Ask the Expert.. | Nov Dec 2011


Q: How can we clean the ears of our dog? I saw my dad using hydrogen peroxide once, but he stopped using it as he said it may have some side effects on dogs.
– Mridhul Jain, Ludhiana

Dr KG Umesh: Knowledge of ear canal anatomy is helpful for cleaning. Cleaning techniques generally focus on the external ear canal, which comprises vertical and horizontal canals. The canal is generally two cm in length and varies from five to ten mm in diameter, depending on breed and size. There are many components that make up ear cleansers, which can be classified according to how the chemicals perform in the ear canal: detergents, organic acids and alkalizers, etc. In addition, alcohol components are included in many products. Hydrogen peroxide must not be used for cleaning healthy ears. Ear cleaning products may also be used after swimming or bathing to prevent swimmer’s ear and are useful in a maintenance ear programme to keep infections from recurring. It is important that vet demonstrates the proper cleaning technique to you. You will be advised to fill the ear canals with a cleaner and massage the ears for at least one minute prior to letting the dog shake his head. The external ear canal is then gently wiped with a cotton ball (never use ear buds). The frequency of use of the ear cleaner will depend on the individual. Ask your vet for a suitable ear cleaner for your pet.
Q: We want to adopt a stray pup who lives outside our home. I need advice on how to take care of him.
– Medha Prakash, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: A crossbred or mongrel puppy can be very appealing but he may be something of a mystery in terms of adult size and temperament, especially if you can’t judge the parents. Changing homes and leaving his mother is stressful for a puppy. It could cause an upset stomach. If this happens, take him off solid food for two meals, and just give him small quantities of water to drink. Then, gradually introduce boiled rice and scrambled eggs over 24 hours, before you reintroduce his normal puppy food again. If, however, the diarrhoea or vomiting continues for more than 24 hours, or becomes more severe, phone your vet. Once your puppy has settled in, you’ll likely want to change his diet to reputed brands of 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 and placing a covered warm water bottle in the bed will help him as this will feel like snuggling up to his mum.
When you leave your pup home alone, your puppy may feel separation anxiety from you as well as from mum. Leaving a radio playing quietly or a soft light may also make him feel more settled. You could try putting a cloth or something else that smells of you in his bed too. Socialising your puppy is very important and a worthwhile investment into your and your puppy’s future, as you are laying the foundation for the dog’s behaviour later on in life, and prevention is much better than cure. It is essential that your puppy is fully comfortable to be with people and children, other pets, tolerating motorbikes and cars, TV and washing machine – to name just a few.
Puppies love to chew. Generally, they chew to entertain themselves, because they’re teething/love to explore your home or if they’re a little bored and want to expend some energy. Toys and chews not only help prevent chewing behaviour but also help to train him to become more confident and obedient pet. Ask your vet for suggestions on which ones are best for your breed of dog. Lastly, other activities such as exercise, training, grooming are as important as regular visits to the veterinarian. Deworming and vaccination are must.
Q: My four years old pug Rambo is on dog food. He has put on weight. How do I make him lose weight? He is still not house trained and he keeps jumping on people, sofas and bed. Please help.
– Shruti Mohan, Bangalore

Dr KG Umesh: If you feed your dog a prepared pet food, the label on the package will provide a guideline as to how much to feed daily. These recommendations are a guideline only and you should make adjustments according to your dog’s individual needs. Don’t forget to take into account the calories in treats and other tidbits he eats—they shouldn’t make up more than 10-15 percent of his daily calorie intake. Try to exercise your dog as much as he can. The more muscle he maintains, the more calories he’ll burn and less fat he’ll carry. Start keeping a record of your dog’s weight. If possible, weigh him once a week. Give him two to four small measured meals a day so you can regulate his portions. To keep him from begging for food, feed your dog before you have your own meals. Your vet may give you guidelines on exercise appropriate for your dog’s age and health as well as specific advice on how much he should be eating. He can also check for, and treat, any weight-related problems.
There is a possibility that the dog may be house soiling as there is an underlying medical or behavioural reason (submissive, territorial marking, stress or anxiety, etc) and these behaviour problems can be modified effectively by training.
Exercise your dog for at least 30 minutes of walking or playing before guest arrives and if the arrival of guests makes your dog excitable, give him a break in his crate or in a quiet room with a familiar doggie bed or blanket. Train your dog to sit quietly near the front door when the doorbell rings and finally start by earning your dog’s respect through obedience commands—such as sit, stay and down. Remember, dog training involves consistency and repetition, so stick with it and don’t give in.
Q: I have a five-year-old pet dog (Estrela Mountain Dog). Please guide for better nourishment, health care, etc.
– Suzie Carlos, Mumbai

Dr KG Umesh: Owning a dog is a big responsibility and giving your dog the best care and attention can help to improve the quality and length of your dog’s life. Feeding your dog a well balanced diet is clearly necessary to keep him fit and healthy, and there is a whole variety of different types of products to choose from, including diets designed for specific stages of life and foods which deliver additional health benefits. Other activities such as exercise, training, grooming and regular visits to the veterinarian are equally important to keep your dog happy and healthy. Maybe one of the most important aspects to ensure a happy relationship between you, your family and your dog is to ensure that your dog’s requirements can be matched by your lifestyle and environment.
Q: I have a male Rottie, who is two years and nine months. He has developed small bumps on the skin in the neck area. The bumps also itch- as he keeps scratching them, what could this be?
– Naveen Sharma, Surat

Dr KG Umesh: There are many reasons for itchy small bumps on your pet skin. Most often, it is caused by fleas or other parasites, infection or allergies. Get him examined by your vet ASAP before it worsens or spreads to entire body.