FAQs on the role of nutrients for Skin health

Here are FAQs on the role of nutrients for your pooch’s healthy skin…

Skin, body’s largest organ, is a natural protector against toxic substances, dehydration, infection and ultraviolet light. Skin health is reflective of overall health status of pets. Healthy skin is flexible, without scabs, white flakes or any red areas. Skin of dogs and cats is sensitive and is vulnerable to multiple infections.

What are the important nutrients for good skin health in pets?
Good nutrition can have a positive effect on an animal’s skin and coat. Proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are important nutrients required for healthy skin and coat in dogs and cats. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) play a major role in the maintenance of healthy coat and skin of dogs and cats, and are called essential fatty acids as they cannot be synthesised in the body. Thus, EFAs must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
What causes dull skin and poor coat in pets?
Deficiency of nutrients especially fatty acids, vitamins and minerals causes dullness in skin and loss of shine in the coat of pets.
What are the two important EFAs for pets?
The two most important EFAs commonly required by pets are Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 3 fatty acids include EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docohexaenoic Acid), and Omega 6 fatty acids include Linoleic Acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).

What is the role of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids in pets?  
Fatty acids play many important roles in pet’s body, of which few important ones are:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids are necessary structural components of cell membranes and maintain cell membrane permeability, thereby protecting loss of nutrients and entry of infectious agents into the skin.
  • Omega 6 fatty acids help in maintaining skin and coat in good condition.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are precursors for eicosanoids, such as prostaglandins that prevent inflammation.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids regulate epidermal (outer most layer of skin) proliferation, thus promotes keratinisation leading to rapid wound healing.
  • Omega fatty acids help in improving the heart health, improve the memory and trainability

What are the common conditions in pets where fatty acid supplementation is required?
Omega 3 fatty acids supplementation is important in pets suffering with allergic dermatitis, poor immune system, and inflammatory disorders like arthritis, etc.
Omega 6 fatty acids help in maintaining the integrity of skin and are responsible for the lusture and sheen in the healthy hair coat.

What is the role of vitamins and minerals in pet skin health?
Vitamins and minerals are important in maintaining various metabolic pathways in the body and healthy skin in pets. Deficiency or excess of either leads to skin problems.

  • Vitamin A is involved in the regulation of cellular growth and differentiation and is important in keratinisation process and either excess or deficiency leads to hyperkeratinisation, scaly skin, loss of hair, and increased susceptibility to microbial infections in pets.
  • Vitamin E as it is involved in fatty acid utilisation.
  • Zinc and Selenium are two important minerals that promote wound healing and act as antioxidants respectively.

(Dr Ritesh Sood is Product Manager, Animal Health Division, The Himalaya Drug Company, Bengaluru).

Social and health benefits of pet interaction

Scientific evidence is increasingly showing that pets are good for people. UK and international research demonstrates that interaction with pet can reduce visits to doctor, enhance social interactions, enrich quality of life for elderly people, perform vital role in child development and so on. Let’s see how does it happen.

Pets also improve chances of survival after life-threatening illness, reduce blood pressure and perceived levels of stress, provide companionship and enhance social interactions, modify human behaviour promoting responses from those who are withdrawn, aggressive or mentally ill, prevent re-offending in juvenile prisoners and positively affect school attendance rates.
Kids with pets take fewer sick days
A study examining 256 children (aged five to eleven years) in three schools in England and Scotland revealed that children from families with pets have significantly better school attendance due to lower levels of absenteeism through illness than those from families without pets. Absenteeism through illness was significantly less among children with pets. Children with pets attended school for an additional three weeks of school compared to children without pets (aged five to seven years).
Keeps the doctor away
A large-scale survey of more than 11,000 Australians, Chinese and Germans proved that pet parents enjoy better health than non-pet parents. Over a five year period, pet parents made 15 – 20 percent fewer annual visits to the doctor than non pet-parents.Pets can help reduce the risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis A number of studies have shown that exposure to cats and/ or dogs in the first year of life can reduce subsequent risks of allergic sensitisation to multiple allergens during childhood, including non-pet allergens. Research also shows that exposure to pets is associated with a significantly reduced risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis. Pets benefit cancer patients Pets can play a role for people who are undergoing stress. In a study which looked at women between 50-60 years of age recovering from breast cancer, 87 percent of these subjects reported that their pets filled at least one important role in their social support and 43 percent said that their pets fulfill over 10 important support functions – being cared for, tactile comfort, being able to express their feelings and still feeling included socially – e.g. when taking the dog for a walk.
Preventing/recovering from illness
Research from the University of New York found that men who had pets had lower resting heart rates and blood pressure – indicating that pet parenting can bring improvements to all aspects of the pet parent’s life.
Helping widowers cope with stress
In this study, pet parents at three months after bereavement showed fewer physical symptoms, such as crying, than non-pet owners. Pet parents often confided in their pets to help release painful feelings, at times when sharing these feelings with other people were felt to be socially uncomfortable.
Child development
Pets perform a vital role in child development. A study has explored children’s perceptions of the social support gained from relationships with their pets and with people – looking at who they would turn to first in certain situations. Pets featured prominently in children’s selections, providing comfort, companionship and a confidante in a similar manner to humans.
A huge 90 percent of children regard their dog as an unconditional friend and listener. Pet dogs have a stabilising and therapeutic effect – both from a child’s perspective and a mother’s point of view.
It is well-known fact that children are fascinated by animals. This interest can help facilitate learning and have a positive effect on child development. Many school communities have introduced pets in a number of imaginative and practical ways. Pet clubs, pet assemblies or pet days can help nurture a sense of reverence for life, give children a sense of responsibility and provide a fun route into many curriculum areas.
Positive influence of dogs on children in divorce crises
In the first year after a parental divorce, children with a dog were more socially integrated and less aggressive. The reasons are clear – dogs represent a constant positive emotional feeling.
Animal assisted rehabilitation
Results captured from three diverse Californian juvenile institutions have proven ‘at-risk’ teens gain more psycho-social skills (anger management, emotional self-control, parenting skills, etc) through guided human-animal interaction than from years in a classroom.
Pets prevent prisoners reoffending
The therapeutic power of dog interaction was highlighted by the results of Project Pooch (Positive Opportunities, Obvious Change, With Hounds), showing that 100 percent of teenage offenders following a dog therapy programme did not return to the correctional system. Such results provide promising outcomes for the ability of dogs to teach troubled youth responsibility, patience, compassion and a positive work ethic.

Understanding common ear problems

Ears are a vital part of the body – they not only help in hearing, they also maintain the balance. Hence, it is very important to take care of your
pooch’s ears.

Kritika Manchanda

Kritika Manchanda

The canine ear is divided into three parts – the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The most common ear problems in dogs are caused by parasites, foreign bodies, climatic conditions and allergies.
Causes of ear problems…
Parasites cause extreme irritation and itching in dogs. Fleas are havoc for pets and indirectly for pet parents. Some fleas live on the outside of a dog’s ear flap and cause tissue erosion, in addition to intense itchiness, which leads to scratching and self-inflicted wounds.
Mites, such as otodectic, demodectic and/or sarcoptic mange mites, have a special fondness for the ear of your pet. They thrive in the warm moist area where the air flow is restricted, usually in the ear canals. They feed on epidermal debris and ear wax. In most cases, these are visible to the naked eye in the form of dark reddish brown or black debris throughout the ear canal. Ear mite infections can be serious, if left untreated, resulting in damage to the ear canals and eardrums. In extreme conditions, it can lead to deformity of the ears and even deafness.
Some ear problems occur due to excessively high temperature and high level of humidity. The inside area of the ear proves to be a perfect setting for the growth of yeast and bacteria. This can cause a number of adverse symptoms, including ears that are itchy, swollen, smelly, sore and painful.
Other causes of canine ear inflammation/infection can be fly or other insect bites, wounds from animal fights, ticks, polyps, tumours of the wax-producing glands in the ear canal or other forms of cancer of the ear. Ear tissues can also be damaged by a dog’s nails, as they try to relieve itching by vigorous scratching. The main symptom of any kind of ear infection is frequent head shaking and constant itching.

Dr. Aradhana

Dr. Aradhana

Breed-specific ear problems…
Dogs with long, low-set and low-hanging ears such as the Cocker Spaniel, Bassett Hound and Bloodhound tend to develop various types of ear infections. Dr Aradhana Pandey, a specialist in canine clinical medicine, pet grooming, pet nutrition and behaviour, adds that ear infections and inflammations are also common in dogs with narrow ear canal like Pugs. For breeds who have erect ears like German Shepherd, getting water in their ears while bathing is a common problem which can later lead to discomfort.
While, Dr Pavan Kumar from Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Hospital, Bengaluru, adds that German Shepherd has a higher risk of ‘otitis externa’ as compared to other breeds; Basset Hound and Cocker Spaniel have higher risk of ear haematoma, whereas White Boxer and Dalmatian
are seen in a large number of incidences of deafness.
Ear problems…
Apart from these parasitic and allergic infections, the other ear problems include: canine vestibular syndrome, masses within the ear, haematoma
and otitis.
Canine Vestibular Syndrome: This disorder usually occurs in old dogs, but there can be cases where

Dr Neelima

Dr Neelima

even the young and middle-aged dogs can get affected by it. Canine Vestibular Syndrome (CVS) is a condition which develops due to inflammation of the nerves connecting the cerebellum (part of the brain) to the inner ear. According to Dr Aradhana, the dogs suffering from this disorder tilt their head in one direction that may vary from a slight tilt to complete head bending that can lead to sudden loss of balance. The main symptoms include balance problems, vomiting and difficulty in eating or drinking.
As cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls balance, some dogs are unable to stand properly due to loss of balance. Nausea and Nystagmus (rhythmic eye motion) are also common symptoms. Some dogs can also face problem in eating and drinking from their bowls because of balancing problems.
Dr Neelima Paranjpe, surgeon, and leading vet consultant from Mumbai, adds that CVS can occur in two ways. First being the peripheral way, which is more common and the second being the central. Since this problem affects a nerve, the effect can be seen at either ends of the nerve. If it is peripheral, it affects the inner and the middle ear and if it is central then the effect is mainly seen at the other end of the nerve. Talking about the detection procedure, Dr Neelima suggested that MRI (Magnetic Resonant Imaging) is the best way to detect this problem as it gives effective results and the accuracy
is also high.
On asking upon how severely does it affect the canine and what are the chances of a dog to fully recover from CVS, Dr Aradhana replies that the recovery totally depends on the severity of the damage that has been done to the brain. If the damage to the brain is minimal then recovery may occur quickly. If the damage is severe, recovery may not occur at all. In cases when dogs do not recover fully from vestibular syndrome, they normally have a good life. They adjust to residual problems like head tilts and do not seem to be bothered at all by them. She also says that in her practice she has most commonly encountered CVS in Pugs.
Masses Within the Ear: This disorder can be caused by a benign or cancerous growth within the ear. The cause of the development of the mass is generally not known. Often these masses can lead to impaired hearing, irritation, infection, or neurological problems.
Haematoma: It usually occurs when a dog continually shakes his ears to try to get rid of the itching and irritation caused by mites. Due to excessive head shaking, sometimes the tissues get damaged, blood leaks into the tissues and a haematoma type bubble appears on the ear. Speaking to Dr Neelima Paranjpe, we found that Haematoma is nothing but collection of blood within the ear. She explained that there is a layer of cartilage which is made up of a number of capillaries, between the external layer of the skin and the internal layer. Due to extensive shaking of head or constant rigorous movement these capillaries break and as a result blood starts oozing out. The blood starts collecting between the skin and the cartilage, which cannot be seen by the pet parent. In simple words it can also be termed as haemorrhage.
Dr Neelima suggests two ways to treat the problem of Haematoma. The first one being surgery, wherein the internal wound is cut open in a surgical process. The healing takes about 10 to 15 days. The problem with the surgery is that the pet parent has to take extra care of the pet post surgery. Dogs tend to shake their head and get irritated with the stitches and as a result keep itching or scratching their ears. The second option is homeopathy treatment. The treatment takes up to two months to completely heal the ear but the best part is that this method of treatment is totally pain free. The patients who adjust to the extra weight in the ear due to collection of blood are given this form of treatment whereas the ones who tend to become uncomfortable with the added weight are treated surgically.
Otitis: Otitis means inflammation of ear (redness, pain, swelling, heat and loss of function). It causes the ear to become inflamed as a result of a food allergy, plant allergy or an allergic reaction to a parasite such as an ear mite or sarcoptic mange mite. The most common causes of Otitis inflammation are allergies, yeast/bacterial/fungal infections, parasites and stenosis. Depending on which part of the ear is affected it is referred as Otitis Externa (external ear), Otitis Media (middle ear) and Otitis Interna (internal ear).

Easy ear care tips…

  • Make sure you take extra care while cleaning your dog’s ears and do not insert any foreign body or any sharp object into their ears.
  • Do not pour any solution into the ear canal without consulting the vet.
  • If you want to clean the ears at home, always use a cotton ball and the solution suggested by the vet.
  • Be very patient and gentle, because even a little carelessness can lead to serious damage to your pet’s ears.
  • It is a good option to get some help if your pet is really active and is not cooperating.
  • You can also get your pooch’s ears cleaned by a professional.
  • Keep the sessions short so as not to stress out the pet.
  • Treat your pet after he cooperates with you in the cleaning session.
  • If the ear drops are prescribed, learn the technique to put them from your vet.
  • After you give ear drops you should always give some treats to your pet, so that he does not fear the next session and cooperates with you.

(With inputs from Dr Aradhana Pandey, Doggy World, New Delhi; Dr Pavan Kumar, Cessna Lifeline Veterinary Hospital, Bengaluru and Dr Neelima Paranjpe, Pluto Pet Clinic, Mumbai.)

OTITIS Causes, Treatment & Management

Otitis externa and otitis media are two common ear problems in pooches. Here are the causes, symptoms and treatment for these ear problems.

Otitis externa is defined as an acute or chronic inflammation of the epithelium of the external ear canal which Otitismay also involve the pinna. The condition is characterised by erythema and increased discharges or desquamation of the epithelium with varying degrees of pain or pruritus. Contributing predisposing and primary factors for otitis externa must be evaluated or the condition is likely to become chronic, ultimately resulting in an end-stage ear with surgery the only viable option.
Otitis externa often results when a change in the normal environment of the ear canal causes the glands lining the canal to enlarge and produce excessive wax. Gradually, the outer skin (epidermis) and the inner skin (dermis) produce excessive fibrous tissue (fibrosis) and the canal becomes narrowed. It is normally a secondary symptom of another underlying disease, such as an infection.
While, otitis media is defined as inflammation of the middle ear and is an important perpetuating cause of otitis externa. Otitis media typically occurs as an extension of otitis externa, causing a ruptured membrane (tympanum) that separates the external ear and the middle ear.
Otitis externa and otitis media affect dogs and cats of any age and breed. As responsible pet parents, we can protect our canines from these ear problems.

Symptoms to look out for!

  • Pain
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching/itching at the external ear flaps
  • Bad odour
  • Redness and Swelling of the external ear canal
  • Scaling skin or obstruction of the ear canal
  • Tilting the head
  • Anorexia
  • Un-coordination and
  • Occasional vomiting

Causes of otitis
Foreign bodies: Plant material, dirt, sand, dried medicaments, cross-lodged hairs can cause otitis.  Diagnosis is more complicated if bilateral or if the condition has progressed with the appearance of a purulent discharge which may be confused with a primary bacterial disorder.
Ear tumours and polyps: Patients with ear canal tumours or polyps will present with unilateral otitis externa and possibly otitis media. Common tumours include sebaceous gland adenomas and adenocarcinomas, ceruminous gland adenomas and adenocarcinomas, carcinomas of undetermined origin, and squamous cell carcinomas. All masses within the ear canal should be surgically removed as soon as possible and positively diagnosed by biopsy.
Bacterial: Cytology is very important to estimate numbers of organisms. More common pathogens include Staphylococcus intermedius, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterococcus spp, and Proteus spp. ‘Swimmer’s Ear’ can be a problem in dogs resulting from a combination of water retention, epidermal maceration and secondary infection with Pseudomonas spp.
Mycotic infections: In otitis, fungal organisms isolated are candida spp and rarely dermatophytes.

Diagnosis of otitis
Techniques like otoscopy, pneumotoscopy, bulla radiographs, otic endoscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to identify the accumulation of fluid or soft tissue growth in the middle ear. Otitis media was diagnosed in over 80 percent of these ears with chronic otitis.
Vets also need to know the history of the pet and will conduct a complete physical examination as well as otic examination (pinna, otoscopic examination of the external ear canal). Gram negative bacteria  is indicated by purulent, pale yellow, thick, tenacious, sweet smelling exudates while gram positive bacteria  is indicated by  light brown, creamy exudates. Ear mites  symptoms include dark brown to black crumbly exudates while those for yeasts include dark brown sweet smelling exudates.
Vet will perform a cytological examination, bacterial culture and sensitivity and additional diagnostic, testing like skin scrapings, fungal cultures, thyroid evaluation, allergy testing (skin or serum testing for inhaled allergens), ear canal biopsy, CT scan and hemogram and serum biochemistry profile.

Treating otitis
Treatment for otitis externa and otitis media usually involves outpatient care, unless the inflammation or infection has moved into the inner ear. In most cases of otitis externa, a topical therapy following a complete cleansing of the external ear is an effective resolution to the problem.
The topical therapy may consist of antibacterial, corticosteroid, anti-yeast, and antiseptic drops. In severe cases of otitis externa and otitis media – where the presence of infectious organisms has been confirmed – oral antibiotics and antifungal may be prescribed. Corticosteroids may also be used to reduce the animal’s pain and swelling.
Systemic antibiotics are prescribed for severe, chronic, or recurrent bacterial otitis externa and for all cases of otitis media. While, systemic antifungal agent Ketoconazole at 5-10 mg/kg/day should be considered along with topical therapy for treatment of yeast otitis media for 3-4 weeks, but should be continued until follow-up cytology confirms that the infection is cleared. Also, Zeps surgery can be performed for the correction of otitis media in dog.

Living and management
Follow-up treatments for otitis externa and otitis media involve repeat examinations of the ear discharge and control of any underlying diseases. With the proper therapy, most cases of otitis externa will resolve within three to four weeks, whereas otitis media takes a considerably longer time to treat it and up to six weeks to be resolved. If these conditions persist over long periods of time and are not treated, they may lead to deafness, facial nerve paralysis, otitis interna, and (rarely) meningo-encephalitis. So, take care of your pooch’s ears!
(Dr Vikash Sharma is MVSc & AH (surgery) at Animo Pet Care & Research Center, Patna.)

Pearly whites: window to your pooch’s health

Probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs show signs of periodontal disease by the age of three. Here’s how to take care of your pooch’s teeth.

The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. TartarUntitled-5 accumulates, and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red, and swell. At this point, without medical intervention, gingivitis or inflammation of the gum takes over. This process leads to bad breath. And worse, it often leads to damage to the jawbones, and loss of teeth. Pet parents 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 toothpaste made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews (Dentastix) result in a significant reduction of plaque and calculus accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog food like Pedigree also helps prevent dental plaque accumulation.

Spot check – Teeth and gums
Puppies enjoy chewing on everyday household objects. Discourage your dog from doing that and provide him with a specially designed toy. Although puppies will generally not have problems with their teeth or gums, plaque can quickly build up at the base of the teeth and cause gum disease in dogs as young as 12 months. To reduce the risk of this happening, regularly check your pet’s teeth. Special dog biscuits or chews are very beneficial and help clean the plaque off your dog’s teeth. You can also introduce tooth brushing at this age.
Lift your dog’s lips away from his gums, and press a finger firmly over an upper tooth. When taken away, the white colour of the finger imprint on the gum should return to pink. Open the dog’s mouth to inspect all his teeth. Beware of tartar build-up, which is yellow to dark brown in colour, and can lead to periodontal disease. This should be removed by a veterinarian. Regular veterinary dental cleaning along with specially designed pet toothbrushes and toothpaste and chew snacks, designed to eliminate plaque, can help reduce build-up.

What you can do to help your dog?
First of all, have your dog visit your vet to have his teeth properly cleaned. The procedures used are similar to what we go through when we visit the dentist to have our teeth cleaned. The difference is that dogs who have their teeth cleaned are either sedated with a tranquiliser or, more commonly, put under general anesthesia. In between visits to the vet, brush your pet’s teeth regularly. How do you do this? It’s easy. First, go to your vet’s shop and buy a toothbrush designed for using on dogs, along with toothpaste made for dogs.

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 doing teeth farther back in the mouth, brushing the premolars, then molars with the same motion you used on the front teeth. Consult your vet for suitable brush and paste.

dog health

Health myths busted!

Although pet parents are becoming more and more educated about their pets’ health, care, management and behaviour, many still believe some of the common myths that veterinarians have been trying to debunk for years. Following are some of those myths and the actual facts.

Myth: Mutts are always healthier than purebred dogs.

Fact: Both mutts and purebred dogs can be either healthy or unhealthy. However, mutts generally do not have many of the genetic diseases that may be common in purebred lines.

Myth: Dogs usually get worms when fed on milk.

Fact: Dogs do not get worms from drinking milk. But they will often get diarrhoea because many of them losedog health lactase, an enzyme essential for the digestion of milk, around the age of 6-8 weeks. Young animals often are infested with worms because of direct contamination by their mother during pregnancy or through maternal milk and unhygienic environment. This is why it’s important to treat both mothers and their litters for worms.

Myth: Dogs are sick when their noses are warm or dry.

Fact: A warm nose does not indicate health or illness. There is a ‘myth’ that cold wet noses indicate good health and that warm or dry noses indicate a fever or illness. The only accurate method to assess a dog’s temperature is by using thermometers i.e., indicating a fever or illness. Normal dog temperature is between 100.5-102.5oF.

Dogs have wet noses because some of their tear glands empty into their noses. A dry nose does not necessarily indicate a sick dog. If your dog’s dry nose is not inflamed or infected especially if he is eating and playing normally, then everything should be fine.

Myth: Dogs eat grass when they are sick.

Fact: As dogs are naturally predators and have descended from wild wolves and foxes who used to eat their entire ‘kill’ including the stomach contents of many animals who ate berries and grass. Many scientists believe grass was once part of dog’s normal diet and eating small amounts of grass is normal.

Myth: Sea bath gets rid of ticks and fleas.Fact: Sea salt can kill adult fleas but it cannot kill larva. Also, it cannot eliminate fleas from your home or yard. If your dog has fleas, consult your vet for a holistic treatment.Myth: Dogs with scabies are also carrying rabies.Fact: Perhaps not a common myth, but I have quite a fair amount of clients in the past 10 years who tell me this as fact. I suppose it is because both diseases sound similar. Ignorance is bliss! –Dr Jenny Viegas, Goa

Myth: Dogs will let you know when they are sick.

Fact: This is not true. Dogs generally are very good at hiding that they are sick by survival instinct, thus not to appear vulnerable to “prey”. Often by the time they show you that they are sick, their disease or condition is quite advanced.

Myth: Dogs who are mostly indoors don’t need heartworm prevention.

Fact: This is not true. Indoor pets are also at risk for heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes, which can come inside.

Myth: Garlic prevents fleas in dogs.

Fact: Fleas are not bothered by garlic or any other plant. If your dog needs flea treatment, consult your vet.

Myth: Dogs eat rocks, lick concrete or eat their or another animals stools because of nutrient imbalances.

Fact: No one knows why dogs eat ‘stuff’ that they should not eat. Some veterinarians believe that some dogs who eat ‘things’ may be trying to get attention or acting out of boredom. It is important for dogs to eat a well-balanced diet that will fulfil their dietary and nutrient requirements and have plenty of opportunities for play and exercise.

Myth: Dogs don’t need to be housebroken – they naturally know where to go. If they make a mess in the house, they should be punished.

Fact: You need to train your dog on where to go. This preferably happens when started at a young age and gives dog positive encouragement for jobs well done, rather than punishment when by find a mess after the fact. Punishment does not serve any useful purpose, and will only make dog nervous.

Myth: Household ‘pet dogs’ don’t need to be trained.

Fact: Every dog is required to be trained.

Myth: Happy dogs wag their tails.

Fact: This may be true but both happy and aggressive dogs often wag their tails. There are several physical body motions and cues that help dogs communicate their intent. A dog who wags his tail slowly and moves his entire rear end or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position is usually demonstrating a friendly wag. While, tails that are wagged when held higher, tails that “twitch” or a wagging tail held over the back may be associated with aggression.

Myth: Licking is healing.

Fact: It is natural for a dog to lick his wound but this not necessarily always ‘healing’. Too much licking can actually prohibit healing process due to regular irritation by licking. Since dogs routinely lick their anus and other objects that are laden with bacteria, licking can also deposit infectious bacteria on and into the wounds, thus potentially causing a serious infection.

Myth: Pets become fat and lazy after being spayed or neutered. In any case we don’t need to neuter males because they aren’t the ones having the litters. It’s better to allow your female to have one litter before she is spayed. Fact: The only changes in behaviour you’ll see are positive ones. Male dogs tend to reduce their territorial spraying and marking depending upon the age at which they are neutered. If neutered young enough, before they develop thehabit of spraying and marking, they may never develop the behaviour. Neutered male dogs fight less, prevent diseases and wander less. If your pet shows signs of putting on a little weight, reduce the calories and increase the walks or play sessions. Spaying your female dog at a young age prevents uterine infections like pyometra, which can be fatal. Infections of the uterus are a major cause of illness in unspayed pets. In fact, spayed and neutered animals live longer, happier, healthier lives.–Dr Kunal, Max Vets Dogs and Cats Hospital, New Delhi

Myth: Dogs like tasty food.

Fact: Dogs eat primarily on the basis of sense of smell as they have very poor taste buds.

Myth: Table scraps are good for dogs.

Fact: Some table scraps such as bones and pieces of fat can be dangerous to some pets. Dogs may not digest the bones and the fat may cause gastrointestinal problems such as pancreatitis, while chunks of bone can obstruct the intestines. Cooked bones are brittle and when they are chewed they can break up into sharp fragments that can pierce the intestines, which can cause a life-threatening emergency.

Myth: Dogs see in black and white.

Fact: Dogs do not see in black and white due to dichromatic vision; they can only see a part of the range of colours that are in visible spectrum. It’s believed that dogs are able to see various shades of yellow and blue since they have cones which detect these wavelengths of light. They have colour vision similar to red/green colour blind people. They only possess two of the three types of core (colour sensing cells in the retina): blue, green and yellow (often called red). Dogs only have blue and yellow and the yellow core detects yellow and red. When the yellow gets stimulated it signals either yellow or red, the yellow when mixed with signals from the blue receptors will detect green. Therefore dogs cannot detect the difference between red and green.

Myth: Dogs age seven years for every human year.

Fact: Unfortunately, it’s not very accurate because dogs mature much more quickly than humans do. Dogs have shorter childhoods and longer adulthoods. A more accurate formula would be: 10 and 1/2 dog years for the first two years, then four dog years per year thereafter. However, this formula does not take the dog’s size into consideration. We know that small dogs tend to live longer than large dogs, as much as twice as long. One way to handle the influence of size on a dog’s aging is to change the multiplication factor used once a dog is past two years old.

For small to medium sized dogs, multiply by four, for large dogs, multiply by six and for giant breeds, multiply by eight.

Myth: All dogs like to be petted on their heads.

Fact: Some dogs do like to be petted on their heads but many do not.

Myth: Dogs who scoot their anal areas on the ground have worms.

Fact: It may be true in some cases but not always. While dogs infected with tapeworms or other intestinal worm may scoot on the ground, most such pets have overly full or inflamed anal sacs. Anal sacs are structures located near the dog’s anus that produce a foul scent. Sometimes the ducts of these sacs close up causing a build up of material that causes itching and burning. In an attempt to relieve this discomfort, the dog scoots his anal area along the ground.

Myth: If a medication is all natural or homeopathic, it must be safe enough for my pet.

Fact: Herbal and natural remedies have the same concerns that regular medications have; they can become toxic if given in incorrect doses, given to a particular species which cannot tolerate the medication, or given along with another medication with which it may cause reactions. Pet parents should always check with their veterinarian before adding any type of medication to their pet’s regular diet, even if the product claims to be safe and nontoxic.

Myth: Only certain breeds of dogs will bite or attack people and a dog who attacks livestock or other animals is always a danger to people as well.

Fact: Any age, breed, sex and size of dog may bite. Some dogs or breeds of dogs may be more likely to bite than others if not socialised, trained and controlled properly. Pedigree dogs will bite for the same reasons as cross breeds and as often. Not all dogs who attack other animals are dangerous to people.

Myth: Dogs will bite people if they are fed fresh meat and will attack if the person has provoked the dog by teasing or cruelty.

Fact: A dog’s diet will not make him attack people but his environment and his pet parent’s behaviour do affect it. Dog attacks can be provoked accidentally and the victim is not always to be blamed.

(Dr Vikas Mahajan is PhD Scholar; D Dhirendra Kumar is Assistant Professor cum Scientist, Division of Animal Breeding & Genetic; Dr Pranav Kumar is Assistant Professor cum Scientist, Division of Veterinary & AH Extension, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences & AH, Jammu while Vibha Raj Shanti is Master in Applied Microbiology & Intellectual Property Law Scholar.)

feactures fun and frolic

Skin: mirror of your pet’s health

Skin…the lifeguard

The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body. It forms a barrier to protect thefeactures fun and frolic body from infections, infestations and other harmful elements. It also maintains body’s internal environment, prevents loss of moisture and other body constituents. Its daily exposure to outside environment makes it susceptible to injury and diseases, which are very easily visible on proper skin examination.

The basic facts…

Skin cells: The skin is made up of layers of cells, lubricating (sebaceous) glands, blood vessels, nerve endings, and hair follicles which produce hair. The skin cells form layers, namely the tough outer covering called the ‘epidermis’ and the deeper layer called the ‘dermis’. The epidermis is composed of older cells that form a tough, almost impervious, protective outer barrier. While, the deeper layer (dermis) contains hair follicles, blood vessels, nerves and sebaceous (oil) glands. Hair follicles and sebaceous glands are more prevalent on the back than on the belly. Hair and nails are made of a hard substance called keratin.

Types of coat: Dogs have short fluffy hair called secondary hair. Other names for secondary hair include underfur and undercoat. The second type of hair is the longer and stiffer outer hair called primary hair. Primary hair is also referred to as guard hair, outer hair, or outer coat. They also have a third type of hair: the whisker. Whiskers are called tactile hair because they help the dog sense his surroundings.

Puppy’s skin is covered by a short, soft, and sometimes wool-like hair. Sometimes the puppy hair, or fur as it is sometimes referred to, is a similar color to what is expected as an adult. Sometimes the puppy fur is slightly lighter when first born. For instance, Dalmatian puppies are born with few or no black spots. The coat is pure white with the black spots developing as the puppy grows.

Hair facts: Each hair grows from a simple opening within the skin called a hair follicle. A puppy is born with all of the hair follicles it will ever possess. Any future differences or changes of the hair coat will be due to changes within the follicle. Each hair shaft produced by a hair follicle will eventually die and be removed (shed) and replaced by a new hair shaft produced by that hair follicle. All dogs of every breed continually shed old dead hair from the follicle and replace it with a new live and growing hair. The extent or rapidity to which an individual sheds is, however, governed by factors such as age, amount of sunlight, outside temperature, breed, sex, hormones, allergies, nutrition, etc.

Skin care tips for your pooch

It is important to take good care of your pooch’s diet and grooming needs to ensure he has a healthy skin.

The nutritional advice

  • Maintain proper amount of essential fatty acid supplementation in diet for better hair growth and lustrous coat.
  • In dermatitis dietary provision of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids can be used as skin and coat rejuvenators because of its anti-inflammatory efficacy.
  • Maintain proper balance of essential nutrients in diet, multivitamin and multi-mineral supplements can be used to rule out any dietary deficiency.

Bathing and grooming advice

  • Bathing should be done with lukewarm water.
  • Do not bath puppies under three months of age, instead sponging can be done.
  • Female dogs should not be given bath after four weeks of pregnancy.
  • Put cotton plugs in both ears to avoid entry of water while bathing.
  • After bath, skin should be dried thoroughly with the help of towels; care should be taken to drain out maximum possible water.
  • Grooming with suitable brush should be done at least once in a day.

(Dr Mandar Deshpande (Business Manager) & Dr Vishal Surve (Product Manager), Companion Animal Products, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd).

Dog Health Problems – Common Health Problems of Dog

Your dog may live a long and healthy life, and never experience any health problems. However, it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with the more common canine health concerns so that if he should develop a problem, you will know what to do. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common complaints your dog may face, and what you can do about them.

Allergies: Dogs can be allergic to a variety of things including grass, flea bites and, less commonly, food. Allergies in dogs usually cause skin problems – although food allergies can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. If you see your dog scratching, licking, and biting himself, take him to your vet to diagnose the problem. Your vet can recommend treatment products and procedures, and you may also need to keep your dog away from allergy-causing substances.

Diarrhoea: There are two types of diarrhoea that dogs experience: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhoea strikes suddenly and doesn’t last long. It is often caused by food allergies, infection, or if your dog eats food from the garbage can. Acute diarrhoea can be managed without too much trouble. However, with diarrhoea, there is always a risk of dehydration, so you will have to ensure that your dog takes in enough water, even if he’s not eating. A day of fasting, followed by a special, bland diet should restore his health. Call your vet if the diarrhoea continues, or if your dog has a fever, abdominal pain, starts vomiting or seems depressed.

Chronic diarrhoea is a longer-term problem that is often caused by an illness such as Colitis or pancreatic problems. Your vet will need to diagnose the problem and direct the treatment.

Ear problems: Ear mites are parasites that live in the ear canals of dogs and they can cause a bacterial infection or inflammation. If your dog has ear mites, he may excessively shake or tilt his head. Your vet can easily diagnose ear mites – they leave behind a distinctive brown discharge – and prescribe anti-mite eardrops. You will have to administer the drops at home for four-to-six weeks. It takes some persistence to get rid of these parasites.

Ear infections are also common in dogs, especially dogs with floppy ears. If your dog has an ear infection, he may scratch his ears or shake his head. Treatment consists of a visit to your vet, who will clean out his ears with a special solution, and may prescribe antibiotics.

Fleas: Fleas can cause a range of health problems in both dogs and humans. They are difficult to spot and are usually diagnosed by the presence of flea dirt – black flakes or specks. Your dog may scratch and bite himself if he has fleas. However, even if he doesn’t scratch, the presence of fleas should still be of concern. To rid your dog of fleas, treatment will consist of a flea control program that includes treating his environment -your vet can recommend the appropriate flea control program.

Obesity: Excess weight creates a high risk for medical problems and can shorten a dog’s life. Obesity is probably the most common nutritional disease among adult dogs. It is estimated that 40% are overweight. A quick way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel his ribs with the flat of your hand. If you can only feel the ribs with difficulty, your dog probably needs to lose weight.

Occasionally, underlying dog health problems can make a dog overweight. But overfeeding and under exercising are much more common causes of excess weight. If your dog is overweight, take him to the vet to rule out any medical problems. Your vet will set a target weight for your dog and select a proper diet. You will also need to give your dog regular exercise.

Worms: They are a common problem for dogs health and must be controlled for his safety and yours. The most common worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Although they may not seem to cause your dog problems, worms can stress his immune system, cause diarrhoea and vomiting, and, in rare cases, spread to people. A preventive program of regular worming should be a part of your dog’s health routine.

The good news is that there are more ways than ever to eliminate worms and other internal parasites, and your vet is your best resource for treatment. A thorough worming program includes flea control because fleas may carry tapeworm eggs. Some heartworm medications also prevent intestinal parasites.

The road to health Don’t be overwhelmed by all of this information on common health concerns in dogs. Your dog may never experience any of these conditions – and he certainly won’t experience them all at once. However, if you are prepared, you will be better able to give your dog the care and attention he will need. After all, he deserves your help in achieving the best health possible because of all the warmth and companionship he brings to your life. And if your dog is healthier and happier, both of you will have more time together – and that makes it all worthwhile!

Is salt really bad for dogs?

It is assumed that salt products are bad for dogs, causing problems such as high blood pressure or kidney failure or even skin diseases and hair fall. But, is salt really bad for dogs?

Diet for the moms-to-be and new moms

Diet during pregnancy…

The average duration of pregnancy in the she-dog is 63 days, but her energy requirements do not increase appreciably until the last third of gestation when most foetal weight gain occurs. It is important, therefore, to avoid overfeeding in early pregnancy, since this will lead to the deposition of unwanted fat and may predispose her to problems at whelping. A gradual increase in food allowance over the second half of gestation is all that is required and a satisfactory regimen would be to increase the amount of food by 15 percent of the dog’s maintenance ration each week from the fifth week onwards. At the time of whelping, she will be eating 60 percent more than when she was mated.

Caring for the pearly whites

Just like people, dogs need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. But the fact is, probably the number one health problem for dogs, apart from being overweight, is periodontal disease. Regular veterinary dental cleaning along with specially designed pet toothbrushes and toothpaste and chew snacks designed to eliminate plaque, can help reduce build-up.

Unquestionable benefits of neutering

Changes in sexual behaviour – About twice a year, when females come on heat, males and females are strongly attracted to each other and show great ingenuity in finding ways to get together and mate. This behaviour is highly likely to lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Figures also show increased risks of straying and car traffic accidents at this time. Neutering a female dog stops her having seasons and so rules out the risk of her having a litter. Remember that some can have over 10 puppies! As for castrated males, they will no longer be attracted by surrounding on-heat females and will tend to display less territorial urine marking.

Common signs of aging

Your eight-year-old Toy Poodle is still hyper, fit, and happy, while your six-year-old St. Bernard is beginning to lag. Why? A dog’s breed and many other lifestyle factors affect whether or not your dog is actually a senior.

There are common signs of aging to look for, to determine whether your dog is a senior:

Moving more slowly: Like humans, dogs can develop orthopaedic problems, like arthritis, that are more common in older pets. If your dog is taking longer to get up or has problems with stairs, take him to the vet to determine the cause and talk about medications that can make him more comfortable.

Your dog is thinner or fatter: A dog’s metabolism will naturally slow down as he ages, and he may be exercising less now. Dental problems can cause weight loss if it’s painful for your dog to eat. In either case, see your vet to rule out serious problems and to find out how to adjust his diet and exercise schedule to something more age-appropriate.

Obesity in the Dog

What is obesity?

Obesity is an excessive accumulation of fat at the adipose storage areas of the body leading to increased body weight above the optimal physiological weight. Dogs weighing 15-20% or more than his optimal physiological weight are overweight; over 30% they are obese. Unfortunately, one dog in four is overweight and obesity is a rapidly growing phenomenon.

We have to be particularly careful with neutered dogs whose energetic need reduce by 30% as soon as the day after the surgery. We also need to be careful with very sedentary dogs and with some breeds known for their tendency to put on weight, like the Labrador Retriever for instance.

Taking Care of your Dog’s Ears..

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

Ear mites

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

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

dog training

An holistic approach to health and welfare of dogs

An holistic approach is to look at the underlying cause of a behaviour or training problem by looking at the whole-istic health issues of the dog, physically and mentally. Here are a few factors that affect the dog on a daily basis.


Well-balanced diet: a must

The canine therapist should have a recognised qualification in canine or animal nutrition when looking at aSam holistic approach to treating dogs. A good, healthy, well-balanced diet is part of the holistic approach to effectively treating dogs or any animals. In many cases, changing a poor diet to the correct diet for a particular dog’s needs makes a significant improvement to the dog’s behaviour.

It may be necessary to have a hair mineral or blood analysis done to determine the state of health and whether there are any mineral excesses or deficiencies. Finding the correct diet for a particular dog can only be achieved with the guidance and help of a veterinarian or animal nutritionist.

Determine his health condition

The health state of your dog should be checked yearly by a veterinarian. Many health conditions are not easily observed outwardly and dogs are excellent at hiding pain. If at all possible, take a urine sample to your veterinarian. A urine sample can give the veterinarian a lot of information.

Your veterinarian will most likely check the dog’s whole body, feeling for any underlying or potential problems, such as lumps or bumps, hot or cold spots, condition of nails, eyes, ears and anal glands. The vet will observe how the dog moves, muscle condition, bones and if you have fasted your dog this day, may take a blood sample to check the internal state of health and stress levels.

The dog’s state of health is extremely important and affects how a dog behaves. This health check should be done before getting a veterinary referral to see a canine therapist or behaviourist.

Bodywork to heal

Another important part of the holistic approach to the dog is bodywork. Bodywork can make a significant difference to the dog’s health and welfare in restoring balance to the body and aiding healing.

There are many types of bodywork that can help your dog such as the Bowen technique, T-touch, acupressure, acupuncture, hydrotherapy and many other therapies all helping to restore the dog’s balance. Personally I have found the Bowen technique to be the most effective treatment on my own dogs and myself. We should always have a treatment ourselves first, before having any treatment done on our dogs.

If the treatment is uncomfortable for us, then perhaps it is not the right treatment for your dog either. Care is required in choosing the right bodywork for your dog. Many body therapies need a veterinary referral, so check this before having any treatment done. The therapist should have an understanding of dog body language in order to help your dog feel more comfortable and to know when the dog has had enough treatment.

Relationships mean the world to them

Nicole Mackie

Dogs have the same need for love, touch, understanding, time and communication as we do. If these basic needs are not met, then our relationship with others suffers and we feel empty, lonely and needy. Studies have shown that children lacking these basic needs in life do not live long and are susceptible to diseases. Why should we think our dog’s needs are any less than our own?

When we are meeting our dogs’ needs on a holistic level, that is providing all basic needs, emotionally and physically, our dogs can develop a good trusting relationship with us and vice versa.

Being left alone all day is difficult for dogs as they are pack animals and very gregarious. They need company, they need relationships and they need to be with us. Too many dogs are left alone all day while owners go out to work for long hours. This can create many behaviour problems. Would we leave a small child alone at home with no caretaker? I don’t think so. Why should we think we can do this to a dog? In the wild, dogs are not alone, they are always near the pack – the pack works as a team created with a well-developed communication system. They do not separate for eight hours of the day and return in the evening.

Unfortunately when living with humans, dogs have had to adjust to our way of life with little adjustment from the human side to meet our dog’s needs. If we do need to work and leave a dog alone, it may be worth considering a dog sitter for at least a few hours a day. Someone who has enough dog knowledge to care for the dog’s needs and who knows how to keep the dog calm and relaxed, who can sit with the dog while reading a book, give the dog a short walk, and generally be a friend to the dog for a few hours.

Communication – understand their body language

Dogs have been created by God with an amazing communication system. They communicate with their whole body, also known as calming signals. When dogs are unhappy, worried about something or afraid, they will tray to communicate this with us or other animals by using this communication system of body language we call calming signals. Just to list a few of these calming signals:

  • lip licking
  • head turning
  • turning body round
  • lying down
  • sitting
  • blinking eyes
  • paw lifting
  • tail wagging
  • tail held high
  • hackles up
  • ears back
  • panting slowly
  • fast panting (when the dog is not particularly hot)
  • yawning
  • barking
  • going between people or other animals
  • stiff body
  • quick short stepping

There are many more signals known and possibly many yet to be discovered but these are a few to watch for and if you see your dog doing any of these calming signals, it may be best to help him/her out by taking him/her out of the situation or doing whatever you can to make the dog more comfortable.

(Nicole Mackie has over 14 years of experience in handling, exhibiting, training, observing, studying and sharing her life with dogs, gaining many qualifications, such as canine behaviour, canine psychology, general animal science and experience veterinary nursing. She is a radio speaker and writer for magazines, works with behavioural problems in dogs and runs socialising groups for dogs with social problems).


Guide to health, nutition and feeding…

Traditional concept of nutrition, i.e. developing, sustaining and providing energy to the body, now has a preventive and, in certain conditions, a curative dimension. This new dimension marks the birth of health/nutrition. Read more about the objectives of Nutrition and the Commandments for feeding your pooch, just the right way.
Nutrition aids in body development and maintenance, provides energy, contributes in prevention (renal infections or digestive disorders), helps in curing (certain nutrients added to food, support the therapeutic or convalescence process).

Foodie facts…

  • It is estimated that the life expectancy of dogs, for instance, has increased by three years in the last fifteen years.
  • Scientists and the major pet food manufacturers now acknowledge that dogs should be fed differently depending on whether they are puppies, full-grown or old, and on whether their size is small, medium, large or giant!
  • The size and shape of a carnivore’s organs are very different from ours. Even nearly 10,000 years of domestication have not changed these carnivores (our pooches) into omnivores!
  • Making a balanced food is like making a complex jigsaw including about 50 pieces, each piece containing a nutrient indispensable to the animal, all the ingredients being formulated in adequate proportions and complementing one another to contribute to a small or larger piece of the jigsaw.Cheap foods only contain 15 nutrients.