Ask the Expert / Nov-Dec 2010


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: We have adopted a two and a half years old male Black Lab who was abandoned. He has some skin patches which are now recovering and the hair is coming back. But I am worried about his health. What food should we give him, also does he require supplements? – Bijal Gehlot, Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: Just like us, adult dogs need a balanced diet which contains the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, many different vitamins and minerals to ensure that they stay in peak condition and maintain optimal health. The nutritional profile of any diet-including homemade diets-depends on how the recipe was formulated, the nutrient content of the ingredients, and how you prepare the diet. Unless properly formulated by a nutritionist or a vet, diets made at home are not likely to be nutritionally complete and balanced (deficient, excessive or unbalanced in essential nutrients). Prepared pet foods from reputable pet food manufacturers like Pedigree come with a guarantee of nutritional adequacy, quality and safety. They also contain adequate level of zinc and fats to keep skin and hair coat healthy. There is no need to feed any supplements like calcium or vitamins while he is feeding on balanced food like pedigree except clean fresh water. Therefore continue feeding only recommended quantity of the prepared petfood.
Q: I have an eight-month-old Pug. Since last four months he has developed serious skin infection. We are continuously in touch with local vet but we are worried. Please help. -AM Pendse, Pune
Dr KG Umesh: Skin problems are common in dogs as their skin is thin and the barrier function is poor, compared to man or other animals. Growing puppies are generally susceptible to nutritional and parasitic skin diseases like demodicosis. Any dog with chronic or recurring skin disease must be subjected to investigations like skin scraping or blood tests to find the underlying cause. Proper nutrition particularly zinc, fats and vitamins can help to strengthen skin barrier function. Please consult your vet at the earliest to identify underlying cause and therefore, the specific treatment.
Q: I have a pair of Rottwielers; my male who is two years old is very friendly. How can I train him to bark at strangers? – Nishant, Bulandshahar
Dr KG Umesh: The Rottweiler is a large intimidating-looking dog with muscular and powerful body. They must be thoroughly socialized at an early age as most Rottweilers are inclined toward dominance/aggression and will test for position in the family pecking order.
What is your dog trying to communicate through his barking? He may be barking to express happiness orfear, to get attention, to warn you of an approaching stranger, or to let you know he is bored or lonely. He may also bark to let others know that they are in his territory. Only good training and socialization will mean your dog is able to tell the difference between people allowed into the house and intruders. You may need to get the help of a professional trainer. A dog with good manners will not bark unnecessarily!
Q: My German Shepherd who is 12 years old has a back problem. My vet is treating her for paralysis attack. Currently she cannot move. Any test/therapy that we should undertake? Is this situation curable? – Kamal Kant, Bhilwara
Dr KG Umesh: A reasonable work-up for paralysis is required with selected tests to identify underlying cause, considering your pet’s age and breed. Radiograph and other imaging tests like CT or MRI are used to rule out prolapsed or herniated disk, fractures, spinal injury, hip joint problems etc. This will help your vet to provide appropriate prognosis and treatment plan based on cause. Some dogs respond well to rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain medication. Your vet may consider surgery when it is appropriate and fit at this stage. Physiotherapy and supportive treatment may benefit until cause is identified or when no underlying problem can be identified.
Q: I am looking for a dog for my home, do advice a breed which will be suitable -I have a house of 200 sq yards, no kids at home, looking for a friendly breed- who is vary of strangers, shedding should be medium/minimal. Do also advice the economical expenditure considering vaccination and diet per month. – Anmol Bhatia, New Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: Small breeds with short hair coat would fit your requirements. You can choose breeds like Pug or Dachshund, Miniature Pinscher, etc which are more manageable. Manufactured pet foods not only provide complete nutrition but are also cheaper compared to home prepared diets. You have to bear Vaccination and other preventive health care cost during first three months of puppy stage and then you need to visit your vet at least twice a year for a routine health check and annual vaccinations.