Ask the expert… | Nov Dec 13


Q: Goofi, my Lab pup, who is now 45 days old, was born without a tail. Can you advice why this happened?
–Vidhu Singh, Mhow (Indore)

Dr KG Umesh: What about his siblings? Collect his family history if available. It is likely to be a congenital or inherited problem. Check with your vet for presence of any physical or skeletal abnormality.

Q: The ears of my five-month-old GSD are not standing. Her sister who is the same age does not have this problem. Also, my Pug is suffering from a runny nose. Please do help.
–Nishi, Lucknow

Dr KG Umesh: If there are no signs of ear infection, this can be considered ‘normal’ and many a time they become erect as ear cartilage becomes tough. Wait and watch until he grows to an adult (14-16 months of age).
Running nose, like fever, is merely a symptom of a disease. Dogs can have nasal discharge for a variety of reasons including irritation from allergies, change in climate, inhaled gases and foreign bodies. Discharge can also result from inflammation of the upper or lower airways. Fever and purulent discharge is common with some infections like distemper or pneumonia. Likewise, if discharge develops in one nostril, you should also consider growths or tumours as one of the causes. The best way to rule out all these diseases and to have specific treatment is get him examined as early as possible. Your vet is the right person to decide what test to be done immediately. Your vet might prescribe few medicines to suppress discharge symptomatically till all the investigations are complete.

Q: I want to keep a small breed as I have two kids aged three and seven years. Do advise a breed. Also, I want to make the dog sleep in the children’s room. Is this fine?
–Manisha Sinha, Ranchi

Dr KG Umesh: You have variety of small breeds to choose for companionship. Long-haired dogs like Yorkshire Terrier or Lhasa Apso can be very attractive, but they need regular grooming to keep their coat clean and in good condition. The coats of smooth-haired dogs like Dachshund or Pug need less attention and are more manageable in wet weather. Male dogs tend to be larger than females of the same breed and may be a little more extrovert. Some people think that female dogs are more affectionate and home-loving and may be better with children, but remember they come into season twice a year as part of their reproductive cycle, unless you are prepared to have her neutered. Jack Russell Terriers, Shih Tzu and Pomeranian are also equally good companion pets. There are number of diseases that are transmitted from pets to humans by scratch, bite, contact with discharges, faecal contamination, direct contact, etc. However, most cases of human infections can be prevented by practising good personal hygiene, eliminating parasites through regular deworming, vaccination and providing clean environment for them. Follow normal hygiene precautions about keeping dogs. Wash or change bedding frequently. Dispose excreta properly. Do not allow pets to lick children’s faces. Discourage kids sharing bed with pets. Lastly, keep pet animals healthy, have any signs of illness diagnosed and treated promptly by your vet and take your pets for regular medical check-up.

Q: Bingo is a 10 months old Labrador who keeps licking the wall. Do let us know how to stop this habit.
–Gandharva, Delhi

Dr KG Umesh: Puppies investigate their environment by sniffing, tasting and perhaps chewing or licking on objects as part of normal behaviour. In some cases, chewing might be an attention seeking behaviour even if it yields negative attention or results in chasing or scolding. Anxiety, conflict or high-arousal situations may result in destruction and chewing of the pet parent’s possessions and perhaps attempts to escape by chewing windows, doors, or the area in which the dog is confined. The dog may chew to escape or roam because of inadequate exercise, stimulation or environmental enrichment. Repetitive chewing that is difficult to distract or redirect might be a compulsive disorder. Begin treatment by redirecting chewing/licking to suitable and appealing alternatives – provide sufficient play and exercise, and prevent access to areas where the dog might lick. Give the puppy a choice of chew toys to determine which ones he finds most appealing. Lastly, you can try applying the wall with bitter substance to discourage licking. Although this behaviour is unlikely to be associated with any nutritional deficiency, make sure that he is fed on a reputed commercial well-balanced puppy food.

Q: I noticed blood like particles in my dog’s urine. He is a seven years old Dalmatian. He is drinking more water and
I also noticed an increase in the frequency and volume of urine. Please help.
–Vibhor Sharma, Jallandhar

Dr KG Umesh: If your pet is drinking and urinating more than normal, it can be a diagnostic challenge because of long list of causes. Excessive drinking and urination exist concurrently, with determination as to which is the primary problem being one of the major diagnostic challenges. In addition to increased frequency of urination, if you see any additional signs like urination in inappropriate places, difficulty when urinating, discoloured urine, strong and/or foul smelling urine, lethargy and fever, it may indicate presence of urinary tract infection (UTI). Dalmatians are prone to develop urinary stones and can predispose him to develop urinary tract infection. Excessive thirst and increased frequency of urination may also be indicative of other diseases that commonly affect older dogs including kidney failure, diabetes and Cushing’s Disease.
It’s important for your vet to determine what is causing these symptoms so that your dog can be treated appropriately. Depending on examination findings, your vet may recommend blood, urine, radiograph and ultrasonography to uncover the cause. Stones in urinary tract can be managed with conventional surgical procedures or lithotripsy and can be managed with medications and diet to prevent recurrence.

(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 currently working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.)