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Ask the expert… | Jan Feb 13

Dr K G Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer in clinical medicine at Vet College in Bangalore for 15 years, and has won the ‘best teacher’ award in the year 2000. He is a member of European Society for Vet Dermatology and is currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia. Q. My dog Mumtaz, a seven-year-old Spitz, has been diagnosed with diabetes. She is on dog food; we also give her roti and curd. Please do advice food and medical care to be taken. – T Raghav, Coimbatore

Dr KG Umesh: Dogs generally develop type I diabetes which typically requires lifelong insulin injections. The goal of treating a diabetic animal is to minimise blood glucose fluctuations, eliminate the symptoms associated with high blood glucose levels (excessive drinking, urination and appetite), and improve the quality of the pet’s life. The most important factor in a diabetic animal’s life is routine. You have to follow instructions meticulously given on medications and diet. As in diabetic people, a good daily routine of eating and exercising for diabetic pets will help prevent irregular fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Diets that are high in simple carbohydrates (sugars), which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, are avoided. Diets containing complex carbohydrates and fibre are preferable, in moderation. There are several different commercial prescription diets available that can meet the needs of all diabetic patients. Achieving and maintaining an ideal body weight is helpful in the treatment of both type I and type II diabetes mellitus. Once your pet has started any treatment for diabetes mellitus, monitoring for signs of low sugar levels (hypoglycemia) is also very important. Too much insulin/low sugar levels can cause disorientation, sluggishness, seizures, coma, and even death, if prolonged. If you notice that your pet seems disorientated or weak but is still responsive, offer food immediately. If your pet is unconscious (cannot be awoken despite loud calling and shaking), apply a sugary solution like corn syrup or maple syrup to the gums. In both of these cases, contact your veterinarian. Likewise, watch for general signs of illness, which can include changes in appetite, weight loss, decrease in activity, sluggishness, dull or poorly kept coat, and changes in behaviour such as hiding and aggressiveness.

Q. What are the main dog vaccines to give and what is their frequency in the life span of a dog? Do any of the vaccines have any side effects which can be harmful? – Karuna Sabharwal, Bareilly

Dr KG Umesh: In the past, infectious diseases, such as those caused by parvovirus and distemper virus, have been significant cause of illness and death in dogs, especially young animals. Vaccination against these and other diseases like hepatitis, influenza, leptospirosis (all in one) has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. It is important to discuss a suitable vaccination programme including rabies and coronavirus with your local veterinarian. The vaccination will involve an initial course of injections (usually at six weeks of age), followed by booster injections at various times (every 2-3 weeks) until 20 weeks of age and then every year throughout your dog’s life. These booster injections help maintain his immunity, but they also provide a good opportunity for your veterinarian to carry out a full health check.

Q. Guddu, my GSD pup, is chewing everything in the house. Please help. – Karan Shukla, Agra

Dr KG Umesh: It is normal for puppies to be ‘mouthie’. Most chewing behaviour is seen in young puppies due to their strong desire to explore. As dogs mature, this desire decreases and they are less likely to be destructive. The dog will find it hard to distinguish between what it can and cannot chew; therefore having their own toys will help define suitable chewing items. There are many suitable toys for dogs and choose toys which have been manufactured using high-quality molded materials to increase durability. If the puppy does try to bite, command ‘NO’, and distract his attention with a toy. Many of these habits can be modified quite easily if done correctly and persistently. When the pup stops the bad behaviour, make sure you reward the pup with ‘GOOD (puppy’s name)!’ Prevent access to unacceptable chew items. Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction.

Q: My 11-year-old Dalmatian named Silky has lost two front teeth. What do I do? – Madhu Ghosh, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: Just like people, they need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. Tartar accumulates, and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red, and swell. At this point, without medical intervention, gingivitis or inflammation of the gum takes over. This process leads to bad breath. And worse, it often leads to damage of jawbones, and loss of teeth. Please consult your vet if your pet has lost teeth due to trauma or any other disease.

You can lightly brush Silky’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque deposits. A child’s nylon toothbrush dipped in a toothpaste made for dogs should be used. Do not use toothpaste made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs, if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews (Dentastix) result in a significant reduction of plaque and calculus accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog foods also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.

Q. I have adopted two St Bernards – Tipsy (female, three months) and Turvy (male, four months). I have adopted them from different breeders – need your advice how to bring two dogs up. Also, I will like to mate them, so when is the right time to do so? – Harpreet, Ludhiana

Dr KG Umesh: Pet parenting a dog is a big responsibility and giving your dog the best care and attention can help to improve the quality and length of your dog’s life. 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 and foods which deliver additional health benefits. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. May be one of the most important aspects to ensure a happy relationship between you, your family and your dog is to ensure that your dog’s requirements can be matched by your lifestyle and environment. Most vets recommend mating after first ‘heat’ or few months after they become adults. St Bernars are considered puppy until age of 24 months.

Ask the expert… | Oct Nov 12

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer in clinical medicine at Vet College in Bangalore for 15 years, and has won the ‘best teacher’ award in the year 2000. He is a member of European Society for Vet Dermatology and is currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My dog loves to chew grass. Is it normal? How should I stop this habit?
– Sahana Sharan, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Contrary to the common perception that grass eating is associated with observable signs of illness and vomiting, one study found that grass eating is a common behaviour in normal dogs unrelated to illness and that dogs do not regularly vomit afterward. Vomiting seems to be incidental too, rather than caused by plant eating. It is not uncommon for dogs to eat grass and is generally un-harmful to the dog providing the grass has not been chemically treated. The dog will often vomit the chewed grass with frothy saliva, not long after eating it. One suggestion for dogs doing this is to relieve an excess of digestive juices that accumulate in the stomach when it is empty. Some dogs will graze on fine grass and may even digest it to provide roughage in the diet. It is important that dog’s main diet is nutritionally balanced and the correct amount of food is being fed for the dog’s life stage. If the grass eating is accompanied by prolonged or persistent vomiting, and particularly if the vomitus contains blood, veterinary advice should be sought.

Q: My dog is one year old and has developed Wobblers Syndrome. Please suggest treatment.
– Karthik, Bengaluru

Dr KG Umesh: Cervical Stenotic Myelopathy (CSM) or Wobbler Syndrome or Cervical Malformation describes a syndrome of compression of the cervical spinal cord as a result of degenerative changes in the spine in neck region. Clinical signs include progressive incordination, weakness in all limbs and, sometimes, neck pain. Signs in the hind limbs are more severe than the front limbs. CT scan or MRI is required to diagnose these cases. It is recommended that dogs with neurological deficits are treated surgically, as this is a chronic progressive disease. Dogs who are non-ambulatory may respond to conservative management but surgery is strongly recommended. Conservative management includes treatment of pain with anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants, and restriction of unmonitored activity combined with controlled exercise and physical therapy. Acupuncture can be useful for controlling chronic pain in some dogs.

Q: My pet Lafro is suffering from megaesophagus – she cannot chew food, she can only swallow food, so we have to give her liquid food only. What can be done- and how do we manage this condition in the long run?
– Ekta Kapoor, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: In animals, like in people, the esophagus is the tube that carries swallowed food from the mouth down into the stomach. Megaesophagus is a disorder characterised by decreased movement and dilation or distension of the esophagus. As a result, food does not pass from the mouth to the stomach appropriately and can sit in the esophagus or be brought back up through the throat and out the mouth (regurgitation). Pets with megaesophagus are at greater risk for developing pneumonia (lung infection), since food and liquids sitting in the esophagus or being regurgitated can be accidentally inhaled into the lungs (aspiration pneumonitis). The goals of treating an animal with megaesophagus are to eliminate the cause when possible, minimise the frequency of regurgitation, prevent overdistention of the esophagus, maintain a good level of nutrition and body condition, prevent or rapidly identify and treat complications, such as aspiration pneumonia, and improve the overall quality of the pet’s life. Food and water should be maintained in an elevated position (by placing food and water bowls on a table or stepstool) so that gravity can help move food through the esophagus, toward the stomach. Ideally animals are held in a sitting, upright position for as much as 10 to 15 minutes after eating or drinking, to help food and water flow down into the stomach. Some patients will require the placement of a temporary or permanent feeding tube in order to maintain an adequate level of nutrition. This tube allows for food and water to be administered directly into the stomach or intestines. Megaesophagus is a potentially serious and sometimes even life-threatening illness. The prognosis varies dramatically with the underlying cause of the disease, the presence of secondary complications.

Q: My German Shepherd puppy is having runny nose and not eating well. He is not active and seems to be lazy. Please do advice.
– Vipin Rana, Patna

Dr KG Umesh: Any puppy showing respiratory signs with poor appetite require immediate medical attention. The underlying cause could be serious viral infections like distemper in unvaccinated puppies to simple allergies. Please take him to your vet ASAP.

Q: Nawab – my Golden Cocker – has frequent ear problems. He keeps shaking and scratching his ears and sometimes there is a brown smelly discharge. We tie a loose band or ribbon when we give him food. Do help.
– Meghna, Pathankot

Dr KG Umesh: Otitis externa is inflammation of the outer ear canal. In pets with otitis externa, the skin that lines the outer ear often becomes red, itchy and painful. Pus, waxy material, and other debris can accumulate. Otitis externa can cause head shaking, scratching and rubbing, a foul odour, abnormal behaviour or even irritability, and hearing loss in long-term situations. There are many underlying causes that include allergies, parasites and endocrine disorders. Some pets like spaniels are predisposed which have narrower than normal ear canals and long, hanging (floppy) ears. Debris can accumulate more easily in these ears, creating an environment in which organisms (bacteria, yeast, fungi) can thrive and trigger intense inflammation. The treatment for otitis externa requires controlling the inflammation and then treating the underlying cause of the problem, if the cause can be determined. Depending on the cause, treatment of otitis externa can be nothing more than matter of placing medication in your pet’s ears and performing regular cleanings, or it can involve a long-term commitment to treating recurrent problems. Keeping your pet’s ears clean is important because it helps prevent an environment in the ears that promotes inflammation. Your vet can show you how to properly do this and which ear cleaning products are safe to use with your pet.

Ask the Expert.. Nov Dec 2012

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My two male Persians get into ego hassles and start battling each other. How do we make them more cordial

ask the expert cats

Billu

to each other and if they get in an aggressive situation- how do we separate them?
– R Ramesh, Mysore

Dr KG Umesh: Cats are territorial creatures and they do like to go outdoors to establish a territory in relation to neighbouring cats. This is far more important for toms (male cats) than it is for queens (female cats). Tom cats may establish a territory which is 10 times larger than that of queens. The territory of a domestic cat will be centred on his own home-base and he will use smells, sounds, scratches and other marks to define the boundaries. The territory of a cat only remains fixed for as long as the cat dominates the area – if another cat arrives on the scene, there may be a confrontation, boundaries may have to be redrawn, and life goes on. Treatment for aggression between cats living in the same household requires separation when supervision is not possible. Treating intercat aggression takes time (sometimes months), so, patience is a necessity. The aggressor is banished to a less desirable location (for example, spare room) while the victim is allowed free range or access to favourite locations. The aggressor can be fitted with a harness or collar and bells, allowing both victim and pet parent to hear the aggressor at all times. At the first sign of aggression, the aggressor should be startled using the mildest stimulus necessary. The stimulus (for example, calling his name) used to startle the aggressor is meant to interrupt and distract but not to terrify the cat, as fear can increase aggression. Reintroduction is gradual and supervised at all times, with you vigilant during these sessions. It is also important to provide strictly indoor cats with a stimulating environment that includes playing and searching opportunities, hiding places, and high perched resting areas. Neutering and medications to controlling undesired behaviours are other options.

Ask the Expert.. Sep Oct 2012

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My cat is extremely vocal when I put on my shoes to step out- he keeps following me and keeps a close contact. My family says after I leave, he sulks and hides in a corner – he sometimes eats very little too. How do I calm him?
– Karuna, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Cats communicate in several different ways, using not only sounds but also posture and

ask the expert cats

Paly

behaviour. Tactile communications include rubbing against others including people, grooming and nose touching which is used as greeting. Auditory communications include purring, which occurs primarily during contact with other individual. The trill or meow is used as greeting calls. As long as cats are given plenty of stimulation and space, they can live contented lives. Enrichment of the living space is particularly important to ensure the cat feels secure and avoids boredom. Environmental enrichment is a means of providing your cat with opportunities to express his normal range of behaviour when he lives in a physically limited environment. Allowing your cat interesting opportunities to play, ‘hunt’, feed and be friendly will help prevent problems which can arise from boredom in confined cats. Toys (particularly hanging or moving), feeding puzzles, making use of resting places at a range of heights and different locations and access to a view of the outdoors all help stimulate indoor cats. For example, cats love watching birds attracted to a feeding table outside a window! Food treats or toys left in cardboard boxes encourage cats to explore, hide and play. It’s important that cats kept exclusively indoors are given plenty of contact from their pet parents as this helps make up for less stimulation in other ways.

Ask the expert… | Sep -Oct 12

Dr K G Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer in clinical medicine at Vet College in Bangalore for 15 years, and has won the ‘best teacher’ award in the year 2000. He is a member of European Society for Vet Dermatology and is currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My German Shepherd who is five years old seems to be passing gas/fart, as sometimes there is a stinky stench around him. He is on home cooked food. Do advice what do I do.
– Kishore Jain, Haldwani

Dr KG Umesh: Most of the gas that forms in the intestine comes from air swallowed during eating or through panting. Some gases are formed from bacterial fermentation of poorly digested carbohydrate or fiber in the colon. Also, malodorous gas may be generated by metabolic disturbances in the breakdown of food components. While it’s a natural part of your dog’s digestive process, the tendency to pass gas increases as your dog ages. German Shepherds are also prone to develop digestive disturbances because of their sensitive stomach. There are a number of ways you can help decrease your dog’s intestinal gas. Check your dog food ingredients like soy or poor carbohydrates which can be hard to digest. Feed reputed commercial dry food which are digestible and meet all his nutritional requirements. Cut out table scraps. Exercise not only helps move intestinal gas, it may also simulate bowel movements. Raise your dog’s food dish. Elevating your dog’s dish means he’s not bending his neck down as far, which can lead to swallowing too much air. Therapy is directed toward reducing the carbohydrate content of the diet, reducing gas surface-active tension, reducing intestinal bacterial colonisation, and improving gut motility. The combination of Yucca schidigera, Zinc acetate or charcoal may help to reduce malodor of flatus in dogs as shown in a study at Waltham. Ask your vet for help.

Q: We have two Labradors – four and seven years old. How can I crate train them for a flight?
– Shivani Puri, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Before making your booking, make sure the airline does not have any restrictions that will inhibit you from traveling with your pets. Make sure you visit a vet before traveling and make sure your pets are as fit and healthy as possible to withstand the journey. Give them a light meal about two hours before they travel. Let your pets ‘try out’ the carrying container before the trip. Give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet before putting them in their carrying container. If the pets look very anxious/nervous, your vet may advise mild sedatives/travel sickness pills that help them to settle comfortably during travel. The carrying container (Transport Crate) should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for the animals to move around, safe and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily refillable containers for a long journey. It is advisable to have a leak proof bottom in the crate that is covered with plenty of absorbent material. Put a familiar-smelling cushion or rug in the container to help your pets settle.

Q: Symphony, my three-year-old Dachshund, is shedding a lot. I see some hair loss around his eyes and snout. There are two patches on his body too. Please help.
– David, Kalimpong

Dr KG Umesh: Dogs have unique hair growth cycle and seasonal hair shedding. Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics or health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and is physiological/normal. Dogs may also shed excessive hair because of stress, harsh climate and general illness. If the degree of shedding appears abnormal or associated with rashes, itching or any signs of serious skin problems or fleas, consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions such as thyroid disease or skin allergies can cause excessive shedding. Some tips to prevent or reduce hair shedding include daily brushing or at least two good brushings per week, regular bathing with a rich oatmeal or moisturising shampoo (do not use human shampoo or soap) and feeding a high quality diet: a diet that is rich in fatty acids, minerals like zinc and digestible proteins to keep your dog’s coat strong and healthy, and help decrease excessive shedding.

Q: The saliva of my dog seems a little thick and has some traces of red. She is salivating more. We feed her dog food- but now she has become fussy and likes only soft food- we are making rice and dal with chicken broth (with no bones). Please help.
– Swati Mahesh, Chennai

Dr KG Umesh: Your pet may be suffering from oral disease involving gums/teeth or inflammation in mouth. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. Tartar accumulates, and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red, and swell (Gingitivitis). This may cause pain while chewing solid food. First take her to your vet for examination of her mouth to rule out any other problems and he may suggest dental scaling if she has bad tartar/plaque. Following this, you can lightly brush the dog’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque deposits. A child’s nylon toothbrush dipped in toothpaste made for dogs should be used. Do not use tooth pastes made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews (Dentastix) help in reducing tartar accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog food may also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.

Q: My nine months old Labrador loves to eat and tries to gobble a lot of things- which are non food items. While walking him I have noticed certain small objects, such as a toothpaste cap in his stool. How do we deal with this habit of his?
– Anubhav Chandra, Jaipur

Dr KG Umesh: It is normal for puppies to be ‘mouthie’. Most of such behaviour is seen in young puppies due to their strong desire to explore. As dogs mature, this desire decreases and they are less likely to be destructive. This type of behaviour may start after a change in the dog’s routine or as a result of boredom. The dog will find it hard to distinguish between what it can and cannot chew, therefore having their own toys will help define suitable chewing items. Provide chew toys that do not resemble in appearance or texture of unacceptable chew items. For example, a plush toy may be similar to a pillow, child’s stuffed animal or chair cushion. Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction. Prevent access to unacceptable chew items. Reward your dog with praise for chewing on appropriate items. A well-trained dog makes everyone happy, including his pet parent.

“If there’s something that you want to know about YOUR pet but don’t know where to look or who to ask – log on to: www.wer4pets.com where the Collective Intelligence of PET LOVERS from all over will help out along with Expert advice.”

Ask the Expert.. July Aug 2012

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My five-year-old Persian cat is having hard stool; he sometimes passes stool after 2-3 days. We give him a mix of home and cat food (dry). Is he suffering from constipation?
– Hari, Vadodara

Dr KG Umesh: Constipation is a frequent sign of large intestine problem in cats. Constipation can result from simple causes like bone, hair ball, and lack of exercise or old age. Other causes include injury to pelvis or motility disorders, mega colon (dilated intestine) or problem with nerves controlling intestine. Administration of safe laxative is usually sufficient to take care of simple problems. However, if constipation continues and cat shows signs of pain or discomfort, then vet attention should be sought. Mix of home and dry manufactured food may not meet your cat’s requirements. Feed complete pet food from a reputed pet food manufacturer.

Ask the Expert : July Aug 12

Q: I am taking care of a dog who met with an accident in November 2011. He had a fracture in lumber region near pelvic girdle but now he is walking. He is suffering from ask the expertanal fistula and urine and stool problem. He is trying to pass stool and urine but in an uncontrolled way. He urinates while walking, sleeping, climbing steps, etc. But when he tries to urinate, he cannot. Please advice.
– Jaya Iyer, Nagpur

Dr KG Umesh: There is a possibility that your dog’s previous injury has resulted in progressive damage to disk material in the area surrounding the spinal cord and/or spinal cord/pelvic injury/inflammation. This may cause weakness or paralysis of the hind limbs and loss of bladder or bowel control depending on location and severity/nature of the damage. To confirm spinal disorder (also rule out other causes) and to determine the location of the lesion, your vet may run blood test, spinal fluid tap, radiographs, CT scan or MRI. Based on the diagnostic tests and neurologic assessment, your veterinarian will determine a prognosis, which is an anticipated outlook for recovery. Dogs vary tremendously in their ability to recover, and in many cases, the only way to know for sure whether recovery is possible is to proceed with treatment (including surgery, if necessary) and nursing care and observe any progress over the next two to six weeks. The spinal cord can take weeks or months to recover. You must be prepared for a long-term commitment if you choose to treat the injury. Perianal fistula is a severe, chronic disease of the area around the anus. Multiple draining tracts are present, which are deep fissures in the skin surrounding the anus. The anal sacs themselves are not involved. Many dogs are affected for no apparent reason. There are no preventative measures to guarantee that the problem never returns. There are medical or surgical options available to manage and cure this problem. Please contact your vet.

Q: My two-year-old male Pomeranian barks excessively, especially when I leave home, when the door bell rings, when the maid picks up the broom to sweep, when somebody new comes in, dogs, etc. Do let me know the reasons for his behaviour and how can I control it.
– Shikha Saxena, Jaipur

Dr KG Umesh: Reasons why your dog barks excessively can be complex and must be determined before you can begin fixing the behaviour. Those reasons vary from dog to dog, but include greeting, play, territory and self defense, sight of other animals, separation from family (anxiety), to get attention and a sudden loud noise. Try identifying what triggers the behaviour and use systematic desensitisation and counter-conditioning techniques. Unfortunately, pet parents often attempt to silence their dog by shouting at him, but because the dog’s communication skills don’t extend to understanding your language, he simply assumes the pet parents are barking too and continues undeterred, or even redoubles the effort. Other dogs discover barking makes their pet parent pay attention to them, if only to shout ‘Quiet!’

Eventually the dog may seem to develop an imagination, and bark at nothing at all, just to get a response from his pet parent. However, the main reason dogs learn to bark excessively at every person who passes their territory is the simple fact that most of those people go away again. The dog doesn’t realise they didn’t want to come in. He thinks he has successfully chased them off.

Some tips to control or reduce excessive barking include socialisation of your pet with other animals and people. Reward is, of course, the best motivation of behaviour, so it’s important to praise the dog while he’s doing the right thing, not afterwards. Exercise and play with your dog regularly. Try to increase non-vocal play (for example, fetch) and exercise. Counter-conditioning is an effective way to stop nuisance barking. That is, create a new, more desirable response to the stimulus, like playing with a chew toy rather than barking. If your dog is defending his territory, try blocking visual/hearing access to intruders on or near territory. Your dog might have anxiety related barking, if so, medication should be considered. Please consult your veterinarian regarding medications that may be useful for your situation. As always, we strongly recommend enrolling your dog in obedience classes. With the knowledge from the classes, teach them a ‘settle’ or ‘quiet’ command to use during desensitisation.

Q: I want to adopt a Great Dane. Please advice me about health problems to watch out for.
– R Kapoor, Mussoorie

Dr KG Umesh: The amount of time taken for a growing puppy to achieve adult bodyweight varies considerably, with larger breeds having a longer growth period (20-24 months) than smaller breeds. Excess feeding/energy and excessive calcium during this growth are associated with an increased incidence of skeletal defects like Hipdysplasia and Osteochondrosis. Great Dane is also susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus and dilated cardiomyopathy. Some of the problems may be inherited/congenital, which include atrioventricular valve dysplasia, Subaortic stenosis and Wobbler syndrome. Well, these problems should not discourage anyone to keep this most adorable breed as a family member.

Q: My dog Turbo, a Cocker, continuously scratches and injures himself. On checking, I saw black specks which seemed like flea dirt but could not spot the fleas. How should I manage this?
– Avinash Gulati, Indore

Dr KG Umesh: There are several causes of itching in dogs from infection to parasites. Flea bite allergy is a common cause of itching in pets. It occurs when a flea bites an animal who is allergic to proteins in the flea’s saliva. Non-allergic animals usually develop very mild itchiness at the site of a flea bite for only a brief time after the flea bite. However, animals with flea bite allergy can develop intense itchiness anywhere on the body (most common at lower back). Evidence of fleas consists of finding adult fleas, ‘flea dirt’ (brown-black specks that consist of flea excrement containing digested blood) and/or flea eggs (white specks) on the affected pet or other pets in the household. Animals with flea bite allergy often have only a few fleas or sometimes no fleas on them at all at the time of examination because the fleas are often dislodged as a result of the animal’s excessive scratching, chewing and licking of the skin. Treatment and prevention of flea bite allergy requires the elimination of fleas from the flea allergic pet, the pet’s immediate environment (yard, house), and other dogs and cats in the household with products that kill the adult flea (adulticide therapy) and prevent fleas from reproducing (insect growth regulators). Nowadays, oral or topical (applied to the skin) prescription anti-flea products are given to the pet at home once or twice a month and are very effective. Be sure to use the treatments exactly as prescribed; misuse, or using over-the-counter (nonprescription products) are common reasons for failure to eliminate fleas.

Q: I have a two-month-old Lab. What is the right age and method to neuter him?
– Ashok Rai, Mangalore

Dr KG Umesh: This has been an area of debate for several years. Associations between medical or behavioural conditions and early-age neutering ( 6 months). Today, many shelters and high-volume shelter clinics perform sterilisation surgeries in puppies as early as six to eight weeks of age. The most common surgical methods of contraception are spaying in female dogs or castration in male dogs. Spaying/castration is an irreversible means by which a dog is rendered sterile. The procedure entails complete removal of the uterus and ovaries in females and testicles in male. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what exactly is involved with the operation and also on the best time for it to be performed.

Ask the Expert.. May June 2012

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: I have a five years old cat (male) and want to get another three and a half months old kitten in. How should I introduce them and take care of both of them? Is it ok to adopt a female cat or should I look at adopting a male cat?
– Sudhakar, Gurgaon

Dr KG Umesh: Whatever your reasons to add another cat to the family, just be aware that bringing in a new cat is a huge change for an older cat – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. When a new cat is introduced into the household, it is wise to let her familiarise herself with her surroundings before she meets any resident cats or other animals. Here are a few ways you can help make the process of introducing your older cat to a new cat less stressful: All you need to do is rub your new kitten with an old piece of your clothing, one that holds your smell. That way, your new kitten will already have something familiar about her and will be accepted more easily. Since your new kitten is still young, there shouldn’t be any major problems. The pecking order will immediately be determined by the difference in ages. In most cases, the kitten will follow the lead of the older cat, who’ll protect the new and vulnerable arrival. It’s slightly more tricky if an older kitten is being introduced to a younger one, since her more developed self-confidence can lead to minor fights. Tom cats may establish a territory which is ten times larger than that of queens. In this case, start by making much more fuss of the younger kitten and then let the two of them settle. While they get used to each other, make sure that they have separate food and water bowls, and their own sleeping places and litter trays. Feeding old cat first at meal times is a good trick. They’ll soon be completely content in each other’s company.

Ask the Expert : May June 12

Q: My 10-year-old Rottweiler Tarzan has developed a mole between his paws – it was ask the expertoperated two years back but now it has grown back again causing him pain. He has other moles on his body- but the one on his paw makes him limp. Please advice.
– Vinita Patel, Vadodara

Dr KG Umesh: Neoplastic or non-neoplastic disorders may cause growth between fingers in senior dogs. If the growth has come back, your vet may consider doing a biopsy that will be sent to a laboratory for analysis by a pathologist. This will help determine the type of growth, and whether or not it’s malignant/cancer. Bear in mind that not all growths are cancerous. Therefore I would suggest biopsy to identify the underlying cause. There are no specific preventive measures available for warts/moles.

Q: I have a German Shepherd named Radhe who is four months old but his ears are not standing properly. Also do advice me on the food to feed him and any tips for his care.
– Ayush Bissa, Jodhpur

Dr KG Umesh: If there are no signs of ear infection or deformity, this can be considered ‘normal’ and many a time they become erect as ear cartilage becomes tough. Wait and watch until he grows to an adult. A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a puppy in order to prepare him for an active, long and healthy life. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start. The advantages of reputed commercially prepared foods are that they meet all a dog’s nutritional requirements and they don’t require any food supplements including calcium. 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 deworming and booster doses for all vaccinations including rabies.

Q: Just bought a three-month-old Labrador puppy. We stay close to forested area, the other day I noticed a leech on my puppy, was advised to rub salt and take it off. Do let me know if this is fine. How do I protect my puppy from such parasites? Please also give some inputs to prevent snake bite and first aid for the same.
– Abhinav Utpal, Mizoram

Dr KG Umesh: Most recommend is using a fingernail to break seal of oral sucker and some unapproved measures include use of flame, salt, soap, or alcohol, vinegar, lemon juice, insect repellent etc to detach. After removal or detachment, the wound should be cleaned with soap and water, and bandaged. Keep dogs on leashes and closely supervised when in known snake habitat. In areas of known snake abundance, snake avoidance classes can be offered to teach dogs to avoid contact with snakes. First aid measures to be avoided include ice, incision and suction, tourniquets and hot packs. The effects of snake venom are time dependent; any delay in initiating medical treatment is deleterious to the patient and may result in complications that cannot be corrected. Recommendations for first aid in the field are to keep the victim calm, keep the bite site or limb elevated or at heart level if possible, and transport the victim to a veterinary medical facility for primary medical intervention. The patient should be hospitalised and monitored closely for a minimum of eight hours for signs of envenomation.

Q: Sugar, my 11+ years old mixed Pom, is causing me concern. She sometimes shivers or trembles even in summers. Please help.
– Radhika Bhasin, Jammu

Dr KG Umesh: As well as cognitive and physical changes, it is not uncommon for pet parents to notice behavioural changes in their dogs as they age, such as changes in their food or bedding preferences or toilet or sleeping habits. Due to these changes, the care of elderly dogs may need to be adapted to take account their different needs. Shivering or trembling in a senior dog can be result of pain (mild slipped disk, pain in organs or joints, etc) or simply can be a sign of endocrine problem. Please take her to your vet to find underlying cause. Some senior pets undergo anxiety, signs include trembling, salivation, pacing, vocalisation, destructive behaviour, eliminations and escapism.

Q: My two-year-old Lab had a seizure wherein he collapsed and was drooling excessively. We stay close to our vet and so were able to rush him to the clinic. Please advice.
– Mrs Sinha, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: A seizure (also called a convulsion or a fit) is caused by excessive, disorganised electrical brain activity that is not consciously controllable. For example, epilepsy is one of many medical conditions that can cause seizures. There are numerous potential causes of seizures in dogs broadly grouped, the causes of seizures include problems that are confined to the brain (intracranial causes) and generalised problems affecting the whole body, for which the ‘weak link,’ or point through which the symptoms first manifest, is the brain (extracranial causes). Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical and neurological exam and take a complete medical history and ask information on your pet’s age when you noticed the first episode, the frequency of seizures, vaccination and medication history, nutrition, any potentially toxic substances in the household, and any traumatic events. Additionally, he may suggest blood and urine tests and radiographs if required. Occasionally, specialised, advanced radiology tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) of the skull may be required. A dog or cat diagnosed with a seizure disorder may require lifelong medication, depending on the actual underlying disorder causing the seizures. The goal of treatment is to find the cause of seizures and eliminate it. If a specific cause cannot be determined, oral anticonvulsant medication can be given to help reduce the number, frequency, and length of seizures. Seizures may continue to occur despite medication, and in these cases, recheck visits are important to make sure that the medication doses are adequate and if necessary, change medications. Therefore, with proper medical attention, a good quality of life is possible with many or most pets with seizures.

Ask the Expert.. Mar Apr 2012

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My cat is sneezing, has a runny nose and is coughing. Please help.
– Prashant Das, Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: These signs are often caused by a combination of infectious diseases, with chronic recurrent viral infections complicated by secondary bacterial infections. Primary bacterial or fungal infections and non-infectious causes (foreign body, immune-mediated, dental disease, polyps, and growths) should be considered as well. Initial diagnostic testing is not indicated if clinical presentation fits with simple viral infection, but testing should be performed in complicated cases or if other causes are suspected. Isolation, good hygiene, and supportive care help control viral infections, and antimicrobial agents are often needed. Regular vaccination and other preventive health measures help. Please consult your vet for further treatment.