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Ask the Expert / July-Aug 2010

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been aask the expert 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 Labrador is 13 years old. He is developing weakness in his hind legs and he has to make an effort to stand up. Our vet suggested a medicine named ‘Care 0 Pet’ by Cipla. We are giving this tablet every day alongwith Condro and Neuribion forte. Is there any thing else we can do? What is the normal life span for a Labrador? Please advise. – PKSengupta, Noida

Dr KG Umesh: Weakness in hind legs of aged pet may result from dysfunction of the nervous system, neuromuscular system, metabolic, cardiovascular or joint problems. Therefore, the cause of such weakness can either be such primary disorder or can result from dysfunction of a number of other systems that result in impaired neuromuscular function. Some common causes include spinal/backbone problems (particularly disk), heart problems, anemia and arthritis. A reasonable work-up for the weakness is required with selected tests to identify underlying cause, considering pet’s age, breed and concurrent clinical signs. This will help your vet to provide appropriate treatment plan based on cause. Physiotherapy and supportive treatment may benefit until cause is identified or when no underlying problem can be identified. The average life span of Labradors in India may range from 10-16 years depending on level of care.

Q: Please advise the care to be taken of my three months old Lhasa Apso pup, also can I feed him curd and fruits? What tonics are supposed to be given for growth and better coat? He has been given rabies vaccination – can I give booster dose after 21 days? – Dinesh Koti, Nellore

Dr KG Umesh: Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life (Pedigree puppy) and foods which deliver additional health benefits (Pedigree small breed puppy). Just curd or fruits is not adequate for a growing puppy. Please remember that it is not possible to feed your dog a consistent and adequate home-prepared diet without considerable time, effort, and expertise. There is no need to feed any tonics/calcium or home diet while he is feeding on a balanced food like Pedigree, except clean fresh water. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. It is recommended to have booster doses for all vaccinations including rabies.

Q: My eight-year-old cross-breed has become very aggressive. He sometimes bites our family members in anger. What can be the reason behind this? – Rai Saxsena

Dr KG Umesh: The two most common manifestations of aggressive behaviour towards humans are fear biting and dominance-related aggression. Fear biting is most commonly seen in a dog raised without appropriate human contact during the socialization period of growth. Biting is a canine dominance behaviour and is surprisingly, a form of communication to establish standing within the pack. So, if the pack leader (your dog) decides that a member of the pack (you or a family member) is getting out of line, he may bite that person to show them ‘who’s boss.’ Good training plays a crucial role to ensure a happy and successful relationship between you and your dog (reward good behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour), that means everyone being diligent in enforcing basic commands to show your dog who the real leaders of the household are. Some examples – If your dog barks, growls, or ignores you, try to shift his attention to an exercise or a task he knows well. If this doesn’t help, walk away from the dog. While instinct is a powerful determinant, dogs also take cues from an owner’s personalityfriendly, secure dogs, for instance, often have calm owners, while dogs who are easily frightened might have anxious owners.

Q: I have a two-year-old GSD named Bebble. She is falling sick frequently, is not eating food and is losing weight. Please advise. – Anthony Fernandes

Dr KG Umesh: Any chronic or recurring illness requires some basic investigations to find the underlying cause. Please take her to your vet for complete examination and the vet may recommend required lab tests (it may include stool examination, radiograph, tests for liver and pancreas function, etc)

Q: I have a male three-month-old Golden Retriever. He urinates more than 20-30 times, sometimes white in colour and sometimes yellow. He does poop four times or more and its colour is blackish brown. Is his urination normal, do dogs urinate at one place only or move about and urinate at different locations. – Aroonita Ghosh, Ko/kata

Dr KG Umesh: Puppies are not capable of controlling urination or defecation until eight weeks of age. A young puppy needs to urinate and defecate frequently as he has a very small bladder and bowel. Housetraining a new puppy usually takes 2 to 4 weeks and is accomplished through confinement, a regular schedule of feeding and elimination breaks, and a great deal of praise but no punishment. It is your responsibility to ensure that you take your puppy to the chosen toilet area as frequently as he needs to go, generally as soon as he wakes up, after every meal and at hourly intervals. Whilst he is learning, it is essential that you wait with him, so that you can praise him at the correct time. Young puppies will inevitably have ‘accidents’. It is important to ignore these, and to clean up well so that the smell does not linger, as this may encourage him to repeat the performance on the same spot. It is also possible to train your puppy to urinate and defecate on command.

Q: I have a male Lhasa Apso. Pleaseadvice whether a Boxer/Spitz will be a suitable breed with the Apso or do you suggest any other breed so as to avoid clash. Is neutering necessaryfor keeping two male dogs? – Aiay Kumar Khanduri, New De/hi

Dr KG Umesh: Whatever your reasons you decided to add another dog to the family, just be aware that bringing in a new dog (breed or size does not matter) is a huge change for an older dog – and unless you go about it the right way, it could create a lot of stress. 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. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily until you’re comfortable that the two will get along or have mutual understanding of their position/rank in the family. It’s not a good idea to leave your puppy alone with your older dog. There should always be someone there to supervise. Be sure to give old dog lots of individual attention so he’ll know that he still holds a special place in your heart and hasn’t been ‘replaced’. Neutering may help to minimise some behavioural issues like aggression, etc.

Just fur fun l July-Aug 2009

All About My Buddies:
My Name is: Surajit Modak
My Buddies’ Names are: Xena and Tommy
My Buddies’ Breeds are: Labrador Retriever & Spaniel
My Buddies’ Ages are: One and two years old
My Buddies are : Female (Both are sensational girls)
My Buddies’ Favourite Treats :Chicken and mutton
My Buddies’ First Love :For Xena, it is her red Doggy Saucer and for Tommy, it’s my wife Baisakhi
Celebrities my Buddies Resemble the Most : Xena resembles Bruce Lee while  Tommy resembles Johny Lever
Character Certificate to My Buddies will Say : For Xena—A daredevil who loves to play and have an association with all and for Tommy—Listens instructions and keeps constant watch for outsiders entering the house.
Songs to Dedicate to My Buddies :For Xena — Aa Dekhe Zara, Kisme Kinta Hain Dum and for
Tommy — Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna
BUDDies and ME: (Few of our favourite things)
List of Activities We Like Doing the Most : Playing everywhere, running and visiting places together.
What We Indulge Doing on Sundays: Playing, dancing on disco songs and having lunch and dinner together.
What is the Best Trick I Have Taught Them : Giving a welcome reception when somebody enters our home.

“Paw-Tales” l July-Aug 2004

Taking me by storm Storm Front Batra, a German shepherd puppy,  came to us at a time when I was not ready to look at the possibility of another four-legged friend, having just recently lost our beloved four years Dobermann Nero to kidney failure. My husband suggested we go to our friend’s pet shop to “play with the puppies” to cheer ourselves up. That decision was  to enrich our lives forever…
At the pet shop, it was the dark uncontrollable German shepherd pup who  caught  my  attention  and  heart and  I thought of him  that night and the next night and the night after. My amused husband lovingly christened him Storm Front Batra on day three. Storm was two months old and he came to us exactly three days after Nero’s death.
Used to greeting me with a gigantic jump each time I got back home, all this had to be changed once I got pregnant. On the first day back from the doctor, I took his two paws in my hand and explained to him how “ mummy had a baby in her stomach” and his jumping could hurt it.  It was like we had made a connection that afternoon, till date Storm has never greeted me with a jump again. A loving wag, a kitty brush and wet slurps, yes, but never a jump again!
In the past four years, Storm has been the center of our universe, the universe shifting slightly  after the birth of our first child but once again firmly in place today.
Storm  – the love of our lives is totally intimidated by our two and a half year old daughter. Scared by her fidgetiness and her whisker pulling, he steers clear of her path, clearly terrified of her hands, he charges to me for total protection.
As I write, Storm is trying to nudge a biscuit off Ameera, not managing to get a bite in without dropping his ball which is tightly secured in his mouth, aaah life is back to normal.
And I, his Mama, bask in this glory.
–Aparna Batra

“Paw-Tales” l July-Aug 2004

Pati, Patni or voh!
I am not the usual dog lover. I never had a pet, not even the occasional low maintenance gold fish or parrot. My disdain for dogs is probably hereditary. As a child, my mother was attacked by a pack of stray dogs and the fear of dogs has been transmitted to me through her genes.
The twist in the story is that I am now married to a family of dog lovers. For the last seven years before my marriage I had been the single child, my only elder sibling had moved out.  From being the focus of attention of the family, I found myself in a situation where I was competing with OSCAR. Oscar is a Golden Retriever, aged 3 years and the blue-eyed boy of the family.
Before we got married, Oscar and my husband were roommates, or rather bedmates. Hubby used to wake up with Oscar, silently waiting for him to flutter his eyelids. Sometimes, he would wake up with Oscar lapping his face. All that has changed now.  I am sure my husband misses the male bonding that he once shared with Oscar but he never dares to admit it.
Oscar now sleeps with my in-laws. Initially, my mother-in-law i.e. Oscar’s mother would bang on our door to wake up hubby for Oscar’s morning walk. However, that was met with strong opposition from me. Getting up at 6.00 am in the morning is absolutely criminal.
But, this is not the end of it. Though we have been married for barely six months, husband has a picture of Oscar as a screensaver on his mobile. And you know what his explanation is, “You’re my bibi and Oscar my baby”. Husband cootchie cooes to Oscar and me using the same sweet nothings. I wonder if Oscar has ever noticed this! Even if he has, thank God, he is not complaining.  I sometimes wonder if dogs also feel jealous like women.
But, things are gradually changing. Oscar and I are now getting to know each other. I allow him into our room but he can only put his front paws on our bed. Maybe, it is only a matter of time that he would find his way back into our bed and into my heart too.
–Sadhvi Narang Mathur