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Ask the expert… Mar-Apr 2014

Q: I have a St Bernard pup who is five months old and refuses to go for a walk. Please advice the exercise, food and supplement needs for a St Bernard.
– Balraj, Jabalpur
Dr KG Umesh: A nutritionally balanced diet is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a dog in order to prepare him for an active, longKG umesh (3) copy and healthy life. Giant breeds like St Bernard take longer time to mature and generally become adult by age of 20-24 months. It is necessary to keep a puppy from gaining weight too quickly and becoming fat to avoid bone and joint problems. Puppies are fed 2-4 small meals per day to accommodate in their tiny stomachs. There is no need to add home food while he is feeding on a balanced pet food and clean fresh water. Overfeeding and excess calcium may result in skeletal or joint problems in the later part of the growing puppy’s life. I would suggest feeding ‘large breed puppy’ diets specifically designed for giant breeds, that are available in veterinary clinics and pet shops. In their first few months, puppies will get all the exercise they need from their naturally energetic play in the house, so you don’t need to give them any extra exercise. Limiting formal walks and training in the first 10 to 12 months of life will also help. They may need a 20 to 30 minutes jog every morning or a shorter walk combined with controlled training games. Repeat the workout later in the day.
Q: Rustam, my five-year-old Labrador, keeps wagging and knocking off objects. The tail area is swollen–the area also seems to hurt him, please help.
– Rohini Kapur, Meerut
Dr KG Umesh: Swelling in tail may result from injury, inflammation or infections of skin or bones. Get him examined by your vet before it worsens with movement of tail. You can try bandaging the swollen area to keep the tail immobile and until you take him to the vet.
Q: My 10 years old GSD is overweight, how do I reduce the weight?
– Rajat Singh, Patiala
Dr KG Umesh: Obesity is the most common canine nutritional disease in dogs. If you feed your dog a prepared pet food, the label on the package will provide a guideline as to how much to feed daily. These recommendations are a guideline only and you should make adjustments according to your dog’s individual needs. Senior dogs need approximately 20 percent less energy than adult dogs. Don’t forget to take into account the calories in treats and other tidbits he eats—they shouldn’t make up more than 10 percent of his daily calorie intake. Try to exercise your dog as much as he is able. The more muscle he maintains, the more calories he’ll burn and less fat he’ll carry. Not only that, when you fill his time with fun activities, he’ll spend less time hanging around the food bowl. This increased activity won’t just benefit your dog; it will benefit you as well. Instruct family members and visitors not to give your dog any treats or table scraps. Don’t give your dog one heaping bowl of food that he can eat whenever he wants. Instead, give him 2-4 small measured meals a day so you can regulate his portions. Start keeping a record of your dog’s weight. If possible, weigh him once a week. Keep lots of clean, fresh water available. Finally, be sure to take your dog to your veterinarian for a checkup and expert advice. Your vet may give you guidelines on exercise appropriate for your dog’s age and health as well as specific advice on how much he should be eating. He can also check for, and treat, any weight-related problems.
Q: Chulbul is a two years old Lhasa who has dark tear stains. We clean his eyes with cotton – but the stains don’t go. Do advice if we can apply eye drops and how do we clean the tear stains?
– K Malik, Nasik
Dr KG Umesh: Chronic tearing (causing streak and staining of hairs) in dogs is often the result of breed related conformational abnormalities. Shallow orbits and prominent globes with tight-fitting lids and small lacrimal lakes, inflammation of lacrimal apparatus, obstruction of nasolacrimal duct (drain tears to nostrils), any irritation or pain due to eye or eyelid diseases can cause an overflow of tears from the conjunctival sac. Conditions that lead to excessive lacrimation should be ruled out before congenital or acquired dysfunction of the lacrimal drainage system is diagnosed. Your vet runs tests to evaluate nasolacrimal drainage system patency. Determination of the cause is essential before treatment can be instituted and requires a mechanistic approach at first. Treatment is aimed at correcting the primary problem such as lubricant therapy for dry eye, or canthoplasty surgery for lagophthalmos and exposure, allowing more effective distribution of tears.
Q: I have two children (aged seven and ten years) and Pumkin is our seven months old Labrador who keeps jumping over them. How do I teach Pumkin not to jump on my children?
– Mrinalini, Chattarpur
Dr KG Umesh: Pumpkin has a very friendly behaviour of wanting to greet people when he sees them. The tricky part is teaching him that it is good to greet people, but not by jumping up. He may have been rewarded for jumping up as a puppy, whether this was intentional or not, he has learnt that this is an acceptable way to greet. Shouting at him after he has already jumped will just confuse him as he has already performed the action. The best method to try and stop the dog from jumping is to try and retrain him, and it is always easier to start at home. If he jumps up to greet kids when they enter the house, just ignore him and give him no attention. Wait until he has all four paws on the ground. Wait for him to sit. If he doesn’t sit, tempt him with a small treat to sit and then praise him. Crouching to greet the dog should automatically stop him from jumping as kids are at his level, but wait until he is sitting and before kids do this. Teach the children to fold their arms, stand still and shout ‘off’ whilst showing the dog no eye contact. The dog will soon get bored as the child is not interested enough. Once you have established a good routine at home, you can start introducing him to other people. Some advise squeezing the paws (until it is uncomfortable for the dog) every time he jumps. Lastly, obedience classes will also be beneficial to him, as there will be general advice for all types of training and modification.

Just Fur Fun l Mar-Apr 2014

All About My Buddy:
My Name is: Pramit Kumar Dash
My Buddy’s Name is: Prince
My Buddy’s Breed is: German Shepherd
My Buddy is: Male
My Buddy’s Colour is:Black and tar
My Buddy’s Age is:Four years
My Buddy’s Favourite Treats: Ice cream and anything made of chicken.
My Buddy’s First Love: My parents – papa & mama.
My Buddy’s Funniest Habits: He takes a ball and runs away from us and turns back to see whether anyone is after him. If somebody is approaching him, he runs like an express train and plays hide & seek with us. Further, when he hears any new sound, his head and ears are alerted like a robot for encounter.
My  Buddy’s  Character Certificate Will Say: Very playful, naughty and intelligent.
BUDDY AND ME:
(Few of our favourite things)
List of Activities We Like Doing The Most: Spending time together to play, watch TV and working.

What We Indulge on Sundays: We go for long walks, eating and sleeping.
What is the Best Trick I have Taught Him: To find out anything, catching ball, crawling and salute.

Ask the Expert / Mar-Apr 2010

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a ask the expertlecturer 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 six years old GSD is having an infection on her front leg near the elbow area. It’s a black patch and she keeps licking that area. Now, it is bleeding and little puss is coming out from that patch, we have tried many medicines and creams in consultation of vets, but it’s just not healing, can you recommend some medicines which will dry that wound? – Sanskriti, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Any wound that shows poor response to conventional therapy should undergo some basic laboratory tests like biopsy, culture or cytology to find underlying cause. Some common causes are deep pyoderma, sinus, lick granulomas which require aggressive treatment. Please consult your vet who may recommend suitable tests to find specific therapy.

Q: I am a new pet owner of a three months old Pug. Do advice what human medicines are not to be given to dogs at all? – K Pathak/ Sirsa

Dr KG Umesh: For a basic first aid kit, I would suggest having cotton balls, paracetomol syrup for fever, an antihistamine or steroid ointment in case of an insect bite, Savlon or Betadine liquid to clean out a wound, bandages to make a muzzle and to protect an injured area, balanced oral electrolyte solution to prevent dehydration from vomiting or diarrhoea, and astringent/gauze pads to help stop bleeding. All drugs are dosed in dogs generally on body weight basis and therefore any human medicine can cause serious adverse effects when used inappropriately in dogs. Common poisoning of pets from human medicines includes pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs (Brufen, Diclofenac), drugs used for hypertension, vitamin D, cardiac drugs, cough syrups and many more. Remember to always phone your veterinarian for advice before you attempt to do anything to help your pet.

Q: My dog is eight years old and her paws are cracked. Please advice. – Hema Sen/ Kolkata

Dr KG Umesh: There are several known causes of cracked footpads. You will need to take your dog to the vet so he can give your dog a thorough examination and to see what has caused the cracking of his pads. A dog’s paws exposed to irritants, floor cleaning detergents, chemicals or even cold pavement or rough road – all of which cause drying and cracking of the paw pads. Some common medical causes include allergies, chronic yeast infection, autoimmune diseases and nutritional deficiencies. Some dogs develop a condition called digital hyperkeratosis which can only be controlled with topical creams. Meanwhile, try smearing petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or moisturising creams every 4-6 hours. Wrap your pet’s paw after cleaning to prevent infection or dust collecting between cracks and old sock can sometime help. Consider using dog booties. Feed her on complete food like Pedigree to prevent any nutritional deficiency.

Q: Pepper, my eight years old Basset Hound, is having a stiff back. He seems to wince in pain when we touch him. Do advice what all is to be done to diagnose the problem. – Stephan/ Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: The backbone of dogs is made up of bones called vertebrae. These bones protect the spinal cord, which extends from the brain to your pet’s tail. A pad of tough, fibrous tissue called a disc, is located between each vertebra. These intervertebral discs function as shock absorbers and stabilizers of the spine. In chondrodystrophic breeds like yours, the disc undergoes degeneration over time but many changes are present early in life. Disc degeneration is the main cause of the back problem but trauma is also a common cause. Your vet may advice radiograph, spinal tap or even MRI or CT scan to identify cause of back problem. Some dogs respond well to rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication. However, some dogs treated with rest and medications have recurrent attacks of back problems. Your veterinarian may recommend surgery if the disease is rapid and severe, if weakness or paralysis is present, or if your pet had repeated attacks. Limiting running and jumping has been suggested to prevent occurrence, but the value of this has not been proven. Feeding balanced food and regular exercise will keep him fit and healthy. Make sure that he is not overweight or obese.

Q: My two months old male Pug frequently gets very small boils under the body on his stomach. Our vet has given him two doses of antibiotics, they go for a week and then again come back. Can you please help? – Prashin Jhobalia, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Superficial bacterial infection (pyoderma) is an extremely common presentation in the dog. In the majority of cases, it is caused by Staphylococcus intermedius. Staphylococci are carried on normal dogs at certain body sites. Superficial pyoderma can be follicular or non-follicular. The non-follicular pyoderma (bacterial impetigo) is very common condition in puppies particularly on skin of ventral abdomen/groin region. The development of recurrent pyoderma is most commonly a secondary phenomenon and predisposing factors should be investigated. Any condition that disrupts normal skin barrier function or compromises the immune system may predispose to the development of pyoderma. Some common predisposing causes of impetigo in puppies include unhygienic bedding/floors, urine scald or poor nutrition. Feed him good quality puppy food like Pedigree and keep him clean with antibacterial wash/creams for at least few weeks following complete recovery.

Just fur fun! l Mar-Apr 2009

All about my buddy
My Name is: Tanmay Kulkarni
My Buddy’s Name: Jhunnu
My Buddy’s Breed: Samyoed
My Buddy’s Age:2 Years
My Buddy is: Female
My Buddy’s favourite treats: Everything that’s Delicious
My Buddy’s first love: All yummy food items
Celebrity my Buddy resembles the most: Tuntun (Uma Devi)
Your character certificate to Buddy will say: A combination of beauty and wisdom
A song you would like to dedicate for your buddy: Mukhda chand ka tukda

BUDDY and ME: (Few of our favourite things)
List of activity we like doing the most: Playing and eating

What both of us indulge doing on most Sundays: Playing together

What is the best trick I have taught her: come here seat down and shake hand

Ask the Expert / Mar-Apr 2008

Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He has been a lecturer in clinical medicine at Vet College in Bangalore for 15 years, and has won the ‘best teacher’ award in the year 2000. He is a member of European Society for Vet Dermatology and is presently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for south Asia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. K. G. Umesh: Just like people, dogs need to have their teeth brushed and cleaned. Owners can lightly brush their dog’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque deposits. A child’s nylon toothbrush dipped in toothpaste made for dogs should be used. Do not use toothpastes made for humans, which can cause nausea in dogs if swallowed. An alternative to brushing is using a dental chew. The chew suitable for pets must be tested for safety and benefits. Studies by Waltham have shown that certain specifically designed dental health chews result in a significant reduction of plaque and calculus accumulation, gum inflammation and malodor. Consult your vet who will be able to recommend specially designed dog chews and biscuits available in the market. Dry dog food may also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.