dog health

Taking care of your diabetic pooch

Diabetes in dogs? Yes, they acquire it too…. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder, and like humans, dogs too can acquire diabetes. Once your pet is diagnosed, the pet parent should take complete care.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs due to malfunction of the endocrine glands. Once the pancreas fails to secrete the right level

dog health

(Pic courtesy:

of insulin needed by the dog to utilise all of the glucose produced by the body, the problem occurs. The causes include heredity, obesity and the administering of certain medication. Also older and bigger dogs are more susceptible to dog diabetes than smaller breeds. Obese female dogs are even more prone to diabetes.

Types of diabetes

There are two types of diabetes: diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus. Lack of vasopressin, which is an anti-diuretic hormone that controls the kidney’s absorption of water, leads to diabetes insipidus. Insulin deficiency leads to diabetes mellitus or ‘sugar diabetes’ wherein the dog’s body cannot metabolise sugar well. It strikes approximately 1 in 500 dogs and is more common and dangerous.

Diabetes mellitus has two groups: Type I and Type II diabetes.

Type I diabetes: It is also referred to as juvenile dog diabetes as it happens in the early age of the dog’s life.

Type II diabetes: It happens with middle and senior aged dogs.

Symptoms of diabetes

Symptoms include high blood sugar levels because the animal’s body is unable to break down and use glucose properly. This inability causes sugar to appear in the urine which causes an excessive amount of urination. The dog thus drinks excessive amount of water. Diabetes mellitus may lead to weight loss in a dog, even after a good diet.

Dogs can also show symptoms of poor coat, liver disease, vomiting, weakness in the rear legs, secondary bacterial infections and dehydration. A life threatening condition known as ketoacidosis can be developed. A diabetic dog can also be inflicted by kidney problems and is prone to blindness.

Diagnosis of diabetes

Blood tests and urine tests help in diagnosing diabetes. The normal levels of blood sugar in dogs are 70 – 150 mg/dl but a diabetic dog’s blood sugar will be more than 200 mg/dl. Your veterinarian will be checking your dog’s urine for glucose.

Treatment of diabetes

The treatment will include right diet and insulin therapy. Your dog might be given a diet, which is high in fibre and complex carbohydrates. This will avoid glucose from increasing after meals and help in regulating blood glucose.

Insulin therapy is done through injections. Your veterinarian will advise on the type of food, amount, times of the day, to give it. Food will be given at least in two feeds. The morning one will be given with the insulin dose and the second one will be given during the peak blood glucose times as determined by your veterinarian.

With regular visit to the veterinarians, monitor the dog’s weight and general health. Providing your pet with the right amount of care will totally be depended on the veterinarian and pet parents.

(The author is CEO/MD of Provimi Animal Nutrition India)

Pawfect dietary care for mother & puppies

The arrival of a litter of puppies is always an exciting experience and to make everything go well, you can rely on your vet’s experience and ‘Birth & Growth’ programme from Royal Canin.

You need to provide the mother, and the litter she is carrying, with a range of nutrients essential for development. They must be found in her diet, otherwise your female dog’s body will draw on its own reserves. Two-thirds of the way through gestation, at around 6-7 weeks, is when foetal development really begins, because this is when they gain weight, increase in size and their skeletons harden. Both the mother and puppies’ needs increase and she can gain around 25 percent of her weight in the week before delivery.

Taking care of the mother

From the 6th week of pregnancy, the mother’s energy, protein and mineral requirements are significantly inline with her puppies’ rapid growth and in preparation for lactation. A very rich, highly digestible, easy to rehydrate and very palatable food meets the needs of the mother and her little ones perfectly right up until weaning. Starter Mini, Medium, Maxi or Giant, according to the mother’s ideal adult weight, fits the bill! Once the puppies are born, they will feed every 3 hours; lactation is an incredibly demanding time for mothers, and her energy needs multiply 3 times in order to produce her very rich milk and rebuild her bodily reserves. Let her eat as much Starter as she likes, always with a bowl of fresh water alongside. She will also need to escape from time to time to stretch her legs – this is a good opportunity to make sure she is in good form and not losing weight.

Weaning made easy

Gradually, driven by curiosity, the puppies will taste their mother’s food, and wean themselves by imitating her. Starter food is easy to hydrate with a little warm water or a special dog milk (Babydog milk) – little by little, from 3 weeks of age to around 7 or 8 weeks, this will be the ideal transition from mother’s milk. With all the nutritional qualities your puppies need, and very palatable, it is also ultra-digestible and meets this very high needs for energy, fats, proteins, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and carefully controlled amounts of minerals and starch. The size of the kibble is specially adapted to the size of the puppies’ jaws, making it easy for them to eat.

Growing up safely

Depending on the puppy’s size or breed, growth is quicker or slower and takes place in successive stages. The Junior Breed Health Nutrition provides him with everything he needs – concentrated energy and digestive security, which help him grow harmoniously and reinforce his own natural defences while taking the specificities of his breed into account.

Dog professionals have chosen Royal Canin for over 40 years. Dogs – and cats – are at the heart of every Royal Canin innovation, because new foods are made for them and them alone, taking account of their real needs, based on proven scientific facts.

Festive care tips for your pooch

It’s festive time again…lots of fun, loads of delicacies, beautiful decorations, many guests, loads of gifts…the time is to let your hair down and enjoy. Somehow, the pooches too get into the festive spirit and dance all around…only to be disrupted by noisy crackers, too many treats, too many guests…oh, we need to take care of our pets. Let’s see how.

The last months of the year are always brimming with festivities all keeping us busy and happy at the same time. While all responsible pet parents out there must have thought of all the care they need to give their pets, here’s a checklist, just in case you forgot one.

Decorations at bay: All those attractive tinsels, strings, glass ornaments, etc that liven up the room are equally appealing to our pooches. But they may like to ‘taste’ them as well. So, keep all the decorations at a height where your pooch cannot reach.

Lightings at arm’s length: Similarly, all the lightings used to liven up the room or the beautiful Christmas tree should be installed where your pooch can’t reach them. He may chew up the wire and get hurt.

Candles – of course away from them: Keep the candles and other lighted stuffs like diyas, agarbattis, etc, where you pet cannot reach and injure himself.

Chocolates – a strict ‘no’: Chocolates can be poisonous for your pooch. Even a small bite can be toxic. So, however hard your pooch may try, do not give in to his soulful pleading eyes.

Avoid table leftovers and delicacies: Do not feed your pooch the table leftovers as they may be loaded with fats and other ingredients not fit for pets. Do not feed them delicacies. Instead, give them a balanced healthy meal and give them doggy treats.

Maintain his schedule: Try to keep your pooch happy and unstressed by maintaining his schedule – take time out for his routine walks and don’t forget his mealtimes.

No pets as gifts: Do not give a pet as a gift to your near and dear ones until they really want one. In that case, let them choose a pup for themselves.

Pet-safe gifts: While buying a present for your pooch, keep in mind that it is safe for him. It can be a toy or a chew bone – something that your pooch enjoys.

Crackers-safe: Dogs get alarmed with loud noises. Keep them safe indoors when people are burning crackers outside. Request your neighbours to use noiseless crackers. Put cotton swabs in his ears. Give him a toy to play. Calm him and do not shout at him.

Guests ‘n’ pooch: Festivals are the time for guests. Too many strangers can make your pet excited. Keep him indoors in a safe place where he is away from the hustle-bustle in the house.

Love – at all times: Festive time is a busy time, but do not forget to give quality time to your pet. Pat him, take him for a walk, play with him – show him how much you love him. After all, festivals are all about spreading love and cheer!!!


Taking care of pearly whites!

Dogs, just like humans, can get cavities. It really cannot be overemphasised just how important it is to keep your dog’s teeth clean. When you clean your dog’s mouth, her gums and her teeth, you are setting her up for a much healthier life


Where to begin

  • This should be fun for your dog. Do not overly restrain your dog. Keep sessions short and positive. Be sure to praise your dog throughout the process.
  • Get your dog used to the flavour and consistency of the toothpaste. If your dog does not lick the paste, you may need to try a different kind.
  • Apply a small amount of paste to your finger and gently rub it on one of the large canine tooth. Be sure to praise your dog when he licks the paste.
  • After your dog is used to the toothpaste and having something applied to his teeth, get him used to the toothbrush. We need to get him used to the bristles on a brush.

Tips to follow

  • Never use human toothpaste. Dogs cannot spit and will eat the toothpaste. Thus, cleaning your dog’s teeth must be done with dog toothpaste.
  • Clean your dog’s teeth a minimum of twice a week.
  • Use either a toothbrush or a finger brush.
  • Brush in circular motions much as you do your own teeth.

How often?

The more often you brush the better. Always aim for daily dental care for your dog. The hardest thing about home dental care for dogs is just getting started. Once you have done it for a while, it just becomes a part of your daily routine. If you cannot brush daily, brushing every other day will remove the plaque.

Other dental care items

groomerAvoid feeding dogs table scraps or sweet treats because they can increase the build up of plaque and tartar and can lead to other health problems. Removal of plaque can be accomplished by using dental toys or rawhide chips. Always supervise your dog when he is chewing on a toy. There are some dental chews that are specifically designed to help control plaque and tartar build-up.

So, if you haven’t brushed your pooch’s teeth, pick up the toothbrush and get, set, go….

(Janhavi Daftary is a canine and feline groomer from Dog Care Grooming Academy, Singapore and she provides home grooming services for dogs and cats in Mumbai.)

Dog Health

Canine cataract: symptoms, treatment and care

How cataract occurs?

There is a lens in the eye which has its place behind the pupil. It is transparent and focuses light onto the

Dog Health

Unilateral Cataract

retina. The retina sends the image to the brain, where vision is perceived. Cataract forms when the cells and the protein of the lens begin to deteriorate. The lens gets cloudy and the light cannot be transmitted to the retina. There are many different forms and causes of cataract formation.

What is a cataract?

The word ‘cataract’ literally means ‘to break down.’ This breakdown refers to the disruption of the normal arrangement of the lens fibers or its capsule. This disruption results in the loss of transparency and the resultant reduction in vision is called cataract. When the opacity is very small, it leads to blurred vision called immature cataract. When the entire lens becomes cloudy and there is loss of all functional vision, it is called mature cataract.

Cataracts vis-à-vis nuclear sclerosis

People often confuse cataract with another common problem called nuclear sclerosis. Nuclear sclerosis is a normal change that occurs in the lenses of older dogs. Nuclear sclerosis appears as a slight graying of the lens. The loss of transparency occurs because of compression of the linear fibers in the lens. It usually occurs in both eyes at the same time and occurs in older dogs. This condition does not significantly affect the vision of the dog and treatment is not recommended.

What are the causes of cataract?

There are several causes of cataracts which include:

Genetic: Cataracts in dogs are frequently inherited. Over 40 breeds of dogs are known to be predisposed to cataract e.g. Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Terriers, etc.

Trauma: If the lens is punctured or damaged due to automobile accident, penetration of a thorn or stick, a cat scratch, etc usually lead to cataract.

Diabetes: Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) is a systemic disease where regulation of blood sugar (glucose) is not controlled. The lens requires some glucose, but when the levels are too high, cataract can form rapidly.

Old age: As animal becomes geriatric, all his body functions generally become sluggish and hence the eyesight. Age-related cataracts are usually very small and tend to progress very slowly.

Other causes: Nutritional deficiencies early in life, changes in blood calcium, exposure to certain drugs and toxins, exposure to intense microwaves, radiation therapy and electrocution may also alter both nutrition and structure of the lens, resulting in cataract.

How can cataract be diagnosed?

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize cataracts and exclude other diseases. These tests include:

Complete eye examination: Such an examination includes fluorescein staining of the cornea, schirmer tear test, slit lamp biomicroscopy, etc.

Blood tests: Blood tests are usually done for diabetes and other systemic diseases.

Ocular ultrasound: Ocular ultrasound is performed if the retina cannot be examined because the cataract is too opaque, and if surgery is being considered.

An electroretinogram (ERG): It is also frequently performed prior to cataract surgery in order to evaluate the function of the retina. An ERG is especially important in determining underlying retinal disease masked by the cataracts (if the lens is too opaque for the entire retina to be examined).

How can cataract be treated?

Treatment for canine cataracts includes surgical removal of the lens, which may include one or more of the following:

Cataract surgery : Phacoemulsification is the most common technique used in both humans and animals to remove a cataract. Once the pupils have been dilated and animal is under general anesthesia, a small incision is made through the cornea. The lens is housed in a small bag called the lens capsule. A small tear is made in the front capsule and a circular piece of the capsule is removed. The phacoemulsification instrument uses ultrasonic waves to break apart the lens and then suck it out. Most of the lenses are removed by phacoemulsification, and then the lens capsule (the “bag”) is cleaned of any remaining lens material. Frequently an intraocular lens implant (a prosthetic lens) is then placed into the lens capsule. The lens capsule acts as a bag to hold the implant in place. There are lens implants for both dogs and cats, and these prosthetic lenses return the vision as close to normal as possible.

Extracapsular lens extraction: This is another cataract removal technique. It is used either when a phacoemulsification machine is not available or when a cataract is so hard or old that the phacoemulsification instrument isn’t powerful enough to break up and remove the lens. The surgical procedure requires making a larger incision through the cornea and a larger hole in the lens capsule so that the lens can be removed from the bag as a whole. A lens implant can still frequently be inserted during this type of procedure.

Intracapsular lens extraction: This is another surgical method that involves making a large incision through the cornea and removing the whole lens in its capsule. This procedure is generally used when a cataractous lens has shifted out of position and is no longer held firmly in place inside the eye. Because the lens capsule has been removed, if a lens implant is going to be used, it has to be sewn into place because there is no capsular bag left to hold it in the center of the eye.

Post-operative care of cataract surgery

Regardless of which type of procedure is used to remove a cataractous lens, there are many postoperative medications and important home care instructions to be followed after surgery.

After cataract surgery, the first one to two weeks are the most labour-intensive. The dog must be kept quiet and calm. Usually an Elizabethan collar is used to keep the dog from rubbing or traumatizing the eye. This collar should stay on at all times. Playing, barking and jumping should be discouraged and all pressure around the head should be minimized. Several topical (drops) and oral medications may be used after surgery, such as:

  • anti-inflammatory drops
  • dilating drops
  • antibiotic ophthalmic drops
  • oral anti-inflammatory drugs
  • oral antibiotics

(Dr S S Patil is PhD scholar at Centre of Advanced Studies in Animal Nutrition, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar; Dr KB Kore is PhD scholar at Division of Animal Nutrition, IVRI, Izatnagar; and Dr PP Mirajkar is MVSc scholar at Division of LES, IVRI, Izatnagar)

Taking Care of your Dog’s Ears..

Dogs have great ears. Your dog can hear sounds over a wider range of frequencies and at a greater distance than you. Unfortunately, dogs pay a price for their superior hearing abilities. A dog’s ear design contributes both to his advanced hearing and to many ear problems he may experience. Ear mites, infections and aural hematoma are the most common conditions. Read on to discover the symptoms of ear disorders in dogs and how to prevent and treat them.

Ear mites

Also called ear mange, ear mites (otodectes cynotis) are tiny crab-like parasites that live in the ear canals, and sometimes on the body of dogs. They feed on earwax and other secretions in the ear canal. Ear mites do not usually bite, but they can cause a bacterial infection or severe inflammation in your dog’s ears.

Symptoms: If your dog is suffering from ear mites, you may find he excessively shakes or tilts his head; or rubs and scratches his ears. You may also notice hair loss around his ears or odor emanating from within his ear canal. To check for ear mites, look inside your dog’s ears for a thick, dark brown substance. Mites can sometimes be seen as small, white moving dots.

Prevention and Treatment: Ear mites are very common, and very contagious, so it is best to keep your dog away from other dogs – or any furry animal – who suffers from them. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, take him to the veterinarian. Ear mites can be persistent, but they are easy to diagnose and you can treat your dog at home. Your veterinarian will clean out your dog’s ears and prescribe anti-mite eardrops. It usually takes four-to-six weeks of treatment to effectively eliminate the mites.


Ear infections are common in dogs – especially dogs with floppy ears – and can be caused by the following factors:

  • Trapped foreign bodies, especially the seedpods of common weeds.
  • Use of eardrops or cleansers that irritate the ears.
  • Health problems such as hormonal imbalance, allergies and food intolerance.
  • High humidity and swimming, which can leave your dog’s ears moist and create a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.

Symptoms: If your dog has an ear infection, he may scratch at his ears or shake his head. You may also find that he has debris or unpleasant-smelling discharge in his ear canal or on his ear flaps, or that his ears are red and hot.

Prevention and Treatment: Keep your dog’s ears dry, and check and clean them once per week. Ask your vet to show you how. If you think your dog may have an ear infection, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Ear infections in dogs are painful, and if left untreated they can spread to the middle and inner ear and cause serious damage. Depending on the seriousness of the infection, your vet will either prescribe antibiotics or simply clean the ear out with solutions.

Aural Hematoma

If your dog shakes his head and ears excessively, due to a problem on the inside, he may develop a hematoma. A hematoma is the result of a blood vessel breaking in the earflap. Symptoms: If your dog develops a hematoma, his earflap will swell noticeably and feel hot to the touch.

Prevention and Treatment: A hematoma is painful and although it will heal on its own, it is wise to take your dog to the vet. Your vet can lance the area to relieve the pressure and let the healing begin. The surgery may also prevent ridging and scarring on the earflap, which may result if you let the hematoma heal on its own.

Ear problems, especially infections, in dogs can be hard to eradicate – but usually because people are not good at following the treatment procedure. Sometimes ear infections require several visits to the vet, and a change of medication. It is very important to ensure that you follow your vet’s recommendations, and continue to bring your dog in for check-ups until the problem is completely eliminated.

Tooth care for a small dogs

Tooth care for a small dogs – keeping their milliom-dollar smile safe!

Teething in small dogs

The adult teeth of small breed dogs (less than 10kg) appear between the age of 4 and 6 months and the fi nal molars come through, at the latest, at around 7 months.

Each half jaw carries 21 teeth including 6 incisors, 2 canines, 8 premolars and 5 molars.

Oral hygiene: starting early

As soon as the puppy’s adult teeth come through, it is important to keep a watch on oral hygiene to prevent the formation of dental plaque and tartar.

Infl ammation of the gum encourages the development of bacteria that produce toxins: the latter attack the tissue that holds the tooth (periodontium), which can come loose. The pain caused by this gingivitis can discourage the dog from eating.

Studies (Harvey & coll., 1994) have shown that small dogs are affected earlier and suffer from more severe periodontal disease.

Dental plaque

Symptoms: This is a felting fi lm of bacteria that allows the calcium present in saliva to deposit and form tartar. This hardens and can then only be removed by an operation systematically performed with a general anaesthetic for dogs: tooth depuration. This phenomenon worsens with age. The immediate consequence is an infl ammation of the gum in the area of friction, then the gingivitis extends (the gum becomes red). The tartar makes the gum recede, laying bare the crown up to the root; the teeth can become loose. A severe infl ammation rapidly becomes very painful for the dog, and generates bad breath; it can cause heart or kidney complications.

Prevention and solution: Daily brushing is the most effective solution as it prevents the formation of dental plaque. It requires both a little time and having accustomed the dog from a young age. Feeding with dental specifi c kibble helps with daily oral hygiene: the size and texture developed specifi cally for this kibble encourage daily superfi cial ‘brushing’ — the greater the contact time between the tooth and the surface of the kibble, the greater the effect.

The addition of salivary calcium chelating agents, such as sodium polyphosphates, reduces the transformation of dental plaque into tartar by fi xing it in the saliva. The latter, produced in greater quantities by chewing dry food, helps mechanical cleaning and enzymatic anti-bacterial action.

Particular predisposition of small dogs

It has been demonstrated (Gioso & coll., 2001) that the thickness of mandible/height of fi rst molar ratio decreases signifi cantly with the size of the dog. For dogs weighing more than 30kg, the thickness of the lower jaw is equivalent to the height of the carnassials. For dogs weighing less than 5kg, this ratio can drop to 0.6, or even 0.5 for Yorkshire Terriers.

When periodontal disease occurs, the progressive destruction of the bone along the root can weaken the jaw and cause fractures. (File developed with the help of the veterinarians of the Royal Canin Research and Development Centre)

Taking care of your puppy’s Health-Bedlington Terriers

Fleas, neutering and spaying, worming, and grooming – all are important concerns for the puppy owner. Get helpful hints on these topics in this article.

Having a new puppy in the home is rather like having a new baby around. It’s not always easy to distinguish serious problems from minor ailments.

Choosing a vet

All licensed vets are trained in professional animal care. You may be drawn to one in particular because of the convenient location of the vet’s clinic, the services he or she provides or simply because you find your vet especially easy to talk to. The only sure thing is that choosing a vet is part of your obligation to your dog. Ask your breeder or friends to recommend a vet.

When should you consult a vet?

It’s a good idea to get your vet to give your new puppy a check-up as soon as you get him. You can discuss vaccinations, de-worming and general puppy care. Seek advice from your vet if your puppy refuses food for more than a day, if he has diarrhoea or vomiting, or if he is lethargic for no reason.


If you don’t intend to breed your dog, then you should seriously consider neutering. Spaying and neutering an animal will cause minimal discomfort. Spaying and neutering can reduce the risk of several different conditions later in life. Your vet can advise you about when it’s best to have the operation done. If you decide not to get the operation for your dog, you should be prepared for some unexpected changes.

Unneutered males, for example, will often roam after female dogs in heat and will become aggressive. If you do not wish your female dog to become pregnant, you must carefully supervise her when she is in heat. They are also prone to phantom (or false) pregnancy, which could require veterinary treatment.


Many puppies are born with roundworms. To ensure that your puppy thrives, it is important to get rid of these worms. There are many safe, effective products available for this purpose, and your vet will be able to prescribe a suitable treatment. A professional breeder will usually give puppies worm treatments from the age of three weeks, repeating as and when necessary. Check with the breeder and talk to your vet about your puppy’s de-worming programme.

Many adult dogs also carry roundworms. To ensure that your dog stays worm-free, continue to de-worm him every six months for the rest of his life, or discuss frequency with your vet.


If you notice fleas in your dog’s coat, visit your vet, who can recommend an effective treatment for the elimination of fleas. If you choose to buy flea powders or sprays in a store, check that these are suitable for use on puppies. If your dog has fleas, you need to treat his environment as well. Wash all the dog’s bedding. Wash the basket and clean the boxes, corners, rugs and furniture. Use dusting flea powders or aerosols. If you are in any doubt about a particular flea product, ask your vet for advice. There are also many professional companies that can treat your home for flea infestations.

Eyes and ears

Your dog’s eyes and ears should always be clean. The eye area can be gently cleaned with moist cotton swabs. The ears can be wiped with dry cotton batting. This must be done carefully, without poking anything inside.


Your dog’s claws should be checked. If you walk your dog on hard surfaces (such as asphalt), remember that the claws wear down, and in this case, you don’t need to do anything. However, if your dog walks mostly on grass, his claws will need regular trimming. Your breeder or vet can show you how to do this properly.

Teeth and gums

Puppies enjoy chewing on everyday household objects. Discourage your dog from doing this, and provide him with specially designed toys for chewing. Although puppies will generally not have problems with their teeth or gums, plaque can quickly build up at the base of the teeth. This can cause gum disease in dogs as young as 12 months. To reduce the risk of this happening, regularly check your pet’s teeth. For adult dogs, special dog biscuits or chews are very beneficial, and help clean the plaque off your dog’s teeth. You can also introduce tooth brushing at this age.

Bathing and grooming

As a general rule, dogs should be bathed infrequently or only when necessary. They may need a bath when they have fleas or when they’re dirty and a simple brushing is not enough to get the dirt out. Much depends on the dog’s breed. Smooth-coated dogs require minimal grooming, while dogs with longer coats should be groomed every day. A responsible dog owner should have a good grooming brush and comb, preferably one that has been specially developed for dogs. Poodles require clipping every six to eight weeks. Dogs with silky coats, such as Cocker Spaniels, should be trimmed every three months. Dogs with wiry-haired coats, such as Terriers, need to be clipped every six to eight weeks. Each breed is different, so always consult your breeder for more detailed information.

Skin care regimen for your K9

Skin is the largest organ of the body representing 15-25% of body weight. Rightly called “first line of defence,” it protects other body parts from weather extremities, ultra violet radiations and injuries, which makes skin care regimen all the more important. Here’s a piece of advice on the same.

A healthy skin truly represents dog’s good health condition. Cleanliness is one of the important factors to keep your dog’s skin healthy and intact, besides making him look good. Here are a few tips for dog skin care:

    • Feed proper diet as per dog’s requirement. Add vitamins- A, B, C, E and Brewers yeast in diet.
    • For dogs having dry skin, essential fatty acids should be fed additionally.
    • Avoid bathing frequently as it removes the natural oils present on the coat, which act as weather proofing agent.

Dogs sweat very less as they don’t have sufficient sweat glands. The dog’s dermal skin layer has two types of glands that produce fluids. The apocrine glands have two other functions in dogs – they help to seal the outer layer of the epidermis and they secrete pheromones that give dogs a distinctive body odour. The eccrine glands in the pads of the paws produce a watery secretion similar to human sweat.

Skin diseases

Skin problems arise from external as well as internal reasons like injury from foreign objects, nibbling teeth, scratching, external parasites, and internal infections or autoimmune diseases. The most common reasons for skin irritation are contact and inhalant allergies, which lead to serious problems like hot spots, hair loss and crusty lesions. Allergy is caused by release of histamines by body in its effort to protect from foreign agents. These histamines produce the itching sensation. Whenever you find your dog itching, contact your vet immediately.

Skin parasites

Mites, fleas and ticks are most common parasites of the skin. Mange is of two types, based on the causative agent – demodectic and sarcoptic. Mange mites live under the skin and cause irritation and hair loss. Some people believe that susceptibility to demodectic mange is inherited because the disease manifests in puppies also. But it’s not true because the mites never go to the foetus. It is only the physical transmission of the mites to new-born pups. Sarcoptic mange (also called scabies) causes severe itching and can infect dogs of all breeds. This mite lays eggs under the skin. Itching occurs commonly on the elbows, ears, armpits, chest and belly region. If red colour small pustules develop along with yellow crust on the skin, consult your vet immediately.

Similarly, ticks and fleas also cause severe problem to dogs. Some dogs become allergic to flea bites and fleas also act as vectors for tapeworms. Ticks are more difficult to tackle than fleas. They suck blood and also act as vector for various diseases.


Shampoos and sprays are the most commonly used topical treatments. Shampoos are mainly of three types – cleansing, antiparasitic, and medicated. Cleansing shampoos remove dirt and excess oils from the coat. Antiparasitic shampoos are mostly used for ticks and fleas. Medicated shampoos include antimicrobial and antiseborrheic products. The most widely used antibacterial shampoos contain chlorhexidine or benzoyl peroxide. Ketocnazole and Miconazole shampoos are usual therapy for the treatment of Malassezia infections. Antiseborrheic shampoos mostly contain sulphur which is keratolytic and also have antiseptic properties. Sulphur is also recommended for scaly seborrhoea.

Before using a medicated shampoo, the pet should be washed properly with a cleansing shampoo and rinsed well. The medicated shampoo should be applied evenly to the hair coat after diluting it in water. The medicated shampoo should be left on the skin for 10 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly from the coat as shampoo residue is a common cause of irritant reactions.

In a nutshell, the skin of your pet requires continuous care, right from grooming to good nutrition and prevention to treatment. Don’t take skin problems lightly, consult your vet before the problem aggravates.

(Dr. Avinash Srivastava, M.V.Sc. (IVRI), PGDPM (Symbiosis) is Technical Manager (Livestock and Canine) at Vetnex. He can be contacted at 09350506830 or

Taking Care of the Elderly

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

Signs of aging

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

Early warning signs

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

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

Preventative health care

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

Dental care

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

Dealing with overweight dog

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

Exercise for older dogs

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

Grooming an older dog

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


Health screening tests for senior pets

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

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

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