Ask the Expert… l Sep-Oct-2015
Dr KG 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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.
Q: I have a six months old female French Mastiff. She is biting our family members and does not respond to her name. Please advise.
–Aniket Bedi, Delhi
Dr KG Umesh: It is normal for puppies to be ‘mouthie’. Most chewing 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. 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. There are many suitable toys for dogs and choose toys which have been manufactured using high-quality molded materials to increase durability. If the puppy does try to bite, command ‘No’ and distract his attention with a toy. Many of these habits can be modified quite easily if done correctly and persistently. When the pup stops the bad behaviour make sure you reward him with “GOOD (puppy’s name)!” Prevent access to unacceptable chew items.
Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction. Make sure that your puppy is well socialised. Socialisation is the term describing the process by which a dog learns to relate to people, other dogs and his environment. And, if your dog is socialised properly, he’ll be comfortable around strangers and in new situations. So provide your dog with a chance to socialise with people/children/pets and other things.
Q: My 12 years old local Himalayan female dog Chocolate has breathing problems over a year. Early symptoms were spasms that looked like she is choking but since last three months there is also constant wheezing, congested and runny nose very often. Her blood report revealed high number of eosinophils, what could this be? No remedy is working but she is eating and drinking well. Please advise.
–Kanwal Cheena, Shimla
Dr KG Umesh: In dogs, as in humans, respiratory signs like coughing and wheezing, indicate an infection or inflammation of the lungs or airways. Dogs can develop respiratory signs for several reasons, and wheezing is because of narrowed or constricted airways, which is usually secondary to an underlying problem. It is also important to keep in mind that many disorders other than pneumonia can produce these symptoms – examples include heart failure, tumours or systemic or allergic diseases. Your vet may advise diagnostic tests, such as radiographs of the chest, ECG, blood tests and urinalysis to help him to identify underlying disease.
Q: My seven-year-old dog Bhulo has severe tick and flea infestation. Could you please suggest a safe method for removing these pests?
–Aheli Sarkar, Kolkata
Dr KG Umesh: A generalised tick/flea life cycle consists of egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The tick/flea feeds once in each stage before maturing to the next stage. Ticks and fleas lay their eggs in sheltered areas on or near the ground. Successful control of ticks/fleas depends on eliminating these pests from the dog and the environment. To control ticks or fleas on a dog, all animals in the household must be part of the flea/ticks control programme. There are two basic categories of ticks/fleas control products: Adulticides and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)/Insect Development Inhibitors (IDIs).
It is always best to treat the dog and the environment on the same day. The use of these insecticides must be preceded by a thorough vacuuming; special attention should be paid to the areas under furniture, carpets, near pet bedding, and along moldings. Make sure that other pets/dogs he frequently contacts/visits are free from fleas and ticks. The veterinarian will choose a product or products that combine safety, efficacy, and ease of use for the client. Often a combination of adulticide and an IGR or IDI is used.
Q: I have a six months old German Shepherd, with double coat. Suggest a nutritious diet for the proper growth of his body and good fur.
–Akhil Mahalker, Goa
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, long, and healthy life. Therefore, accurate feeding and the provision of all nutrients at optimal level is essential to maximise puppy’s genetic potential to grow. There are many commercial pet foods for puppy as well as ‘large breed puppy’ in particular available from reputed manufacturers. Large breeds have longer growth period than small breeds and therefore continue feeding puppy food until 16-18 months of age. Most of reputed puppy food contains nutrients required for fur health that includes high quality proteins, omega fatty acids, zinc as well as vitamins.
Q: My dog was in pet care for few days, where he got skin infection due to which he is shedding a lot of fur. Now an odour is coming. Please advise.
Dr KG Umesh: Hair loss/shedding is a common complaint with skin disorders and results from a number of causes. Bad odour can come from yeast infection secondary to parasites or allergies, etc. Dogs may shed excessive hair because of stress, worms, harsh climate and general illness. Therefore, my approach would be to find underlying cause(s) (like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection, etc) and then your vet will be able to recommend suitable medications that will eliminate the cause and therefore hair fall. Balanced and complete nutrition is most important for healthy skin and hair coat. Feed him balanced pet food that contains nutrients like omega fatty acids, zinc and vitamins required for skin and hair coat.