Ask the expert… l Nov-Dec-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: My Labrador when left for 6-7 hours becomes very sad. Do let me know how to keep him happy when I am not there.
–Rashi, Jalandhar
Dr KG Umesh: Dogs are one of the most social creatures on earth. So when it comes time for you to go to work or leave the house for long periods of time, it can make your dog lonely or anxious. Do you have a set routine each day before you leave the house? Perhaps you jingle your keys or put your bag near the door. Your dog picks up on these cues, and associates them with your leaving. Try to mix up your normal routine by doing your usual activities in a different order. Practice leaving–Plan short trips that allow your dog to gradually adjust to being alone. If your dog seems comfortable after half-hour departures, and exhibits no anxious behaviour, increase your time away. Go for a walk or keep your dog busy. Before you leave, bury toys and hide treats where he can find and “dig” them up. Keeping a TV or radio on can also provide “company” for your pooch. Getting another pet is also not a bad idea.
Q: My ten-month-old pet Bond is an Indian breed called ‘Chippiparai.’ He bites his skin due to itching and also has had huge hair loss. Please advice.
–Sabari Krishna, Trichy
Dr KG Umesh: Dog’s skin is thinner than our skin and is highly susceptible to diseases. Itching and hair loss can be result of many disorders causing inflammation including parasites, allergies or dry skin. Skin and hair coat alone takes away approximately 30 percent of protein from the diet for its health. Hence balanced and complete nutrition is most important for healthy skin and hair coat. Evening Primrose oil capsules or sunflower oil/Saffola oil/corn oil and zinc capsules everyday in the food may also help him to improve his hair coat in the short term when no underlying cause identified.
Q: I am planning to buy a Lhasa Apso puppy. I want to know how to make him comfortable on the first day in my home. Also please guide on his care.
–Sreeya, Hyderabad
Dr KG Umesh: Changing homes and leaving his mother is stressful for a puppy. It could cause an upset stomach. Once your puppy has settled in, you’ll likely want to change his diet to puppy food. Make sure you replace the original food with the new puppy food gradually, over a period of three to five days. Make sure that he has a comfortable bed which is placed away from draughty areas. You may find that placing a covered warm water bottle in the bed will help him as this will feel like snuggling up to his mom. If he has not been away from his mom for long (and if possible), then you could take a blanket or towel to his mom’s house and ask the pet owners if they will put it in his bed for a couple of days before collecting it again. The smell of his mom on the blanket would then be a comfort for him. You could also try putting a soft toy in his bed at night time, again so that he has something to snuggle up to (ensure that the puppy cannot destroy or eat the toy). Your puppy may be feeling separation anxiety from you as well as from his mom.
Leaving a radio on playing quietly overnight or a soft light on may also make him feel more settled. You could try putting a jumper or something else that smells of you in his bed too. There are other reasons why he may be restless. Is he fully toilet trained yet? Is he perhaps crying because he wants to go to the loo? Is he hungry? Ideally, take him out on the lead as often as possible to go to the toilet, stay with him until he goes and then praise him when he does. Make sure that he’s given the opportunity to go out last thing at night.
Q: My six-month-old Labrador is not active, but he is very playful. How do I do to make him more active?
–Parth Kyada, Rajkot
Dr KG Umesh: Dogs are social animals and need mental as well as physical stimulation to keep them active and healthy. Playing with your dog is a fun part of your relationship with him. In fact, play helps build the relationship. Most dogs love dog toys and find them really fun. You’ll be happy to see that they can hold your dog’s attention for hours. Playing usually requires two participants, but with some toys, your dog can play on his own. Your dog should play with toys made of firm, elastic materials that aren’t dangerous to him. Regularly exercising the dog will allow him to use up this excess energy, to toilet, mentally stimulate him and overall he will probably be better socialised with animals and people. It is generally better to take the dog out at least twice a day.
Q: My dog, Jag, will be two years old in January. He developed severe demodectic mange but has now recovered. He is being treated since February 2015, with Ivermectin orally daily. Jag has regular skin scrapings. Recently, I got benzoyl peroxide shampoo to bathe him. How long can it take for a cure? Is it safe to continue Ivermectin?
–Prof Kishwar Azad, Dhaka
Dr KG Umesh: Intestinal parasites or malnutrition in young dogs, some endocrine diseases, cancer or steroids use, etc are considered predisposing factors that may suppress the immune system sufficiently to trigger proliferation of the demodex mites and should be diagnosed and treated to optimise the therapeutic outcome. Secondary bacterial skin infections frequently complicate the disease and require topical and/or systemic antimicrobial therapy. It is recommended to continue treatment for one month after the second negative monthly set of skin scrapings.
In dogs who responded very slowly to therapy, extend treatment even further. It is recommended to monitor dogs closely for recurrence of clinical disease during the first 12 months after treatment has been discontinued. Dogs with demodectic mange should not be bred. Although, Ivermectin is not licensed for use in canine demodicosis, an evidence-based review concluded that oral Ivermectin at a dose of 0.3–0.6 mg/kg daily can be recommended as therapy in dogs which can tolerate with these dose without any adverse effects. Other optional drugs are Amitraz, Milbemycin Oxime, Moxidectin and Doramectin but unfortunately all these drugs may not be available in some countries.