Ask the Expert.. | March April 09

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia. Q: After using the litter box my cat comes out and drags her backside on the carpet. Why do you think she is doing this, how do we remove this habit? – Ritu Puri, Delhi

Dr. K. G. Umesh: This behaviour is sometimes seen in cats and is usually due to anal sacs/glands problems. The anal sacs situated on either side of the anus, should empty every time faeces are passed. However, the sacs may become impacted (over full but not expressed) from conditions such as constipation/diarrhoea, irritation or infection. The cat responds by scooting her bottom. The other conditions which may cause cat to rub her hind end include matted hair around anus or tapeworms. Your vet will able to manually express the contents and help to clear up the underlying cause. The cat should return to normal if there are no signs of infection.

Ask the expert.. | Jan Feb 09

Rufus is five-year-old and his teeth have become yellowish. How can I take care of his teeth?
– Vikas Gupta, Meerut

Just like human being, dogs need to get their teeth brushed and cleaned. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. More than 80 percent of dogs over two years of age who haven’t received regular dental care have such kind of teeth problem. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious diseases. Owners can lightly brush their dog’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 tooth pastes made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew.

How to brush your dog’s teeth: Start by putting a small amount of the toothpaste on your finger and gently rubbing it on your dog’s front teeth and gums. After a few times, switch from a finger to a dog’s or a child’s toothbrush, one with soft, rounded bristles. Start by brushing the front teeth only, with a downward motion on the top teeth and upward on the lower teeth-the same way we’re supposed to brush our own teeth. After your dog gets used to this new activity, start brushing the premolars, then molars with the same motion you used on the front teeth. Vet dentistry is very similar to human dentistry in practice and vets use safe sedation or anaesthesia for any dental work or scaling.

My dog licks the face of my 10-month-old daughter. My concerns are: can any disease be transmitted to my daughter through such activity? And also how should I tell my dog not to lick? Please advice.
– Sneh, Patna

Rabies is most serious zoonosis transmitted by saliva of infected animal while sore throats and diarrhoea causing bugs are very few examples of more than 50 diseases that are transmitted from pets to humans. Pregnant women, asthmatic patients, infants, elderly people and immuno-compromised people should avoid handling pets. Most cases of human infections can be prevented by practising good personal hygiene and precautions about keeping pets and washing your hands regularly. Discourage pets to lick children’s faces. Wash or change bedding frequently. Dispose excreta properly.

Lastly keep pet animals healthy by preventive vaccination and deworming and visiting your vet for regular medical check-up. When your puppy does any inappropriate behaviour, stop it immediately by telling the pup ‘No’ meaning ‘Stop whatever you’re doing right now.’ Act early before bad habits become established. Ignore your puppy when he behaves inappropriately, rather than giving him attention. When the pup stops the bad behaviour, make sure you reward the pup with ‘GOOD’ followed by the puppy’s name. Puppies want to make their owners happy and you need to help them by your voice tone when they are being good. Praise your puppy when all four of his feet are on the ground. Providing chews, exercise and playing with your dog regularly help to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction.

I have a four-year-old Cocker who sometimes looks very sad and quiet. I had taken him to our vet for a health checkup thankfully all is well. I try to pep him up with his toys when I get back. He spends most of his time at home though I take him for his morning and evening walks. Do you think my dog is depressed? What should I do to cheer him up?
– Rajan Pandey, Allahabad

Before you leave, bury toys and hide treats where he can find and ‘dig’ them up. Rawhide chews, a food filled Kong and a food dispensing Buster Cube are some of the things dogs can be left with to help them settle. Scent can also be associated with relaxation and providing old towels, blankets, impregnated with the scent of the person whom he is attached to can help maintain a state of calm when that person goes out. Keeping a TV or radio on can also provide ‘company’ for your pooch. You can also consider having a second dog.

Can I feed my five-month-old puppy with fish? We also give her rice and milk or roti and milk, is that fine?
– Kapil Minocha, Ghaziabad

Our research indicates that most homemade diets/baby foods fed to dogs in India are inadequate and do not meet recommended nutritional requirements. Fish is excellent source for protein but lack some vitamins/minerals, likewise milk and rice lack or has low level of some essential nutrients required for dogs. Prepared pet foods from reputed pet food manufacturers like Pedigree are available with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety.

I want to adopt a pup but have asthma. Will my problem get worse with dog hair?
– Rasna, Shimla

It is a known fact that dander/hair inhalation, particularly from cats, can trigger attacks in some asthmatic patients or those individuals susceptible to allergy. However, dog hair is less likely to trigger asthma in susceptible individuals. You can choose a shorthaired breed to avoid excessive hair shedding problems.

Ask the Expert.. | Jan Feb 09

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia. Q: My six-year-old kitty Clara has started urinating frequently and does not seem to be feeling hungry. Do advice.
– Deepak Joshi, Mumbai

Dr. K. G. Umesh: Although cats have justifi ed reputation of ‘clean’ animals, eliminating in inappropriate places is one of the most common behavioural problems reported. A distinction must be made between abnormal urination behaviour and a true incontinence (dribbling of urine without the cat being aware of it). Abnormal or frequent urination can occur as a result of:

  • Nervousness (intruder/presence of another cat, unfamiliar surroundings etc): Clean the accident spot with strong odour disinfectant and the behaviour disappears once the cat is allowed to settle
  • Territory marking – spraying: Un-castrated male cats or un-spayed females spray more often than neutered cats do. Castration or spaying may help and occasionally medication may also be given.
  • Old age: Keep litter tray clean and place it in an easily accessible area.
  • Increased urine production: It can be due to diseases such as diabetes, chronic kidney failure, spinal problems, bladder infection, lower urinary tract disease (common), etc. A veterinary examination, blood and urine tests and radiographs will be required to determine the cause. Generally cats loose appetite with any of these diseases.

Ask the Expert.. | Nov Dec 08

Noorie, my GSD, who is 8-year-old, is having urinary incontinence, she is otherwise very well trained but at night relieves herself in the house. Do advice.
– Mrs Bose,Gurgaon

There are many possible causes for urinary incontinence. First, a detailed history is necessary as it provides important clues on the type of incontinence and assists in decisions on the diagnostic workup. Although sphincter incompetence due to spaying (low estrogens hormone) is the most common cause, a thorough examination should be performed on every incontinent animal. Like wise, urinary incontinence should not be confused with inappropriate urination, which is caused by behavioural problems. Urinary incontinence can also be a symptom of underlying conditions like diabetes, bladder infections and kidney disease. In any case, you should take your dog to the veterinarian to determine the exact cause. Therapy can be medical, surgical, or a combination of both.

I have a 5-month-old Lab, who bites a lot, may be because he is teething. How long my dog will continue doing like this?
– Rakesh Mann, Chandigarh

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. Never leave shoes, or indeed anything chewable, within the puppy’s reach. When your puppy does any inappropriate behaviour, stop him immediately by telling the pup “No”. “No” means “stop whatever you’re doing right now.” Act early before bad habits become established. Ignore your puppy, when he behaves inappropriately rather than giving him attention.

When the pup stops the bad behaviour, make sure you reward the pup with “GOOD (puppy’s name)!” To prevent him doing this, exercise and play with your dog regularly and you should try to provide him with interesting toys/chews that do not resemble in appearance or texture of unacceptable chew items. He will soon learn that playing with toys is more fun. Ask your vet for a right chew that suits your puppy.

Do advice the first aid measures for snake bites on dogs.
– Minu, Ferozepur

First look for the marks of two fangs at the site of the bite and call your vet to let him know the kind of snake it was, if you happen to see it. Carry the dog if possible rather than let him walk, to avoid spreading the poison. If bite is on the leg, put on a tourniquet above the bite, release it every 15 minutes. Treatment such as sucking out poison or cutting the wound with knife is useless but you may clean the wound with soap and water.

My dog’s stool seemed to have red streaks- is this blood? Do let me know what to do. Currently, she is also having medicines for stomach infection.
– Ratan Arya, Thane

Occasionally, a very light streak of fresh blood on stool is likely to come from a broken vessel around anus and is not worrying, provided the dog is otherwise well. If even this small amount of blood is seen persistently, veterinary advice should be sought. Ulcers in stomach, hook worms, anal sacs infection, bowel or liver diseases, or any disease affecting blood clotting can cause such problem. Make a note on its frequency, colour, fresh or dark digested, that may assist in decisions on the diagnostic workup by your vet.

My dog does not like car drives. He gets scared and vomits and even barks a lot. It becomes very traumatic to take him to his vet. Please, advice.
– Rajesh, Vadodara

Ideally, puppies should be introduced to car travel before they are eight weeks of age just before the “fear period” in their development. Let him go in and out and play around the car so that he regards the car as fun. First, put your dog in the car (in the place he will be sitting) and let him settle and relax for five minutes. Leave the doors open. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t even start the car. Praise and reward him with words and small treats.

Next, start the car, but don’t drive. Observe your pet for signs of stress, which might include shaking, drooling, or drooping ears. If these are present, turn off the car until your dog calms down. Do not attempt to calm him, as soothing and attention to the anxiety can actually reinforce the behaviour. When he can manage the sound and vibration of the engine again, go for a short drive, not more than five minutes, and preferably to a place he enjoys, like a park. Reward him with a toy, treat, or praise.

Travel sickness may occur in dogs as it does in humans. It is helpful to hold your pet securely so that he is not so affected by movement of the car. Putting the dog in a crate or feeding the dog in stationary car may be helpful. Don’t feed for up to five hours before a long car ride. If all fails, consult your vet to get pills that help stop travel sickness.

Ask the Expert / Sep-Oct 2008

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a lecturer 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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia

Q: My Lab takes homemade food, please, do let me know, is this diet right and how can I train him? – Ayush Bissa, Jodhpur

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Our research indicated that most home made diets/baby foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate and do not meet recommended nutritional requirements. Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers like Pedigree come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort, and expertise. It is difficult even for an experienced breeder to prepare balanced diet for dogs. There is no need to feed any supplements like calcium or home diet while he is feeding on balanced food like Pedigree except clean fresh water. Therefore, continue feeding only recommended quantity of the prepared pet food.

Effective training should be a combination of information: what you want the dog to do; motivation: a reason for your dog to do it; and timing: when to reward a good action. Therefore, the most important thing in dog training is to reward good behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour.

Q: I have an eleven-year-old Labrador – Max, who does not respond to his name or commands. We think he is becoming hard of hearing. What tests can we get done to confirm, if he is going deaf or is there some other problem? – Suman Arora, Jhansi

Dr. K.G. Umesh: Dogs health problems related to advancing years are similar to our own. This might involve deficits in brain functioning, total or partial loss of hearing, eyesight, or sense of smell. Due to these changes, a senior dog may begin to appear to be ignoring commands, appear disorientated or have a reduced appetite. Early detection can help in disease prevention and can minimize suffering. If left undetected, many diseases can put your pet’s health at risk. The best approach to caring for your senior pet includes preventive diagnostics such as establishing baseline blood work, identifying existing health problems and monitoring progress during treatment. Visit your vet who will advise suitable tests for impaired hearing (BAER) and schedule regular health check-ups. Meanwhile, make sure that he is fed on suitable balanced diet that matches his age, dentition and energy requirement.

Q: My 3-year-old dog, Tipsy (Spitz) mated around the first week of June. She had three puppies on the 9th of August at home. All the three puppies did not survive. Could you tell us what possible reasons this could have happened? – Bijoy, Noida

Dr. K.G. Umesh: The failure to thrive in newborn puppies or neonates, known as fading puppy syndrome, can occur from birth to nine weeks of age. The causes of fading puppy syndrome can be broadly put into genetic, environmental or infectious agents groups. Hypothermia, herpes virus infection and maternal neglect resulting in poor nutrition are frequently reported causes. Affected neonates can decline quickly and die, so immediate detection and treatment are keys to survival. Therefore, always observe all the neonates’ behaviour and be on the lookout for key signs. Neonates or puppies that lie away from the group, cry constantly, are restless, or fail to nurse should be examined at once. Timely veterinary attention provides the best chances for saving these neonates’ lives. Because the exact causes of fading puppy syndrome are often not immediately apparent, your veterinarian will initially focus on supportive care and diagnostic evaluation. Your veterinarian will also ask about the dam’s ease of delivery, appetite, diet, vaccinations, mothering skills, and medications, etc that may help to prevent such problems next time.

Q: I have a Doberman who is one year old with an undescented testicle. Please, advise. – Kumaran, Mangalore

Dr. K. G. Umesh: Generally testes in dogs descent to final scrotal position by 2-4 months of age and may occur later in some dogs. The incomplete descent of one or both testes into the scrotum is called Cryptorchidism. This condition is believed to be inherited and is rarely associated with signs of illness. However, the risk of testicular cancer is thought to be approximately 10 times greater in affected dogs than in normal dogs. Castration is recommended practice before four years of age. Breeding of such dogs should be discouraged.

Ask the Expert ….| July Aug 08

My dog Joey, who is a12 years old Lab has a lump on the back of his leg, I have been advised by my vet to go in for Chemotherapy. My concern is my dog’s age, to undertake the treatment at his age. Please do advice me what should I do. Also, I have two more dogs who keep playing with Joey – are they at any danger?
– Akshay, Delhi

If your vet does find a lump or tumour, a biopsy 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 tumours are cancerous. Lipomas (fatty tumours), warts, and histiocytomas are seldom dangerous and removal is a straight-forward procedure. Removal of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) and other tumours are much more difficult. In these cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are options to consider. Success of chemotherapy depends on the type and stage of cancer and some drugs may relieve discomfort and prolong a good quality of life. You should be prepared for possible chemotherapy-induced side effects. Few tumours like transmissible venereal (sexually transmitted) can be risk to other dogs but responds very well to chemotherapy.

We recently adopted a 2-month-old Spaniel pup, after one week, he fell sick and was diagnosed with distemper. To the uttermost grief of my family we had to put him to sleep. Is the virus in the environment and how can I protect the next pup? Also advise how one can ensure that the pup is healthy? Are there any norms/ guidelines which breeders follow? Are there any rules/ laws in India governing pet breeding?
– Anjali Das, Kolkata

Dogs are very susceptible to certain infectious diseases, especially distemper, ICH, parvovirus etc., which are preventable diseases. Distemper is transmitted usually by inhalation of virus in the air, which is contaminated by discharges from suffering dogs. Combined vaccination (all in one) against all these diseases has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. Most pups lose protection from mother (maternal antibodies) at 6 –14 weeks of age; therefore, 2-3 vaccinations (2-3 weeks apart) are administered during this period. The risk of disease and stress-induced illness is greater for puppies. The best place to obtain a healthy puppy is from a recognised and reputable breeder or through your veterinarian. It is always best to see the mother if you are buying a puppy, so you can check that she is healthy and her puppies are free from signs of illness and all kinds of stress (weaning early, worms).

I recently read in a leading national daily that dog conjunctivitis cases are on the rise. Do explain about this diseases, prevention and cure.
– Rajeev, Jallandhar

Conjunctivitis in dogs can be primary due to allergy or infection or secondary due to underlying eye or internal diseases (glaucoma, uveitis, immune-mediated disease, tumours). Certain infections tend to become seasonal due to favourable conditions. Spasms of eyelids, abnormal persistent eye discharge or redness etc are the early signs that require immediate medical attention. Your vet may advise solutions and ointments to be applied after cleaning eyes. Some dogs may require Elizabethan collar to prevent self-trauma. Regular vaccination and health checks may help to prevent some forms of conjunctivitis.

I have to feed tablets to my pet, what is the best way to feed it? If I mix it with food, she gets the smell and does not eat it. If I try to put it into her mouth directly, she does not like it and growls.
– M Sathish, Trivandrum

It is important to practice tablet-giving (e.g., Vitamin pill) from the time your pooch is a puppy. Dogs will readily take some tablets/syrup designed for dogs or kids which are palatable. If crushing the tablet in food or disguised in other ways do not work, open the dog’s mouth with left hand by tilting the head upwards with thumb and index finger pushed in from outside the lips, behind canine tooth. With the opposite hand, open the mouth wide by pressing down on the lower incisors with your middle two fingers; pop the pill on the tongue as far back in the mouth as you can. Close the mouth, and hold it closed while stroking the throat to make the dog swallow. Visit your vet who can help you train giving pills to your pet. You can also try dog pill dispenser available in some pet shops or clinics.

Ask the Expert ….| May June 08

My Labrador Browney suddenly started vomiting, I consulted the vet immediately who gave him some injections and it stopped. But after a day, he started vomiting again. He does not vomit the food (roti and curd), but there is some white and dark yellow/brown liquid. Please advice.
– Bhavesh Panchal, Gwalior

Vomiting is merely a sign of other disorders (digestive and non-digestive like kidney, liver etc). Most vomiting cases are acute and reversible, requiring only supportive and symptomatic therapy. Generally, it is advised to withhold food and water for at least 24 hours and introduce highly digestible food like rice and avoiding high fat diets. In contrast to acute problems, chronic ones are rarely self-limiting and it is usually essential to establish specific diagnosis (with help from lab tests/investigations) and appropriate therapy.

My dog’s eyes have become red; she also has eye discharge. She seems to be uncomfortable and keeps rubbing her eyes with paws. What should I do?
-Deepti Goyal, Lucknow

Redness (red eye) typically represents inflammation of the ocular tissues, which may be a normal variant or require topical therapy or emergency surgery. Inflammation or infection can occur with diseases of the external eyelids, nictitans, conjunctiva, cornea, sclera, orbit, or intraocular structures (uvea, choroid). Some common causes are dust or foreign bodies, conjuctvitis, uveitis, and glaucoma. Inflammation is often accompanied by redness of the lids or conjunctiva, spasms of eyelids, increased blinking, rubbing of the eye or excessive discharge. Meticulous examination of the eye with a methodical diagnostic approach will aid in obtaining an accurate diagnosis and help to determine treatment. Take her to your vet ASAP.

What precautions should I take for my 3-year-old Yen (GSD) to keep him safe from summer-related problems?
– Sachin, Jaipur

Health of pets is affected significantly by heat and heat stress and susceptible pets are prone to develop number of heat-related diseases. It’s extremely dangerous to leave a pet alone in a vehicle/room/outdoors in the sun – even with a window open – as an overheated car/room can have fatal consequences. Your pets can only cool down by panting, so make sure they have access to shade, proper shelter and water when outside. Dogs tend to eat less in summer but they spend more energy in an effort to lower the body temperature (e.g., panting). Therefore, a well-balanced nutritionally complete diet like Pedigree confers some protection against the effects of heat stress. Feed during cooler part of the day or increase frequency of feeding. Nonveg food (chicken, etc) do not cause “heat” in pets as many pet owners believe. Avoid exercising your pet in the midday heat and remember to give them plenty of fresh water so they don’t become dehydrated in warm weather.

My 11-month-old Golden Retriever- Sona has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Do let us know how should we take care of him medically and at home?
– Mamta Nath, Ahemdabad

Conservative treatment benefits many dogs when they experience signs of hip dysplasia. Physical therapy involves exercise, avoiding obesity and medication. They are strongly recommended to prevent progression of joint disease. Low impact exercise is preferable, such as swimming or leashed walks. Medications are useful primarily because they promote the ability to exercise. By themselves, medicines do not treat hip dysplasia; they just mask the clinical signs of inflammation. The most commonly used medicines include aspirin, carprofen, Etodolac firocoxib and other Cox-2 inhibitors. It must be remembered that hip dysplasia is a lifelong disease, and even drugs as relatively safe as the antiinflammatory drugs recommended can, and do, have serious side effects, if overused. An optimal balanced nutrition help to reduce the health risks associated with feeding excess nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus, which could aggravate skeletal problems, and also excess calories, which could lead to obesity and complicate signs of hip dysplasia. Many nutraceuticals and diets are promoted for management of skeletal problems. For e.g., use of Royal Canin “Mobility Support” diet may benefit your pet. Please consult your vet before you make any change in the management.

Shagun, my Pom, is having anal irritation. What do you think can be the cause? Also, let us know about the treatment.
– Satya, Shillong

The frequent cause for such behaviour in dogs is due to anal glands disorders. The anal glands, situated on either side of anus, should empty every time faeces are passed. When these glands become overfull or are not relieved, it may cause irritation or even abscess and burst. Dragging the anus on floor or grass is dog’s reaction to pain/irritation around anus and dog may turn round to inspect its back end frequently and suddenly. Having the glands emptied periodically at your vet clinic can prevent this condition. The other causes include problems in tail, growths, constipation etc. The popular notion that worms cause irritation around anus is generally unfounded.

Ask the Expert / Mar-Apr 2008

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a lecturer 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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia

Q: I have an Alsatian whose age is 1 year and 2 months. I feel his growth is weak. Do give information about his diet and what his weight should be. – Ravi, Bangalore

Dr. K. G. Umesh: The growth of puppies involves the genetic potential of the individual (breed and sex), the environment and nutrition. German Shepherd generally becomes adult by 14-16 months of age with an average height of 66cm (26 inch) and may weigh between 30-40 Kgs in our country. A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a dog in order to prepare him for an active, long, and healthy life. The provision of all essential nutrients in a diet like Pedigree along with accurate feeding will help to maximize their genetic potential to grow. Avoid overfeeding and do not use supplements like calcium while he is on a complete diet.

Q: I have a 5-month-old female Labrador. Her back right leg seems to be bending outwards. What could be the possible reasons and what can be done to cure her? – Amit, Hisar

Dr. K. G. Umesh: Skeletal problems are common in large breeds resulting from many causes (e.g. slippery floors, overweight). Over feeding or excess energy and /or excessive calcium during growth are found to be common causes of increased incidence of skeletal defects in large breeds like Labrador. Large breeds are less able to tolerate excess calcium. Therefore make sure that he is receiving balanced nutrition and no excessive supplements. His affected limb may require radiography to find underlying nature of defect and possibly specific treatment.

Q: My 10-year-old dog Nancy has been diagnosed by cataract in both eyes. Can I get her operated? Will a ten-year-old dog be able to withstand the trauma? – Ratna Gupta, Mumbai

Dr. K. G. Umesh: The outcome of the surgery depends on cause, rate of progression, location within the lens and patient’s age and health. Some causes are hereditary, spontaneous age related or diabetes, etc. Lenticular sclerosis which is normal ageing phenomenon; often mistaken for cataracts but does not cause vision loss. Before deciding to perform surgery, your vet will try to determine if another eye disease is present that may cause complications or blindness. Cataract surgery is often delayed until both eyes are affected. Phacoemulsification and intraocular lens implantation is now largely replacing the traditional surgery, as it is very quick, less invasive and more successful in dogs. Eye drop medications prescribed by your veterinarian must be administered as instructed if the cataract surgery is to be successful. Some animals will have improved vision immediately after surgery; others may require an adjustment period before the success of the surgery can be evaluated.

Q: What is a right age for a dog to be neutered. How long does the surgery take and what does it involve. What is the post-operative care and for how long? Also do let me know if I don’t get my 4-month-old Spaniel puppy neutered, will it be ok? – Vikrant, Raipur

Dr. K. G. Umesh: 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. Surgery is preceded by a fasting period and requires general anesthesia and hospitalization. Complications are unusual but may include post surgical hemorrhage, infection, tissue reaction to ligature material, and urinary incontinence. Post-operative care includes restriction of exercise for a week, protection of the incision from contaminants, and daily monitoring of the incision for inflammation or discharge. The incision must stay dry and suture removal is usually performed 7 to 10 days after surgery. There are also hospitals/clinics, which conduct spaying with Keyhole or Laparoscopy methods, with minimum invasive surgery and on out patient basis. 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. Routine early-age neutering is viewed as an important step in reducing the number of unwanted litters of puppies and also for minimizing behavioural problems. Long-term outcomes (Neutering at < 5.5 months of age) in a study found that early neutering offers more benefits than risks for male dogs, but increased urinary incontinence suggests a delay until at least 3 months of age for female dogs.

Q: My dog vomited after eating a rawhide chew. Is it safe to give him that? Also advice on how to keep his teeth clean? – Chavi Jain, Ambala

Dr. K. G. Umesh: Just like people, dogs need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. Owners can lightly brush their 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 toothpastes made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. The chew suitable for pets must be tested for safety and benefits. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews result in a significant reduction of plaque and calculus accumulation, gum inflammation and malodor. Consult your vet who will be able to recommend specially designed dog chews and biscuits available in the market. Dry dog food may also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.

Ask the expert..| Jan Feb 08

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a lecturer 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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q:What are the signs of urinary tract infection in dogs. Is there a way where in we can prevent the same?
– Sudha, Nagpur

A: Urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to bacterial colonisation of portions of the urinary tract that are normally sterile (kidneys, ureters, bladder, and proximal urethra) and is the most common infectious disease in dogs. UTI is most commonly discovered when animals are presented with clinical signs of lower urinary tract distress (symptomatic), but it is not necessary for animals to demonstrate clinical signs in order for UTI to exist (asymptomatic). In these instances, the infection is diagnosed fortuitously. Urine culture is necessary for making diagnosis. Common noticeable signs include frequent voiding of small volumes of urine (usually in inappropriate places), urgency and difficulty in urination and cloudy or bloody or malodorous urine in some patients. Generally, the prognosis for animals with uncomplicated lower urinary tract infection is good-to-excellent. Avoid indiscriminate use of urinary catheters. Animals with frequent reinfection managed with bedtime therapy to augment its defences and prevent reinfection. They should be re-evaluated for finding underlying cause, using invasive and non-invasive diagnostic tests (endoscopy, radiograph, etc).

Q:I have noticed a little amount of mucous in my dog’s stool (Blackie) who is two years old. What should I do and advise what could be the causes?
– V Murthy, Trichy

A: Presence of mucus in faeces may indicate parasitic, liver or large bowel diseases, to name a few. Likewise, some dietary ingredients may also induce mucus. If it persists, take him to your vet to find underlying cause (and faecal examination).

Q:My mixed breed dog – Dimple – has got a bald patch on her back. Is it an infection? What are the skin related tests that we can do to determine the cause of the problem?
– Dr Kamala Bhatia, Chandigarh

A:Bald patch is a merely a sign and a common symptom in dogs with most skin diseases. Some common causes include parasites, allergies, hormonal and bacterial infections. For e.g., for external parasites like fleas, which is most common cause of itching, the dog as well as environment should be treated to make home and dog premises free from parasites. Likewise, skin scraping for mites (which cause mange), culture for fungus, blood test for hormones and IDST for allergy are some of the tests required for confirmatory diagnosis and specific treatment. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore bald patch.

Q:My two-month-old Samoyed frequently keeps licking the walls. People tell me that this is a sign of deficiency of Calcium. Is that true? How do I stop her from licking the walls. Is it harmful?
– Sandhya Singh , Patiala

A:Small puppies are just like small children and will investigate everything by licking or chewing. Licking painted wall may pose risk of lead poisoning. So, it is essential that you make sure your puppy is safe in and around your home. Although this behaviour is unlikely to be associated with calcium deficiency, make sure that your puppy is receiving balanced and complete nutrition. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating prepared foods like Pedigree from the very start. They meet dog’s nutritional requirements: they’re balanced, with the proper amounts of protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, and are easily digestible.
Then try these helpful tips:
1. Give your puppy attention when you choose to do so.
2. Provide your puppy with several toys for chewing on.
3. Encourage and reward acceptable behaviour with praise and treats.
4. Prevent access to unacceptable chew items.
If necessary, seek professional trainer or ask your vet for help.

Q: Ruhi, my 8-year-old yellow Lab has coarse/rough elbows. The colour is a dark shade of grey. Is it normal? Shall I apply some cream/vaseline?
– Mukesh Kanuja, Ahmedabad

A:Thickening and pigmentation of skin at these pressure points that comes in contact with floor is a common finding in dogs, particularly in large breeds or overweight dogs. Treatment of this condition (deep pyoderma or callus) depends on the extent and depth of the lesion, your and Ruhi’s compliance and the underlying disease. Topical and/or systemic drugs can be used. If there are no signs of infection, consider using moisturisers/Keratoplastics and elbow caps. Vaseline also helps to some extent.

Ask the Expert..| Nov Dec 07

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a lecturer 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 presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q : My dog Princy has boils/pimples around his mouth area. Do dogs also get pimples? If yes, what is the cure?
– Sudhir Narayanan, Chennai

Dr. K. G. Umesh : The answer is yes; it is also called chin “acne.” It is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the hair follicles on chin and lips of young animals. It is recognised almost exclusively in short-coated breeds. Chronic lesions may be scarred with pigmentation. Chin acne generally responds well to topical antibacterials like muporicin, benzyl peroxide or chlorexidine. Some short-coated breeds appear to be genetically predisposed to follicular keratosis and secondary bacterial infection. Therefore take him to your vet who may help to find underlying causes (eg demodex mites) or will suggest specific treatment.

Q : I have just got a new puppy, advice what should I keep in her first aid box and what precautions should I take around the house for her safety?
– Meera singh, Gurgaon

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Just like humans, dogs can occasionally injure themselves in a number of ways, which include road traffic accidents, cuts and lacerations, stings and bites, poisons and toxins. Other occasions when your dog may require emergency treatment include sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhoea. For a basic first aid kit I would suggest: cotton balls, paracetomol syrup for fever, an antihistamine or steroid ointment in case of an insect bite, hydrogen peroxide to clean out a wound, bandages to make a muzzle and to protect an injured area, balanced electrolyte solution to prevent dehydration from vomiting or diarrhoea, a triple antibiotic ointment, a rectal thermometer, and an astringent/gauze pads to help stop bleeding. Things you may consider harmless household items can be deadly to your puppy. He may tug or chew anything he finds including plants and electrical cords. Candles, burners or coins can also cause emergency. Do not leave hazardous items, including medicines, poisonous plants, detergents and cleaning agents. Try to avoid chocolates as well. Make sure that all gates shut securely and that your puppy will not be able to squeeze through or under your gate. Puppies soon learn that not everything in and around your home is for playing with and that some things are just not safe. In the meantime, do everything you can to ensure safe environment for your puppy to grow up in.

Q : My dog is having a runny nose with discharge, is this cold? And what is the treatment?
– Prashant Lal, Kota

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Running nose, like fever, is merely a symptom of a disease. Dogs can have nasal discharge for a variety of reasons including irritation from allergies, change in climate, inhaled gases, and foreign bodies. Discharge can also result from inflammation of the upper or lower airways. Fever and purulent discharge is common with some infections like distemper or pneumonia. Likewise, if discharge develops in one nostril, you should also consider growths or tumours as one of the causes. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is get him examined as early as possible. Your vet is the right person to decide what test needs to be done immediately. Your vet might prescribe a few medicines to suppress discharge symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q : My pet dog – Lara, gets scared of strange noises, certain people, dogs and urinates in fright. Is this a medical problem? And how do I solve this issue?
– Rani Goel, Hyderabad

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Some puppies/dogs will leak a small amount of urine when they are excited or nervous, even after they are housetrained. This is submissive urination and it’s a reflexive action that your dog may not be aware of. If a submissive dog meets a more dominant pack member (dog or person), normal canine behaviour may be to roll over on his back and urinate. Firstly, see your veterinarian so your dog can have a physical examination to rule out any medical problems that may be the reason for his inappropriate urination. Punishing your dog for something he can’t control will make his behaviour more likely to continue. If your dog greets you at the door and exhibits this behaviour, try to make your greeting as casual as possible. If you don’t make a big deal out of greeting your dog, he may stop regarding your home arrival as a big event, getting overly excited about it, and urinating. It’s better to crouch down to his level when you pet him – your dog will recognise your crouched position as non-threatening. Lastly, to help your puppy/dog feel more confident, introduce him to as many new experiences as possible for effective socialisation. Obedience classes build confidence and may help your puppy/dog get over this condition.

Q : I have noticed worms in my dog stool. Please advice.
– Srikant, Ooty

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Deworming is generally recommended every 2-3 weeks until 6 months of age and thereafter, once in 3 months. Your vet may recommend a suitable deworming drug depending on type of worms (round, tape, whip etc). There are many safe “All in one” drugs available to treat and control common types of worms in pets.