dog health

Thyroid problems – canines get affected too!

Hypothyroidism is one of the endocrine disorders in dogs that can be quite challenging to diagnose but is easy to treat. Here’s more on this canine disorder.

Hypothyroidism is a clinical condition that results from inadequate production and release of dog healthtetraiodothyronine (levothyroxine, T4) and tri-iodothyronine (liothyronine, T3) by the thyroid gland and characterised by a generalised decrease in cellular metabolic activity.

Treatment of hypothyroidism is more likely to succeed if there is good compliance with the dosing regimen. Canine hypothyroidism can be challenging to diagnose but can be managed successfully and easily with replacement therapy.

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones which have a number of functions in the body and are particularly critical in maintaining your pet’s metabolic rate. Any change in the functioning of this gland can have varied effects on your pet’s health. In some animals, the function of the thyroid gland may become compromised and decrease as your pet ages or due to inflammation of the gland.

Although hypothyroidism (decreased functioning of the thyroid) is not a life-threatening condition, it can certainly decrease your dog’s or cat’s quality of life.

Pet parent’s role

Pet owners play a crucial role in the successful management of canine hypothyroidism. Your attitude will largely determine your dog’s response to treatment.

Watch out for…

Here are a few symptoms of hypothyroidism in pets, where pet parents should pay immediate attention:

  • Gain of weight without any change in their diet.
  • Many become lethargic and seem to lack energy.
  • Hair loss or excessive shedding, and dry or lusterless haircoat.
  • Excessive scaling & hyper-pigmentation.
  • Constipation and cold intolerance.
  • Slow heart rate.
  • Infertility.

Management & treatment of hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism in pets is conventionally treated by administering a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormones. This can often restore healthy thyroid functioning very effectively.

One of the main problems with synthetic thyroid hormones, however, is that they may result in too much thyroid hormone in the body, resulting in hyperthyroidism. This is because it is often difficult to determine exactly how much of the synthetic hormones are needed for optimal thyroid functioning.

For this reason, periodic blood tests for thyroid hormones are absolutely necessary for the exact dosing of Synthetic Thyroid Hormone.

Monitoring treatment

Your veterinarian will need to monitor T4 levels in your dog periodically during the course of treatment. This requires taking a blood sample and measuring the amount of T4 in the blood. After starting thyroid hormone replacement therapy, your veterinarian will usually evaluate peak blood T4 levels every four weeks, 4-6 hours after treatment administration until the correct dose is determined. Once the correct dose is determined, your veterinarian will measure peak T4 levels about every three months.

After about one month of treatment, a blood sample must be taken for analysis of thyroxine (T4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If the dose is changed, a blood sample is usually taken about four weeks later to check that this dose is suitable. Once your dog’s condition is stable, he should be re-checked at least every three months.

(The author is managing director, Myvets Integrated Solutions Pvt Ltd, with a vision for developing excellent veterinary heath care and related services in India for pets and exotic animals.)

Viral infection in canines: prevention and cure

Our doggies too suffer from dreaded viral infections. One of the highly contagious viral diseases is caused by Canine Parvovirus-2. Here’s how to prevent, diagnose and treat it.


What is parvovirus gastroenteritis?

Canine Parvovirus gastroenteritis is a viral infection caused by Canine Parvovirus-2 (CPV-2) in dogs. It is a serious and highly contagious viral disease that occurs in carnivorous animals with dog as a principal host. The disease mainly affects gastrointestinal tract and heart of the dogs depending upon the age of the affected dog.

Dogs at risk

Generally dog of any age and sex can be affected by CPV-2 infection. Some breeds including Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers and German Shepherds are more predisposed to the disease than other dogs. But most severe form of the disease is observed in puppies of less than three months of age. Adult dogs are comparatively resistant to CPV-2 infection and develop only mild syndrome.

Transmission in dogs

The CPV-2 is very stable in environment and resistant to most of common disinfectants. The virus is transmitted to susceptible dogs by direct contact with the infected dog. Virus is also transmitted indirectly through contamination of the fomites, food by feces of infected dogs. The virus is shed in feces by infected dogs for at least three weeks after infection.

Signs of Parvovirus gastroenteritis

CPV-2 has affinity towards actively dividing cells in host body. So, virus attacks the actively dividing cells of the body which includes bone marrow, lymphoid tissue, intestinal epithelium and myocardial cells in puppies less than three month of age. Affected dogs show dullness, anorexia, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. The gastroenteritis is more severe in young pups below 20 weeks of age. The clinical disease is exaggerated by concurrent infection with opportunistic intestinal pathogens like Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, E. coli, Campylobacter, Coronavirus or worms.

The feces are loose and may contain mucus or in severe cases blood (melena). Fluid loss causes rapid dehydration and electrolyte and acid-base imbalance in young dogs. Affection of villous epithelium is also responsible for decrease in absorption of food. Affection of bone marrow causes reduction in white blood cells of body which might further increase susceptibility of dogs to a number of other infections. If appropriate treatment and care is provided, chances of recovery and survival increase. Occasionally affection of myocardium by virus may lead to congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema in pups less than three months old, finally culminating in death.

Diagnosis of Parvovirus gastroenteritis

Generally history of vaccination and clinical signs tell us about the Parvovirus gastroenteritis. Blood tinged diarrhoea and vomitng in unvaccinated but dewormed dogs give suspicion about CPV-2 infection. Laboratory tests like haemagglutination test, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect Parvovirus antigens in fecal sample of dogs are most commonly used for diagnosis of CPV-2 infection in dogs. Complete blood count and biochemical parameters will further tell about physical condition as well as outcome of the disease.

Treatment of Parvovirus gastroenteritis

There is no treatment as such for Parvovirus gastroenteritis. But timely supportive cares save life of dogs affected with CPV-2. In severe cases, signs of circulatory collapse blood transfusion or plasma expanders are indicated. Before transfusion of blood compatibility testing should be done with donor blood. But most commonly, fluid and electrolyte therapy remains as a mainstay of treatment of CPV-2 infection. Lactated Ringers solution and Dextrose is given intravenously to compensate fluid and electrolyte losses.

As affected dog is immunosuppressed, broad spectrum antibiotic coverage with bactericidal drug is required to check any secondary bacterial infection that might otherwise further aggravate the condition. Feeding and watering is commonly withheld till subsidence of vomition. While recovering, dog should be offered with bland diet containing rice, cottage cheese or commercially available prescription diet with gradual inclusion of normal diet should be given based on the speed of recovery.

Preventing Canine Parvovirus infection in your dogs

Premises of dogs should be kept clean with disinfectants like household bleach (1:30 dilution), formalin, gluteraldehyde, etc. Canine Parvovirus infection of dogs can be prevented totally by vaccinating your dog against CPV-2 infection at right time. But sometimes maternal antibodies which provide passive protection against CPV-2 infection may interfere with development of post vaccination immunity. The exact time of disappearance of maternal antibodies from pup is not known. So, vaccination of pups should be started at age of 6-8 weeks and continued at interval of four weeks till 14-16 weeks of age. This will help in inducing very good level of active immunity in pups against CPV-2 infection. Thereafter every year annual booster vaccination should be given.

Until your pups attend the age of 16 weeks with history of complete vaccination against CPV-2, care should be taken to prevent contact with feces of other puppies or dogs if you are taking your dogs for walk in parks and gardens. Modified live virus vaccines are most commonly available in the market for CPV-2 infections. The vaccines available in India for Parvovirus infection include single vaccines like Duramune KF-II, Megavac-P (both live and inactivated vaccine), Nobivac-Parvo-C, Parvocin, Vanguard-CPV and combined vaccines like Megavac-6, Nobivac-DHPPi, Nobivac-DH-LR, etc.

Although CPV-2 is one of serious infections of dog’s especially young pups, it can be prevented by maintaining proper hygiene and vaccinating pups at right age.

The authors are PhD scholars at Division of Medicine, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar, Bareilly, UP.

The mythical canines!

Man’s association with dogs dates back to centuries. The ubiquitous dog has been considered man’s best friend for as long as this universe existed. So, have our Gods also felt the canine love? Sure, here’s more on our legendary canines!

Pooches in Hindu mythology

Animals have played a significant role in Hindu mythology. Almost all Gods and Goddesses worshipped by thefeactures fun and frolic Hindus have been associated with some animals or the other. Lord Ganesha has the mouse as his vehicle, Lord Yama is seen riding a buffalo, Lord Vishnu flies on Garuda, the eagle, Lord Shiva has a snake wound around his neck, while a peacock carries Lord Subramanyan and Goddess Kali has the royal tiger to take her around. And here’s more about the Gods and their canines:

Lord Shiva’s various incarnations: Bhairava is Shiva’s fierce manifestation, who is accompanied by a dog. Feeding and taking care of dogs is another way of showing devotion to Lord Bhairava. So, devout Hindus on a pilgrimage to Kasi (Benares) visit the temple of Kalabhairava without fail and they believe that the best way to seek His divine blessings is to feed sweetmeats to 11 dogs every Saturday.

Another incarnation of Lord Shiva in other parts of India known as Khandoba, also had the same attributes. Legend has it that Khandoba rode on a dog. Deities such as Rudra and Virabhadra, both incarnations of Lord Shiva, were associated with dogs, and a soubriquet describing Rudra characterizes him as ‘shvapati’ or ‘master of the dog’.

Lord Dattatreya: Lord Dattatreya has four dogs, considered to symbolize the four Vedas – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda and Sama Veda. They follow the Lord as “hounds of heaven -and watchdogs of truth” and are owned by Datta, the greatest hunter for the souls of men.

Yama: Who doesn’t know Yama, the God of Death, who had two ferocious dogs, the offspring of Samara, which guarded the herds of Indra, the king of gods? These dogs reportedly wander among men as messengers of Yama. They also guard the roads leading up to His abode.

Yudhishtira: The last part of the Mahabharata narrates the story of Yudhisthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers, during his journey to heaven. At the peak of Mount Meru, Yudhisthira met Indra, who refused to admit Yudhisthira to heaven because he insisted on bringing along a stray dog, which according to Indra, was an unholy creature not worthy of a place in heaven.

This dog had been a faithful companion to Yudhisthira throughout his long journey on earth. When Indra questioned, “You can leave your brothers behind, not arranging proper cremations for them…and you refuse to leave behind a stray dog?” Yudhisthira replied, “Draupadi and my brothers chose to leave me, and it is not I who left them.” Saying thus, he refused to go to heaven unless the dog was allowed entry by the sentry. At that moment the dog changed its form into God Dharma, Yudhisthira’s father, who was only testing his son.

Kunnathurpadi Sree Muthappan temple: Have you ever heard of a temple where two majestic dogs guard the royal deity? Yes, I am referring to the Kunnathurpadi Sree Muthappan temple in Kerala’s Kannur district. Dogs are considered sacred at this temple and one can see plenty of dogs roaming inside and around the temple. Devotees feed these dogs and the camaraderie between man and his best friend is very much in evidence here. Bronze temple dogs guard the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, which is a concrete structure with tiered roofs that is supported by pillars and decorated with elephants. Even today, the glorious legend of the dog is carried forward by the devout, who care for the animal and feed it religiously at least to cleanse their sins and guarantee a berth in heaven, if not for the love of dogs.

Shirdi Sai Baba – a dog lover too: Anyone who has visited the holy shrine of Shirdi will not miss the divine sight of scores of stray dogs roaming freely within the temple premises unmindful of the lakhs of devotees milling around them. It is believed that Sai Baba loved dogs immensely.

Thus, dogs have a sacred place in our hearts and lives and when they are associated with our Gods, they are divine!

puppy care

Cuddled up moments… with growing canines

All rolled up together…small balls of fur cuddled up like an entity, with closed eyes, they look like angelic beauties. Yes! We are talking about a pack of new born pups. To preserve these gifts of God, we have to be extra careful about their upbringing, especially for the first eight weeks, which has a strong influence on their personality and development. Here’s how to bring up the smartest, healthiest and most disciplined pooch.Puppy care

When a pup is born, his first socialization starts with his mom and it’s the strongest bond… Puppy’s relationship with his mother and siblings during the first eight weeks is most important as it plays a vital role in his development and his attributes, in later life. The first test of life starts with his littermates only, where the smartest one of the pack gets maximum nourishment and mother care. Nature has given an instinct in everyone that helps him survive.

One… Two…and go

In the first two weeks, newborn puppies spend more than 90 percent of their time sleeping… They are unable to produce body heat, so doggy mom just keeps them huddled together for warmth. Their natural instincts guide them to reach their mom for feed and heat. But their legs are so weak that they cannot even crawl, so if mother allows, caretaker or breeder can help puppy in getting nourished. Mother’s milk is important as it is a rich source of antibodies, which helps them grow stronger. Mom takes good care of pups in everyway; she licks and cleans the pups and also cleans pup’s anogenital area, which helps them urinate and defecate.

Three is to flee

At this stage, a pup’s senses become fully active, he can see, smell and feel. He will react to light and respond to loud noises as well… better check yourself, just ring the bell…. or try a torchlight…he will react in an adoring way. He even starts pawing his littermates and moves a little also. Even though he has started relieving himself, he still needs to be cared. He should not be weaned, but we can start giving some supplements to him. And you will also notice the first wag of your pup at this stage…all tails up!

Four and five… let’s socialize

In these two weeks, one will notice the maximum and fastest growth of li’l puppies… they start crawling, walking and even running. They start playing with the littermates and this is the time doggy mom becomes the strict guide, she teaches discipline and set limits for each pup…and this is every pup’s first lesson to behave. The pups now bark and make themselves audible for their needs and requirements.

It is the best time to start socializing with them. They will develop acquaintance with the surroundings and mix well with the human companions as well, besides littermates and other things. The pups also start having first teeth at this stage. Start giving them soft food to chew, the caretaker or the children in house should take this opportunity to start feeding them to develop a long human-canine bonding with them.

Six and Seven…simply heaven

The mamma’s little boy starts looking more like his breed, his muzzle elongates. The expressions become clearer, he barks in defense, whimpers in fear, and wags in excitement. He will start demanding pat and pampering…in a typical pooches’ way.

Now they can eat solid food as well, so start dog food, as mother for sure, will wean them at this stage. The urge to explore newer horizons increases rapidly by the end of this stage; he will sniff for new places and things…always on a lookout for something new.

Eight…please wait!

This is the stage, he is fully aware of his behaviour and knows when to feed, roam, urinate or defecate. He gets used to human intervention in grooming, feeding, and playing etc. During this period, the war of supremacy reaches a newer level, you will observe strong behavioural changes and reactions. At this time, he is ready to leave his littermates and find a new loving family for himself. Are the pet lovers listening ?

Let’s Color our Canine’s Life

Holi is just round the corner and we all look forward to this colourful festival. Well, Holi is undoubtedly the festival of colour but it is not a good idea001 to celebrate Holi with our darling pooches as they can harm their coat. But yes, it seems to be a good time to add colour to their lives. Just like Babu does!

Well, Babu is a 35-year-old who earns a living by looking after the belongings of devotees at Shri Shaneshwar temple at Dongri. He also cleans cars and combined together, earns around Rs 5000 per month. He loves dogs and with his meager earnings, feeds around a dozen stray dogs in his area, besides taking care of their nutrition needs. He buys them milk, eggs, biscuits, and sometimes even meat for them. He may go without food at times, but he always feeds the dogs, such is his canine love!

Another incident that calls for an applause is how Nani, a 3-monthold kitten, who had fallen into a 30-ft deep dry well, was rescued by animal lovers in Kalyan. She was trapped in the well and was kept alive by people who used to send her food in a bucket, which was lowered in the well.

For centuries together, pariahs have been our unpaid protectors. A friendly pat on their back, little food and clean drinking water is all that makes their tails wag. It was really jolting to know that 13 puppies were stuffed into a gunny bag and thrown away, what an inhumane act by humans! But, bravo for the Prajakta Dudhmande, a housewife in Mumbai, went to locate these puppies and managed to save them.

Such inspirational people definitely add colour to life. This Holi, let’s all come forward and bring a difference to the life of at least one stray in our locality. So, here’s wishing you a very Happy and colourful Holi from the team of D&P and yes, of course, our dear Sparkle sends a big woof to all of you.