Ask the Expert / Sep-Oct 2007

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 : The hair of my five-month-old Dalmatian puppy is falling heavily. Please advise. – Ajay, Bangalore

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Hair loss/shedding is a common complaint in dogs with skin disorders due to number of causes. Unlike human beings, dog’s hair growth cycle is different and it does not grow continuously. Photoperiod (light intensity) is the main factor besides nutrition, genetics and health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and therefore, can be physiological. Stress, worms, harsh climate and general illness may also cause excess hair fall. Consult your vet for finding out the underlying cause(s) (like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection etc) and for suitable medications. If there is no underlying cause identified, try Primrose oil capsules (1 cap every evening) or sunflower oil/saffola oil/corn oil 2-4 tsp and Zinc capsules everyday in the food. This will improve his hair coat in the short term when underlying cause is identified.

Q : My three-year-old Labrador, named Bruno, had been bitten on the neck by a Golden Retriever while I had gone out of station. The wound was half inch deep. Bruno’s vaccinations are up to date. I want to know what injections can be given to him now? – Rupal, Pune

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Firstly, please call your vet for best chances of quick and uneventful healing. All bite wounds should be taken seriously and washed immediately with soap and water. If not treated promptly, infection may develop soon. For e.g. a puncture wound (without tearing off the flesh around it) is usually a small hole that closes quickly. This can be deceiving, as the bacteria and damage are “trapped” below the surface, which can lead to infection. Many animal bites, even if rabies vaccination or stitches are not required, should be treated with antibiotics. Consult your vet for postbite vaccination if your pet as well as the Golden Retriever’s anti-rabies vaccination is up to date. If your pet is bitten by an unknown pet or any animal whose rabies vaccination status is unknown, he should be captured/quarantined for observation. Your pet should also undergo postbite vaccination as per recommendations of your vet.

Q : How can I prevent my pet from maggots? – Deepika Prakash, Chennai

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Maggots are the larvae of flies. They lay eggs, which develop into larvae that need to eat. They generally get attracted to any animal that has skin infection, poor skin/matted hair, bad smell etc. The larvae, which look like white grub worms, only eat dead tissue, but they can be extremely painful and irritating to the pet. These conditions can appear and get worse within hours. It is important to find the cause of the initial maggot attraction (is your pet vomiting, have diarrhea, a wound, etc) and to prevent further maggot infestation. Very old, young, or compromised animals will be more at risk. Applying safe fly repellents like neem oil around the wound may also help. Consult your vet immediately, rather than wait.

Q : My 6.5-year-old female dog Honey is urinating very frequently. What problem would this indicate? – Debasis Roy, Kolkata

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Urinary problems are commonly seen in dogs and cats. Symptoms can range from “obviously sick” to very few signs seen, depending on the length and severity of infection. In addition to increased frequency of urination, if you see any additional signs like urination in inappropriate places, difficulty when urinating (straining), discoloured urine, strong and/or foul smelling urine, lethargy and fever, may indicate presence of urinary tract infection (UTI). Inappropriate and increased frequency of urinations may also be indicative of other diseases that commonly affect older dogs including kidney failure, diabetes and Cushing’s disease. Consult your vet for finding out the actual cause so that your dog can be treated appropriately. It is very important to properly treat these infections, not only for your dog’s comfort, but because untreated UTIs can lead to kidney failure or a chronic, recurrent infection.

Q : My dog Shadow is constipated. What can I do to relieve him from this discomfort? – R Dhaliwal, Ludhiana

Dr. K. G. Umesh : Factors associated with causing constipation include dietary, foreign bodies (e.g. feeding bones), neurological problems, growths, metabolic diseases and pelvic injuries, to name a few. In most cases, the cause can be identified on the basis of clinical signs that the dog is showing. However, in some cases, no obvious cause is identified. The initial treatment involves administration of enemas and correcting dehydration. Diets also help to manage constipation. Most manufactured diets like Pedigree have adequate level of fibers to form well-formed feces and thus prevent diet-associated constipation. If constipation recurs or becomes a long-term problem, then continuous treatment may be needed to prevent recurrence. There are a variety of preparations in the market and your vet will be best person to advise you on which is most suitable for your dog.

Ask the expert | July Aug 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 : I just want to know that what would be the appropriate diet for my 50-day-old female Labrador. She also bites things around. What should I do?
– Amit Jhingran, Hisar

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Proper nutrition allows for puppy to reach his full genetic potential. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced breeder to get the nutritional balance just right. Remember that puppies grow approximately 12 times faster than baby and baby foods/home prepared diets do not meet nutrient requirements of puppies. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start as they are designed to meet all their nutritional requirements.

Also, it is normal for puppies to be “mouthie.” When she tries to bite, a GENTLE tap on the nose with a “NO BITE” command should be sufficient to correct this behaviour. Consistency is the key with puppies. When the pup stops the bad behaviour make sure you reward her with “GOOD (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.

Q : My dog had a wound, which is now cured, but there is no hair growth in that area. Why?
– Sibi, Coimbatore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Hair growth cycle is influenced by many factors such as hormones, stress, nutrition, diseases and drug therapy. The wound might have destroyed hair follicles. Your vet may help you to find underlying cause.

Q : My dog is probably pregnant. How do I confirm her pregnancy? Please advice me what care should be taken now, during birth and post birth. Also tell me about the pregnancy term.
– Sumonto Choudhury, Dehradun

Dr. K.G. Umesh : The diagnosis of pregnancy (gestation period: 57–69, with average of 63 days)–may begin with abdominal palpation and then be more accurately diagnosed via ultrasonography or canine pregnancy kits. Late in gestation, the female requires increased amounts of a well-balanced, high-energy diet to meet the needs of the developing offspring as well as to enable her to produce enough milk for the offspring. Lactation may begin as early as 7 days prepartum in the pregnant female, but most females produce milk hours before they whelp. Her appetite may decrease and nest-building behaviour begins 24 to 36 hours before parturition. A reduction in her body temperature of about 1.1°F signifies that whelping is 12 to 24 hours away. A whelping box should be provided in a quiet, dimly lit area that is free of drafts. She should be left alone in the whelping box with free access to food and clean water and should be monitored as unobtrusively as possible. If a puppy is not born within 2 hours of the start of abdominal contractions (true labour), she may need medical attention. Consult your vet for further information.

Q : I have a 12-weeks-old Labrador. Tell me about deworming and sterilisation schedule. Also, he does not like going out for a walk. What should I do?
– Suresh Gharpure, Mumbai

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 can advise you as to when it is best to have the neutering done (either puppy age or after sexual maturity). Puppies show increasing attraction to unusual things in their environment, and they learn what is and isn’t pleasing. If puppies are exposed in a non-frightening way to a wide variety of stimulating things during this period, they’re less likely to be afraid of new objects and situations later in life. Make sure that you have time to invest in an intensive socialisation programme during his early weeks with you that will have a long lasting effect on his behaviour.

Q : How can I puppy-proof my home?
– Deepika Dubey, Jabalpur

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Household items that you may consider harmless can be deadly to your puppy. He may tug or chew anything he finds including plants and electrical cords. Candles, burners, coins and similar objects can also be hazardous. Do not leave hazardous items, including medicines, poisonous plants, detergents and cleaning agents, where your puppy can get to them. Also, chocolates should be kept away from them. Make sure that all gates are shut securely and that your puppy cannot 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 your puppy has a safe environment to grow up.

Ask the expert | May June 07

Q : Please give me some information on female dog heat cycle. When is the right time to get Lucy, my 3-month-old Pomeranian, spayed? – Tara Verma, Patna

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Puppies usually have their first heat at about 6 months of age. However this can vary from breed to breed (4 months gto 18 months). The first signs of heat are usually swollen vulva and a blood stained discharge. On average, this (pro-estrous) will continue for about 9 days. This stage is followed by a period of estrous, where the discharge may turn to straw color and she will attract male dogs. Ovulation occurs 2 days after the start of estrous. Most female dogs, if not mated, will come to season (heat) approximately every 6 months. If you do not want to breed from your dog, consult your veterinarian on neutering or other forms of reproductive control. Some vets do spaying as early as 6 months, while some prefer to do it few weeks after her first cycle. There are advantages and drawbacks to each.

Q : I have a 4-month-old St. Bernard pup. Please give me information regarding his overall care, including height and weight chart. – Amarpreet, Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : 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. Feeding only mutton/meat could lead to skeletal/bone problems in large breed like yours. Likewise feeding excess energy (too much food in growing phase) and calcium make large breed to develop skeletal (bone and joint) problems in the later part of life. Large breeds like yours take longer time to mature (15-18 months). As your pet is still a puppy (until 18 months of age), we suggest to start him on puppy food like “Pedigree Large Breed Puppy” food, which is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of growing large breed puppies. St. Bernard should usually attain minimum height of 69 cms (76-86 cm) and weights have been recorded from 70 to 95 kg (some >100 kg). Waltham has developed “SHAPE” guide that will help you to monitor body condition. Please ask your vet for a copy of the same.

Q : My 6-year-old Pekingese sleeps almost throughout the day. What is the correct amount of sleep for him? – Prerna Suri, New Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Firstly, excessive sleep or inappropriate sleep must be differentiated from lethargy or depression. Does he show any abnormal pattern in sleep? What is level of his physical activities? Does he show any signs of systemic illness or is he under any medication? Please take him to vet for complete neurological examination and to rule out metabolic associated weakness and endocrine diseases like hypothyroidism.

Q : I have a mixed breed dog (Pom and German Shepherd), who frequently licks her private part (vulva). Why does she do it and how can I stop this? – Preeti, Indore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : There can be a number of reasons for your dog to behave like this. She might be in heat or suffering from local infection. Please take her to your vet for complete examination that may help to find underlying cause.

Q : Is wet nose of a dog a sign of good health? – Vivek Anand, Mumbai

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Although wet nose may be a sign of health, most illnesses are shown by a combination of signs and symptoms. Signs of illness in dogs vary depending on age of dog, system affected, type and duration of illness etc. For e.g., some dogs with simple fever continue to eat and play and also have wet nose, while some become lethargic and lose appetite. Therefore regular visits to your vet for monitoring his health is essential in preventing and controlling serious ailments.

Q : How can I determine that my dog has fever? – Deepika Shastri, Bangalore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Rectal thermometers are still the best way to check the body temperature of dogs as it is most reliable and validated. Some veterinary rectal thermometers are made exclusively for use in pets. You can also use human digital thermometer at home for monitoring you pet’s rectal temperature. However, human thermometers used on ear or fingertips are not recommended for pets.

Ask the expert – Mar Apr 07

Q : I feed Cerelac to my 8-week-old Pug puppy 4 times a day. We do not put milk in it as his stomach becomes loose. Please let me know about his feeding and nutrition needs till he is a year old. – Raashi Dewan, Delhi

Dr. K.G. Umesh : 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. Our research has indicated that most home made diets/baby foods fed to dogs in our country are inadequate and growth, development and body/skin condition may not be optimum. Puppies grow very fast, almost 12 times faster than a human baby. Puppies nutritional requirements are different from adults and is almost twice that of adults. Therefore, manufactured pet foods like Pedigree is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of dogs in different lifestages. Continue feeding puppy food until age of 6-8 months and switch over to adult pet food after that. Any dietary change should be made slowly to avoid any upsets to your pet’s digestion. Gradually introduce the manufactured pet food over a 5-10 day period by mixing very small amounts of the food with old diet. Make sure that fresh water is available at all times.

Q : My 5-year-old Spaniel Holly has ticks on her body. Last year, because of ticks she had suffered from a blood parasite diseases and her platelet count had come very low. How can I prevent her from the dreadful ticks. – Arnav Kapoor

Dr. K.G. Umesh : A generalised tick life cycle consists of egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The tick feeds once in each stage before maturing to the next stage. Ticks lay their eggs (as many as 18,000 in some species) in sheltered areas on or near the ground. Seed ticks hatch from the eggs and climb onto grass to wait for a suitable host. Successful control of ticks depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. To control ticks or fleas on a dog, all animals in the household must be part of the flea/ticks control programme. There are two basic categories of flea/ticks control products: Adulticides—these products kill adult fleas and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)/Insect Development Inhibitors (IDIs)—these products prevent fleas from hatching or maturing. Thorough cleaning of the house and yard should precede any application of insecticides. The veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for the client. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Q : Foxy – my GSD – is a senior (10 years) – starts gasping for breath when I take him for a walk. Please advise. – Monica, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Considering his age and signs, all I can suggest is to take him to your vet to rule out common diseases like heart failure, COPD or tracheal collapse. Inflamed airways and kennel cough may also cause such symptoms. If he finds it difficult to breathe after walk, exercise/running etc, and the vet would consider heart problems like left side heart failure. Some dogs commonly have respiratory disease (i.e., collapsing trachea, COPD) coexistent with heart disease also. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is get radiography, ECG and if possible echocardiography. Your vet might prescribe medications symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q : My dog has started shaking his right ear. Is this a sign of ear infection? How often and how do I clean the earwax build up? – Desai, Bangalore

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Otitis externa or inflammation of outer ear canal is common in dogs. Many factors can cause or contribute to the development of this ear problem in dogs. Parasites, foreign bodies, endocrine problems, allergies, etc can be a cause. Like wise ear structure (for e.g., floppy ears), errors in cleaning ears/medications predispose dog to develop this ear problem. Dogs with recurrent ear infections should be evaluated for flea allergy, atopy (pollens allergy), food allergy and yeast infections etc. Recognition of underlying causes and treatment of all the factors contributing to the ear infection are the key to successful clinical management. Do not use cotton tipped applicators to clean ears! Depending on severity and duration of ear infection, your vet may perform variety of tests from examination of discharge to radiography. Therefore, I suggest taking him to your vet as early as possible to find underlying cause and appropriate cleaning and medication protocol.

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.

Ask the Expert.. Nov-Dec 06

Q?:?I have a male Tibetan Terrier, who is 2 years and 3 months old. I feed him milk and roti for lunch and dinner and occasionally meat stock and roti. He has pedigree, biscuits, chewsticks for breakfast. Sometimes he stops eating his food. We have tried to feed him cereals, pulses and vegetables but he refuses to eat the same. He tends to eat the things we eat, refusing what is served in his bowl. He also likes to eat sweets. Are they good for his health? Please recommend a healthy diet for him.
– Aparna Thakre, Nasik

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?It is not surprising to know your pet showing this feeding behaviour. There are a number of reasons for your pet to behave like this. For e.g., he may have fear for new food, previous bad experience with the food, poor palatability or simply, he may be a fussy eater. Small breeds are generally considered as fussy eaters. Some dogs may refuse food/skip meals, when they have consumed more energy then they would require (which is common in our experience). Please make sure that you are not overfeeding him and monitor his body weight at least every two weeks.

Home made diets depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete. Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. Therefore, we suggest to feed him pet food which is developed and formulated specifically to meet all the requirements of dogs in different lifestages. You can also choose to prepare balanced home made food after consulting your vet nutritionist. Feeding sweets occasionally as a snack should not be a problem as long as it does not add significant calories.

Q?:?Please advise how to take care of a two-month-old Rottweiler puppy?
– Sanjay Gupta

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, but other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important. If you start training your puppy early, housetraining shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Patience and praise at the right time is the secret. It is essential particularly during this socialisation period that the puppy encounters all the things (people, other animals, objects) that he may encounter in adult life. A well-socialised puppy should be able to cope with any new things that he may experience in later life.

Your best ally in the prevention of health problems is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on vaccinations (starting from 6 to 20 weeks of age), worming (every 2-3 weeks until 6 months of age), feeding and the general health care of your dog. In addition to the training that occurs throughout the day during exercise and interaction with people, more formal training begins approximately 7-8 weeks of age.

Q?:?My 11-month-old Pug (male) cannot digest dog food and vomits the same. He just eats egg, milk and roti. I have tried various brands of dog food but the result is the same. He is a little overweight and snores. Also, let me know if Pugs have breathing problems. Please advise.
– Dr. Mansi S Chauhan, Bhavnagar

Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Puppy owners, in particular, are aware of the heavy nutritional demands of the puppy as he grows and may be tempted to feed as much as he will eat. However, many dogs tend to overeat and this could have damaging consequences for your puppy. The extra food received is converted into fat and stored in the body. While a dog is still young and growing, his body will produce extra fat cells to store the excess fat and, once formed, these cells stay with him for life. This may make him prone to obesity as an adult. Overfeeding of rapidly growing puppies can also cause a number of skeletal deformities in large breeds as well as other health problems. It is therefore important to monitor his general condition and record his weight regularly on the ‘Puppy Growth Chart’ to check that he is growing at a rate appropriate to the breed. If he has more than a moderate covering of fat over his ribs he may be getting too fat. When you use a prepared pet food, the label on the packaging will provide a guideline as to how much to feed your dog and it is not necessary to add any calcium or protein supplements.

Dogs with short snouts (Brachycephalic breeds) like Pugs and Bulldogs aren’t able to breathe as efficiently as dogs with longer snouts. Their elongated soft palates tend to make a snoring sound when they inhale. And, the harder the dog breathes, the greater the swelling of the soft palate. Ask your veterinarian for advice if you are unsure about your growing pet condition.

Ask the Expert / May-June 2006

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 MnM was given Coronavirus booster, within half an hour, he was vomiting and became extremely lethargic. After 2 hours, he suddenly began to suffer from itching and a violent allergic reaction set in all over his body. His vet advised me to bring him in immediately for another injection. The reaction subsided in a couple of hours but the facial oedema left him only after 24 hours. Please guide what to do when the next Coronavirus booster is due. – Nanda Anil

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Dogs are very susceptible to certain infectious diseases, especially canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and rabies. Combined vaccination (all in one) against all these diseases as well as kennel cough, corona viral gastro-enteritis etc has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. The initial vaccination series consists of one injection of a combined vaccine (multivalent) given at 6 to 8 weeks of age or about 2 weeks after weaning. Boosters are given twice at 3-4-week intervals until 16-20 weeks of age. Thereafter they require annual vaccinations. In most states, the first shot of rabies vaccine is given at 3 months of age. These booster injections not only help maintain his immunity, but they also provide a good opportunity for your veterinarian to carry out a full health check.

Adverse reactions to vaccines in dogs are very uncommon. However, some dogs may develop allergies/adverse reaction to proteins/ chemicals present in a vaccine and such dogs generally show signs immediately (or after few hours) after injections. An adverse reaction to a vaccine or drug is managed by avoiding the offending protein (allergen). Fortunately, most of these signs are reversible with immediate medical intervention. Therefore I suggest getting his booster vaccination done where such facilities are available to handle adverse reactions and make sure that such vaccination reactions are recorded in the vaccination certificate/medical record also.

Q : My dog Ruby has been diagnosed to have symptoms of false pregnancy. Please tell me about this condition, and what should I do? – Antara, Mumbai

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Phantom or false pregnancy are not uncommon in unneutered female dogs and occurs generally about 70-80 days after the start of her season. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and may include, some or all of the following: reluctance to eat, nest making, nursing or guarding inanimate objects (toy, etc), swollen mammary glands, milk production, general distress, nervous signs including panting and breathlessness and change in temperament (some may snap). The good news is that Ruby should be back to normal in 2-3 weeks time, however, there are few things which you can do to help her. To reduce milk production, reduce water intake slightly and feed less carbohydrates and increase exercise. Remove the toys/objects, which she’s nursing, and remove her bed during the day so that she can’t nest. If the symptoms are severe and these actions don’t seem to help, then it may be necessary for your vet to give her some hormone/medical therapy in form of tablets or injections. Your vet might even suggest a mild sedative if she is very distressed. As she has already had one false pregnancy, she may more likely to have others and may experience more severe symptoms. I would suggest that you discuss with your vet the pros and cons of neutering (spaying) if you are not planning to breed from her.

Q : I have noticed my dog coughing and sneezing occasionally, and having a running nose. What could be the reasons? – Suparna Saha, Kolkata

Dr. K.G. Umesh : Cough, like fever, is merely a symptom of a disease. Dogs can cough for a variety of reasons including irritation from allergies, change in climate, inhaled gases and foreign bodies. Coughing can also result from inflammation of the upper or lower airways, which can be acute (e.g., kennel cough) or more chronic (e.g. bronchitis). Likewise, if cough develops with difficulty in breathing during exercise or walk, you should also consider heart problem as one of the causes. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is to get him examined. Your vet is the right person to decide what test needs to be done immediately. Your vet might prescribe bronchiodilators or anti-tussives to suppress cough symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q :We have 3 stray dogs who hang around our house and each time I step out with Misty and Bruno – my two Labs, they try to play with them. Can my dogs catch any diseases from them. Should I get the strays vaccinated? Please advise. – Nawal Verma, Ajmer

Dr. K.G. Umesh : To make your dogs feel more comfortable around their canine counterparts, start with dogs that you already know to be trustworthy. There is no harm allowing your pets to interact with these stray dogs as long as they are healthy, vaccinated and free from fleas and skin diseases. If you are unsure about their health and behaviour, I would suggest you to take the responsibility of providing complete preventive health care for these stray dogs. Your pets should always be leashed when you take them for a walk.

Ask the Expert / Sep-Oct 2005

Q : I have a 2-year-old German Shepherd (male) who weighs around 20 kg. Although, I keep him fully vaccinated, duly de-wormed and well groomed, still he has a problem of itching and hair falling. He is also quite active but consumes a low diet (maximum two chapattis/75-100g of Pedigree food). I want him to gain more weight. Kindly guide me. –Tarun Kumar Goel, Delhi

Dr. Umesh : Itching (and hair fall) is most common sign associated with many skin affections. Ectoparasites (fleas), allergies (Atopy), and bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) account for majority of cases. Please take your pet to your vet to rule in or rule out common causes based on history, examination, skin scraping, and allergy testing etc. Dogs with severe continuous itching should be evaluated for Scabies, flea allergy, Atopy (pollens allergy) and yeast infections etc. For e.g., if fleas are present, they should be suspected as cause and aggressive flea control should be instituted to eliminate fleas from environment. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment. I would also like to point out that your dog is not receiving complete and balanced food. While he is on Pedigree, feeding home diet like meat/chapattis makes his food unbalanced. This could result in imbalance of some essential nutrients required for your dog. Hence, I suggest to feed a balanced and complete diet like Pedigree exclusively so that your dog not only enjoys eating but also show visible signs of health. I suggest to start him on Pedigree “Active” which is energy dense and should help him to put on weight as well as improve skin and coat condition. If your dog is still not putting on weight despite adequate intake of calories (even after 2 weeks of Pedigree Active feeding), I would advise you to get him examined by your vet to rule out medical conditions that cause weight loss/maldigestion.

Q : Scooby is a Great Dane who was proactive but has a changed behaviour since we shifted to our farmhouse. Earlier, he played and jumped all the time and was quite hyperactive, leaving no chance for me to rest. What should I do? –Jitaakash, Gurgaon

Dr. Rana : Moving can be stressful and disruptive for everyone involved – including your dog. There are, however, steps you can take to make the experience less traumatic. You could have made some arrangements before shifting, e.g., you could have taken your dog for a visit beforehand. Well, it is not too late to help your dog get settled in and accustomed to his new surroundings. Introduce him to all new things/ people/animals etc. over a period of time. Wait until your dog is comfortable with one room before introducing him to the next one. Make sure he knows where his things are – point out the location of your dog’s bed, toys, food, etc. so he knows where to find them. Don’t coddle your dog if he is stressed. It may just perpetuate the behaviour. Finally, make sure that throughout the day, you maintain a normal feeding and walking schedule for your dog. This will go a long way in reducing your dog’s and your stress level.

Q : I have a litter of 4 Pugs. One of the smallest, whom I have kept on liquefied puppy food along with goat milk, has developed a breathing trouble due to which food comes out of his nose. He also repeats this while nursed by his mother. I have even tried to feed him myself but still the trouble continues. Moreover, unlike his littermates, he curls and sleeps after meals. Kindly suggest the appropriate measures to control this. –Janis

Dr. Umesh : Some puppies often start regurgitating after solid food is instituted or during nursing. If one among four puppies is affected, congenital defects like cleft palate (improper closure in roof of the mouth) or megaoesophagus (enlarged food pipe) are suspected. Puppies who may regurgitate acutely may have ingested foreign body lodged in food pipe. Likewise inflamed airways due to aspiration of food/milk in windpipe could be a cause. Affected puppies fail to grow normally and become very weak. Please get him examined by your vet immediately before he develops complications. Q :We recently got a new pup home and my 3-year-old Golden Retriever is not happy about it. He growls at the new puppy and does not obey our commands. How can I help him to adjust with the new puppy? –Lila D’Souza, Mumbai

Dr. Rana : Whatever may be your reason to add another dog to the family, just be aware that it is a huge change for an older dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. Here are a few ways you can help make the process less stressful : With the puppy in your lap and your older dog on a leash held by someone else, let the older dog sniff, lick and explore the puppy. A couple of minutes is more than enough time for this initial introduction. Remove the puppy from the room, then lavish your older dog with attention and praise. On the second or third meeting, if all seems safe, allow the puppy onto the floor, and monitor that situation carefully for a few minutes. Remove the puppy from the room, and again, give your older dog praise and attention. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along. It’s not a good idea to leave your puppy alone with your older dog. There should always be someone there to supervise. When you talk to each of the dogs, use a happy, friendly tone of voice. Never talk to them in a way that is threatening. Reward good behaviour with treats and/or compliments of “good dog!”. Monitor their body language! Give your older dog some quiet time away from your puppy every once in a while. And be sure to give him lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced’.