Ask the expert… | Sep -Oct 12
Q: My German Shepherd who is five years old seems to be passing gas/fart, as sometimes there is a stinky stench around him. He is on home cooked food. Do advice what do I do.
– Kishore Jain, Haldwani
Dr KG Umesh: Most of the gas that forms in the intestine comes from air swallowed during eating or through panting. Some gases are formed from bacterial fermentation of poorly digested carbohydrate or fiber in the colon. Also, malodorous gas may be generated by metabolic disturbances in the breakdown of food components. While it’s a natural part of your dog’s digestive process, the tendency to pass gas increases as your dog ages. German Shepherds are also prone to develop digestive disturbances because of their sensitive stomach. There are a number of ways you can help decrease your dog’s intestinal gas. Check your dog food ingredients like soy or poor carbohydrates which can be hard to digest. Feed reputed commercial dry food which are digestible and meet all his nutritional requirements. Cut out table scraps. Exercise not only helps move intestinal gas, it may also simulate bowel movements. Raise your dog’s food dish. Elevating your dog’s dish means he’s not bending his neck down as far, which can lead to swallowing too much air. Therapy is directed toward reducing the carbohydrate content of the diet, reducing gas surface-active tension, reducing intestinal bacterial colonisation, and improving gut motility. The combination of Yucca schidigera, Zinc acetate or charcoal may help to reduce malodor of flatus in dogs as shown in a study at Waltham. Ask your vet for help.
Q: We have two Labradors – four and seven years old. How can I crate train them for a flight?
– Shivani Puri, Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: Before making your booking, make sure the airline does not have any restrictions that will inhibit you from traveling with your pets. Make sure you visit a vet before traveling and make sure your pets are as fit and healthy as possible to withstand the journey. Give them a light meal about two hours before they travel. Let your pets ‘try out’ the carrying container before the trip. Give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet before putting them in their carrying container. If the pets look very anxious/nervous, your vet may advise mild sedatives/travel sickness pills that help them to settle comfortably during travel. The carrying container (Transport Crate) should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for the animals to move around, safe and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily refillable containers for a long journey. It is advisable to have a leak proof bottom in the crate that is covered with plenty of absorbent material. Put a familiar-smelling cushion or rug in the container to help your pets settle.
Q: Symphony, my three-year-old Dachshund, is shedding a lot. I see some hair loss around his eyes and snout. There are two patches on his body too. Please help.
– David, Kalimpong
Dr KG Umesh: Dogs have unique hair growth cycle and seasonal hair shedding. Photoperiod (light intensity) is main factor besides nutrition, genetics or health that can cause dog to shed hair excessively during some seasons and is physiological/normal. Dogs may also shed excessive hair because of stress, harsh climate and general illness. If the degree of shedding appears abnormal or associated with rashes, itching or any signs of serious skin problems or fleas, consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions such as thyroid disease or skin allergies can cause excessive shedding. Some tips to prevent or reduce hair shedding include daily brushing or at least two good brushings per week, regular bathing with a rich oatmeal or moisturising shampoo (do not use human shampoo or soap) and feeding a high quality diet: a diet that is rich in fatty acids, minerals like zinc and digestible proteins to keep your dog’s coat strong and healthy, and help decrease excessive shedding.
Q: The saliva of my dog seems a little thick and has some traces of red. She is salivating more. We feed her dog food- but now she has become fussy and likes only soft food- we are making rice and dal with chicken broth (with no bones). Please help.
– Swati Mahesh, Chennai
Dr KG Umesh: Your pet may be suffering from oral disease involving gums/teeth or inflammation in mouth. But the fact is, 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. The accumulation of tartar and plaque and the resulting gingivitis can lead to more serious disease. Tartar accumulates, and eventually the healthy pink gum starts to look red, and swell (Gingitivitis). This may cause pain while chewing solid food. First take her to your vet for examination of her mouth to rule out any other problems and he may suggest dental scaling if she has bad tartar/plaque. Following this, you can lightly brush the 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 tooth pastes 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) help in reducing tartar accumulation, gingivitis and malodour. Dry dog food may also help prevent dental plaque accumulation.
Q: My nine months old Labrador loves to eat and tries to gobble a lot of things- which are non food items. While walking him I have noticed certain small objects, such as a toothpaste cap in his stool. How do we deal with this habit of his?
– Anubhav Chandra, Jaipur
Dr KG Umesh: It is normal for puppies to be ‘mouthie’. Most of such behaviour is seen in young puppies due to their strong desire to explore. As dogs mature, this desire decreases and they are less likely to be destructive. This type of behaviour may start after a change in the dog’s routine or as a result of boredom. The dog will find it hard to distinguish between what it can and cannot chew, therefore having their own toys will help define suitable chewing items. Provide chew toys that do not resemble in appearance or texture of unacceptable chew items. For example, a plush toy may be similar to a pillow, child’s stuffed animal or chair cushion. Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction. Prevent access to unacceptable chew items. Reward your dog with praise for chewing on appropriate items. A well-trained dog makes everyone happy, including his pet parent.