Ask the expert…Jan-Feb 10

Q: My 9-year-old cat Princy is having trouble urinating. Please help.
– Priya, Goa


A: Dr KG Umesh: Such urinary problems can result from behavioural or medical disorders. Behavioural causes are associated with toileting preferences/aversions and marking. Typical aversions/preferences may include substrate, location, cleanliness, and style of box. When there is a toileting issue, the cat typically seeks out a preferred alternative toileting spot. Cats who mark with urine do so for a variety of reasons, including territorial delineation, anxiety, and sexual advertisement, with the basic premise being communication.

Feline lower urinary tract disorders are most common medical cause of such a sign. Feline Lower urinary tract signs (FLUTD) in cats include variable combinations of frequent attempts to urinate, straining to urinate, urinating in inappropriate places in the house (periuria), crying out during attempts to urinate, and blood tinged urine. These signs are not specific for any particular disease; they can be seen in cats who have stones in urinary tract, bacterial infections, cancer, or other mass lesions in the bladder. If investigations (urine analysis, blood tests, radiography, scan etc) are unable to find the cause for the clinical signs, it is referred to as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis syndrome. This may be obstructive and non-obstructive. Appropriate therapy to alleviate life-threatening urethral obstruction should not be withheld anticipating self-resolution. Therefore take him to your vet ASAP for complete examination.

Ask the expert..Jan-Feb 2007

Q?:?My Golden Retreiver Angel has started vomiting – we feed her twice a day. Why is this happening and what can I do to stop this?

–?Rishi Sud, Ahmedabad Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?Vomiting is only a clinical sign and not a disease. Vomiting, both acute and chronic, results from a number of causes. Most vomiting disorders are acute and reversible, requiring only supportive and symptomatic therapy. However, the vomiting patient often presents a challenge as it may be difficult to decide whether animal needs in-depth diagnostic evaluation or symptomatic treatment alone can resolve the problem. In contrast to acute problems, chronic ones are rarely self-limiting and it is usually essential to establish specific diagnosis and appropriate therapy. Q?:?Rani, my 3-year-old Pomeranian is always hungry. She eats thrice a day and still wants more. I cannot understand if we are feeding her less or she is over-eating. Please help.

–?Payal Malhotra, Amritsar Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?If she’s eating a lot, maybe she needs the food to fuel/match her activity level. Or it could just be that she’s bored. Or is she pregnant? Or has any signs of illness? Is she losing or gaining bodyweight? Some medical problems like diabetes or drugs may also cause this problem. Answer to some of these questions will help to find underlying cause for her voracious appetite. Contact your vet.

Q?:?Please provide a diet chart for my 3-month-old Labrador. Also, advise on a diet chart when he turns one.

–?Aman, Delhi Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?As the owner of a new puppy, you’ll want him to grow up fit and healthy, and reach his full genetic potential; all you have to do is provide your puppy with the correct diet right from the start. Homemade diets depending on the sources, vary with respect to quality, digestibility, and nutrient content and therefore is not balanced and complete. After all, weight for weight, a puppy needs up to two and a half times as many calories as an adult dog does. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced vet to get the nutritional balance just right. The best idea is to get your puppy used to eating commercially prepared foods from the very start. Labrador breed may not reach his adult size until he is 12-14 months old. Therefore continue to feed him puppy products like Pedigree until this age. Feed him 3-5 times per day until 5 months of age and thereafter 2-3 times per day until 9 months of age. Adult dogs are generally fed once a day.

Q?:?Goofy, my 6-year-old Labrador has started passing gas. How do I take care of this problem?

–?Prerna Shinde, Pune Dr. K.G. 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 fibre 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. There are a number of ways to decrease your dog’s intestinal gas: Check your dog food label. Many dog foods contain soy, which can be hard to digest. 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.

Q?:?Do advise me on the exercise needs of my 4-month-old Dane puppy. Also, let me know if I need to give him supplements like calcium and vitamins for the growth and development of his body.

–?Swami, Coimbatore Dr. K.G. Umesh?:?All dogs need and usually love their daily exercise. The amount your dog needs will depend not only on his size, but also on his breed. Bear in mind that some smaller breeds such as Jack Russell Terriers can have lots of energy, whereas some larger breeds such as Great Danes and St. Bernard’s are not always as energetic. Don’t make the mistake of over-exercising your dog if he’s still growing, because his bones aren’t yet strong enough to cope with the extra stress. Little and often is the rule until your dog grows to full strength. Remember that large breeds mature later than small breeds. Ask your vet for advice. Never supplement calcium or vitamins while he is fed on balanced and complete prepared foods like Pedigree. Overzealous use of calcium and feeding excessive energy is the most common problem for large breed puppies to develop hip and skeletal problems.

Ask the expert..Jan-Feb 2006

Q?:?Jhoomer, my pup (2.5 months) is a Spitz, please do let me know the immediate and yearly vaccinations and deworming schedules. –?Sarita Kumar, Mumbai Dr. Umesh?:?Infectious diseases like Parvo, Rabies, Hepatitis and Distemper have been a significant cause of illness and death in dogs, especially young animals. Combined vaccination (all in one) against these and other diseases like Kennel cough, Leptospirosis etc has proved to be a very effective means of reducing the incidence of these diseases. The vaccination will involve an initial course of injections followed by booster injections at various times 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 up. Generally, first vaccination is recommended from the age of 6 weeks and booster at 3-4 weeks interval until 16-20 weeks of age. This is followed by annual vaccination.

De-worming is an important aspect of looking after your dog. You will need to de-worm her regularly every 2-4 weeks until 6 months of age. For most adult dogs, it is sufficient to de-worm routinely every 3 months. There are many safe, effective products available which will eliminate all kinds of internal worms. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a suitable schedule and the treatment.

Q?:?I want my German Shepherd puppy to have very strong bones. How can I meet his calcium requirements? Also my Golden Retriever recently had a very bad tick problem. Is it safe to keep the two dogs together ? –?Deepak Deshmukh, Pune Dr. 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. Some dog owners prepare homemade foods for their pets. But it’s difficult even for an experienced breeder/pet owner to get the nutritional balance just right. Growing large breed puppies like yours are prone to develop skeletal problems by either overfeeding or underfeeding energy or/and calcium. The best way 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 dog’s nutritional requirements and they don’t require any food supplements including calcium. There are two main types of complete dog food: moist in cans or pouches and dry in packages. Both types can be made from meat, poultry, and/or grains, and provide balanced nutrition, with all the necessary nutrients including calcium. Your vet will advise right amount of calcium depending on what you feed. Successful control of ticks depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. Your veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for you. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.

Q?:?My dog Raja, a Great Dane, is 7 years old. Since last 10 days, I find him moving with difficulty. Their are no external signs of any injury on his leg. What do you think could be the possible reasons? –?Jayalakshmi, Chennai Dr. Umesh?:?Lameness or limping in senior large breeds like yours is common as a result of variety of skeletal, metabolic or degenerative diseases. It can affect joints, tendons or bones. This can also be the result of infection, malnutrition or trauma or it could simply be minor problem like “muscle pull.” Therefore, get him examined as early as possible. There are many safe medicines and physiotherapy available for management of joint or skeletal diseases in pets.

Q?:?I have a beautiful Cocker named Cocoa who is 11 years old. She has been bumping into a lot of objects, like furniture etc. Is she loosing her eyesight? What should we do? –?Vikram Chauhan, Gurgaon Dr. Umesh?:?Firstly, I suggest you to confirm with your vet whether she has developed blindness or some neurological problem. There are number of reasons including cataract (opacity of lens) for developing this clinical problem in a senior dog. Has this problem developed suddenly or over a period of time? Please take her to your vet who can help to find/rule-out underlying cause based on the onset of the problem, physical /neurological and eye examination. Based on the findings, he might also suggest further eye tests to confirm the cause. Sooner the visit, the better the chances of recovery.

Q?:?I have a 3-month-old Lab pup. She is having some problems over the skin. The skin is peeling off continuously. I have applied some medicines in consultation with doctor, but no improvement so far. Please help me.

S.P. Venugopalan

Dr. Umesh?:?Skin affections are very common in dogs. Ectoparasites like fleas, mites (mange), and bacterial skin infections (pyoderma) may account for majority of cases. 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. You need to follow strict hygiene rules to prevent your dog from getting parasites/germs. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment.

Ask the Expert/Jan-Feb 2005

Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well-renowned vet in Delhi. He has his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.

Dr. 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 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 : When I take my dog Diana, a 2 year old Labrador for playing in the park- she whines looking at the other dogs present. Does she want to meet them? Is she unhappy? She also eats grass, is that dangerous? Should I find out if the park has been sprayed with some fertilisers- which might be dangerous for her? – K Murthi, Bangalore

Dr. Rana : I am sure you know why a Labrador is such a popular breed worldwide. Being a very friendly, intelligent and energetic breed, they are very anxious to please everyone around and are very gentle and kind to children. They can play for hours without tiring. No wonder Diana wants to meet and play with the other dogs she meets in the park. It’s playtime for her and this behaviour is absolutely normal. But please be careful of what she eats. Yes fertilisers and pesticides can be life threatening!

Q : My 5 month old German Shepherd pup Buzo is very active. While sleeping too, he keeps moving his paws. Is he dreaming? First we were amused but now are getting concerned if he is getting proper rest? – Ritu, Mumbai

Dr. Umesh : Puppies spend most of their time sleeping. There is considerable motor activity during sleep and is characterised by jerking, tremor, crawling, scratching and occasional vocalisation. Scientists are not sure whether puppies can also dream but definitely show some electrical changes in their brain during sleep. Do not worry if this movement happens only during sleep. This type of movements generally disappears as age advances.

Whether he’s a new resident in your home or you’ve had him for some time, there are some things which you can do help him settle. Make sure that he has a comfortable bed which is placed away from draughty areas. Your puppy may be feeling separation anxiety from you as well as from his mum. The blanket from mum place (ask mum’s owner to put the blanket on his mum for couple of days before collecting it) would be a comfort for him. You can also try soft toy or soft light which may make him feel more settled. Consult your vet for further examination if this activity worsens.

Q : I have noticed white flakes on my dog-Sultan, when I brush his hair. Is it dandruff? Should I stop brushing? Please advice. – Kirti Somiya, Mumbai

Dr. Rana : Flaky skin can be caused due to a number of reasons like poor diet, stress, shampooing too often, etc and of course dandruff. Dandruff flakes are slightly different since they tend to be more oily and larger than the dry skin flakes. Since you have not mentioned about any foul smell or oily flakes, I gather it could easily be a nutritional cause. Try a commercially available petfood like Pedigree, which addresses nutritional needs.

Q : My blue colour Great Dane female is 20 days pregnant and the father is a light brown brindle coloured Dane. This is the first time that I have a pregnant dog at home so, I have the following queries: What should her feed be? What arrangements should I do for her delivery? What colour pups can I expect? Anything that you feel is important to know? – Rahul Gandhi, Sirsa, Haryana

Dr. Umesh : Make sure that your dog’s pregnancy is confirmed by tests available from your vet. Pregnancy ranges from 60-67 days and most deliver between 63 and 65 days.

Feeding: Her food intake should not be altered during first two-thirds of her pregnancy, i.e. until approximately 6 weeks of pregnancy, and if a complete food is being fed, there is no need to give additional vitamin or mineral supplements. After 6th week, food intake should be gradually increased by 15% until she is receiving 50-60% more food when she gives birth (whelps). At the height of lactation, approximately 3 weeks after whelping, food intake should be 2.5 to 3 times her normal maintenance food, particularly if she is feeding a large litter. A high energy complete prepared food like “Pedigree Active” fed in a number of small meals is ideal during late pregnancy and lactation.

Delivery arrangements : It is helpful to get her familiar with the place you want her to have the puppies well in advance of the whelping. Prior to the time of delivery, a whelping box (or a quite place at home) should be selected and placed in a secluded place such as a closet or a dark corner. The box or the selected place should be long enough for her to move around freely and the floor or the bottom of the box should be lined with several layers of newspaper or any disposable, absorbent safe bedding material. I suggest regular visits to your vet for monitoring her pregnancy and health. She would also require deworming around 45 days of pregnancy. It is difficult to predict colour of puppies and it is good to have some surprises. Please consult your vet to get more info on signs of whelping and puppy care.

Q : What age is a dog considered to be old? My dog Julie, a Golden Retriever, is 7+. Should I keep her on the same food and exercise? Should I take her to the doctor for regular check ups? – Vikas Rao, Hyderabad

Dr. Rana : Dogs reaching the final “one-third” of their lifespan undergo a variety of physical and metabolic changes that may cause them discomfort and change their behaviour. For example the senses — sight, hearing, taste and smell — are reduced. Metabolism slows and immunocompetence decreases. Muscle and bone mass decline, and arthritis may affect the joints. There is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and endocrine, renal and hepatic disorders. From now on, do take Julie for regular health checkups to your vet, at least once every 3-6 months so that they are able to catch any abnormality and treat it sooner than later.