his front legs. I took my dog to our veterinary doctor here in Thanjavur – they said it is due to spinal problem. They gave him two injections (painkiller and B-complex) and also IR therapy. His condition has worsened as he cannot get up at all—when he tries to stand up he makes noise. Please advice.
–Balraj & Alex, Thanjavur

Dr KG Umesh: Slipped disc (dislocation of cushioning disc between the vertebrae) is very common in short-legged, long-backed breeds like yours. Intervertebral discs function as shock absorbers and stabilizers of the spine. In these breeds, the disc undergoes degeneration over time but trauma and embolism etc are some other causes. The degeneration causes loss of normal disc architecture and function, resulting in disc bulging or herniation into the spinal canal. Severity and type of signs depend on the rate of disc extrusion/protrusion, volume of compressive mass/cord compression, and lesion location. Surgery or conservative management is used to treat the disease. Conservative treatment is recommend for grade 1 and 2 which includes strict confinement for 4 to 6 weeks; using harness rather than a collar to walk dogs with neck disease. Keep him in a well-padded, clean area to help prevent bed ulcers and urine scald, and bathe as needed. Loss of conscious urination will require manual bladder emptying. Range-of-motion exercises/physiotherapy help maintain muscle and joint health, and standing/balancing exercises encourage limb use and build strength. Non-ambulatory animals should not be allowed to drag themselves around. A cart is a good option for animals with permanent loss of mobility as long as the owner can provide appropriate care.

Q: How can hot spots be prevented? I have a 3 years and 10 months old Labrador who has just recovered from hot spots on the tail and I am a bit worried about recurrence.
–BG Menon, Ghaziabad

Dr KG Umesh: It is very important to recognise that recurring hot spot is secondary to some underlying disease in majority of cases and therefore it is important to perform appropriate diagnostics to find the cause. The most common underlying causes may include fleas and other parasites, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal or other metabolic disorders, allergies and immature immune system. Your vet may suggest some basic blood test and skin tests to find the possible cause. Make sure he is receiving balanced food containing adequate zinc and fatty acids that may help strengthen skin barrier function and bathe only when required (your vet may recommend suitable antibacterial plus colloidal oat meal shampoo). Grooming and flea control are equally important in prevention of hot spots.

Just Fur Fun! | July Aug 10

All About My Buddy:

My Name is: Rosh

My Buddies’ Names Are: Nikki, Bruno & Renee

My Buddies’ Breed is Labrador Retrievers

My Buddies’ Colour is: Fawn

My Buddies’ Age Are: 5 Years (Nikki), 3 Years (Bruno) & 3 Years (Renee)

My Buddies’ Favourite Treats: They love to gorge on chew sticks & Ice Cream

My Buddies’ Funniest Habits: Every night after dinner they are the first ones to book their place on the bed which leaves me totally confused.

My Buddies’ First Love: Any day it’s me even though everyone at home loves three of them.

My Buddies’ Foods: They love anything made with chicken and simply adore any kind of fruits.

Celebrities My Buddies Resemble: They are the best celebrities around the house

Character Certificates to My Buddies Will Say: Always playful (Nickki & Bruno), Very very caring (Renee)

A Song Dedicated to My Buddies: Any song dedicated to friends’ Coz I love them so much

BUDDIES and ME: (Few of our favourite things)

List of Activities We Like Doing the Most: Playing outside with tha ball and goimng for the walks

What We Indulge Doing on Sundays: Going for long drives in car with their heads held outside the windows

What is the Best Tricks I Have Taught Them: They are too cute to be trained

Ask the expert..July-Aug 10

Q: Please give inputs on different areas of kitten care.
– Vrushali Makarand Pandit, Pune


A: Dr KG Umesh: Cats are solitary animals and like to spend some time alone. Best time to bring home a kitten is when they are six weeks old or more. A small box with high sides placed in a warm, draft-free location is an ideal environment. The floor should be padded with washable towels or disposable papers. The first few days after your kitten comes home, continue to feed the food she’s used to have, to help prevent tummy upsets. Then you can gradually introduce a new food. Growing kittens have specific nutritional requirements, and the simplest way to fulfil them is to buy a good quality complete diet from a reputed manufacturer (for example, Whiskas dry or wet). Play is the key to kitten learning – and also provides exercise. It develops their physical and mental abilities, strengthen their muscles and increases their social skills. Make time to play so that she can continue to develop her ‘cat skills’ – like stalking and pouncing. Toys should be small and light enough to bat and carry around in her mouth – but not small enough to be swallowed. Short-haired kittens only need grooming once or twice a week, but long-haired breeds need at least 15 minutes every day. Until your kitten is used to being groomed, keep sessions short, and make her stand on a folded towel, to help her feel secure while you brush her. There are vaccinations (from age of nine weeks with two booster every three weeks) and deworming that will protect your kitten from a number of serious and highly infectious or parasitic diseases. Lastly, your kitten needs to learn the house rules–proper training, litter training and socialization (introduce to everyday sights, sounds people, etc). Consult your vet for further information and vaccinations schedule.

Just fur Fun | May June 10

All About My Buddy:

just fur fun

Yogini & Goofy

My Name is: Yogini

My Buddies’ Names is: Goofy

My Buddies’ Breeds is: Irish Setter

My Buddies’ Ages is: Two years & Five months

My Buddies is: Male

My Buddies’ Favourite Treats : Royal Canin Biscuits

My Buddies’ Funniest Habits : When I play with other dogs and come back home, he gets angry and doesn’t talk to me for a long hours.

My Buddies’ First Love: Hot Lips

My Buddies’ Food: He loves boiled chicken with rice and vegetables

Celebrities my Buddies’ Resemble: GOOFY – the cartoon character

Character Certificates to my Buddies : Extremely intelligent and cute

A Song dedicated to My Buddy : Hero by Enrique Iglesias

(Few of our favourite things)

List of Activities We Like Doing the Most :
Playing with ball and catch n’ cook

What We Indulge Doing on Sundays:
Get up late, watch a movie, go for a walk and drive and play with mom and dad.

What is the Best Tricks I Have Taught them :
To runaway when he’s not hungry, to play Frisbee, to run to his girlfriend’s house in the next building.

Can you advice me about Toxoplasmosis in cats?…May-June 10

Q: Can you advice me about Toxoplasmosis in cats? Also what is the prevention/ cure for cats and people around them?
– Rajesh Talreja, Mumbai


A: Dr KG Umesh: Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasmosis is usually transmitted from ingestion of undercooked meat, sporulated oocysts (eggs), paratenic hosts, and it can be congenital. Acute toxoplasmosis in pregnant women leads to serious disease and/or defects in the fetus. Disease in cats may cause brain disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, respiratory disease and eye disorders. Cats with symptomatic toxoplasmosis are often immunosuppressed. Prevention: Do not feed raw or undercooked meat to cats, keep cats inside and do not let them hunt. Washing hands with soap and water after handling a cat or contacting any urine, feces or other bodily secretions is one of the simplest and most important means of infectious disease control. Pregnant women should avoid contact with cats and cat feces, which are more than 24 hours old. Do not let the cat lick the person in question, particularly on the face, nor should they handle the cat. Practice good hygiene (wash after handling uncooked meat, wear gloves while gardening, cover sandboxes, clean litter boxes daily. Freeze meat to -20oC (-4oF) for two days or cook meat to 160°F and thoroughly clean areas where raw meat is prepared, wash fruits and vegetables prior to consumption). Keep the cat in good health by having regular examinations by a veterinarian, as well as up-to-date vaccinations and regular fecal exams to check for parasites. Feed a high-quality commercial cat food that does not contain any raw ingredients.

I have a one-year-old GSD male.. | May June 10

Q: I have a one-year-old GSD male. I would like to know what food should be given to him in summer and if any special care needs to be taken in the hot months. He sometimes isask the expert not very keen on eating food though otherwise his appetite is not much of a problem. I would also like to know certain tips on the overall health of this particular breed. How many times should we bathe him in summer?
– Snigdha, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Heat and heat stress affects skin health and digestive health and in addition to heat stroke, the susceptible pets (puppies, young dogs, aged pets) are prone to develop a number of heat related diseases due to hyperthermia and reduced immune function. Dogs tend to eat less in summer but they spend more energy in an effort to lower the body temperature (e.g., panting). Therefore, a well-balanced nutritionally complete diet like Pedigree (which also contains some natural antioxidants) confers some protection against the effects of heat stress. Feed during cooler part of the day, if possible, or increase frequency of feeding. Make sure that you feed total recommended quantity of food for your pet in 2-3 meals. Remember to give them plenty of water so they don’t become dehydrated in the warm weather. Avoid exercising your pet in the midday heat. It’s extremely dangerous to leave a pet alone in a vehicle/room/outdoors in the sun – even with a window open – as an overheated car/room can have fatal consequences. Your pets can only cool down by panting, so make sure they have access to shade, proper shelter and water when outside. Dogs only need bathing when they are dirty or on the advice of your veterinarian.

Q: My Labrador is 13 years old. He is developing weakness in his hind legs and he has to make an effort to stand up. Our vet suggested a medicine named ‘Care O Pet’ by Cipla. We are giving this tablet every day alongwith Condro and Neuribion forte. Is there any thing else we can do? What is the normal life span for a Labrador? Please advise.
– P K Sengupta, Noida

Dr KG Umesh: Weakness in hind legs of aged pet may result from dysfunction of the nervous system, neuromuscular system, metabolic, cardiovascular or joint problems. Therefore, the cause of such weakness can either be such primary disorder or can result from dysfunction of a number of other systems that result in impaired neuromuscular function. Some common causes include spinal/backbone problems (particularly disk), heart problems, anemia and arthritis. A reasonable work-up for the weakness is required with selected tests to identify underlying cause, considering pet’s age, breed and concurrent clinical signs. This will help your vet to provide appropriate treatment plan based on cause. Physiotherapy and supportive treatment may benefit until cause is identified or when no underlying problem can be identified. The average life span of Labradors in India may range from 10-16 years depending on level of care.

Q: Please advise the care to be taken of my three months old Lhasa Apso pup, also can I feed him curd and fruits? What tonics are supposed to be given for growth and better coat? He has been given rabies vaccination – can I give booster dose after 21 days?
– Dinesh Koti, Nellore

Dr KG Umesh: Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life (Pedigree puppy) and foods which deliver additional health benefits (Pedigree small breed puppy). Just curd or fruits is not adequate for a growing puppy. Please remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort, and expertise. There is no need to feed any tonics/calcium or home diet while he is feeding on a balanced food like Pedigree, except clean fresh water. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. It is recommended to have booster doses for all vaccinations including rabies.

Q: My eight-year-old cross-breed has become very aggressive. He sometimes bites our family members in anger. What can be the reason behind this?
– Raj Saxsena

Dr KG Umesh: The two most common manifestations of aggressive behaviour towards humans are fear biting and dominance-related aggression. Fear biting is most commonly seen in a dog raised without appropriate human contact during the socialization period of growth. Biting is a canine dominance behaviour and is surprisingly, a form of communication to establish standing within the pack. So, if the pack leader (your dog) decides that a member of the pack (you or a family member) is getting out of line, he may bite that person to show them ‘who’s boss.’ Good training plays a crucial role to ensure a happy and successful relationship between you and your dog (reward good behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour), that means everyone being diligent in enforcing basic commands to show your dog who the real leaders of the household are. Some examples – If your dog barks, growls, or ignores you, try to shift his attention to an exercise or a task he knows well. If this doesn’t help, walk away from the dog. While instinct is a powerful determinant, dogs also take cues from an owner’s personality– friendly, secure dogs, for instance, often have calm owners, while dogs who are easily frightened might have anxious owners.

Q: I have a two-year-old GSD named Bebble. She is falling sick frequently, is not eating food and is losing weight. Please advise.
– Anthony Fernandes

Dr KG Umesh: Any chronic or recurring illness requires some basic investigations to find the underlying cause. Please take her to your vet for complete examination and the vet may recommend required lab tests (it may include stool examination, radiograph, tests for liver and pancreas function, etc)

Q: I have a male three-month-old Golden Retriever. He urinates more than 20-30 times, sometimes white in colour and sometimes yellow. He does poop four times or more and its colour is blackish brown. Is his urination normal, do dogs urinate at one place only or move about and urinate at different locations.
– Aroonita Ghosh, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: Puppies are not capable of controlling urination or defecation until eight weeks of age. A young puppy needs to urinate and defecate frequently as he has a very small bladder and bowel. Housetraining a new puppy usually takes 2 to 4 weeks and is accomplished through confinement, a regular schedule of feeding and elimination breaks, and a great deal of praise but no punishment. It is your responsibility to ensure that you take your puppy to the chosen toilet area as frequently as he needs to go, generally as soon as he wakes up, after every meal and at hourly intervals. Whilst he is learning, it is essential that you wait with him, so that you can praise him at the correct time. Young puppies will inevitably have ‘accidents’. It is important to ignore these, and to clean up well so that the smell does not linger, as this may encourage him to repeat the performance on the same spot. It is also possible to train your puppy to urinate and defecate on command.

Q: I have a male Lhasa Apso. Please advice whether a Boxer/Spitz will be a suitable breed with the Apso or do you suggest any other breed so as to avoid clash. Is neutering necessary for keeping two male dogs?
– Ajay Kumar Khanduri, New Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Whatever your reasons you decided to add another dog to the family, just be aware that bringing in a new dog (breed or size does not matter) is a huge change for an older dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. With the puppy in your lap and your older dog on a leash held by someone else, let the older dog sniff, lick and explore the puppy. A couple of minutes is more than enough time for this initial introduction. Remove the puppy from the room, then lavish your older dog with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppy onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along or have mutual understanding of their position/rank in the family. It’s not a good idea to leave your puppy alone with your older dog. There should always be someone there to supervise. Be sure to give old dog lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced’. Neutering may help to minimise some behavioural issues like aggression, etc.

Dogs and Pups, May June 10 Issue