One of the most experienced veterinary specialists in India, Dr SB Mathur is running a successful practice in Lucknow
Q: My two-year-old Pomeranian female often develops tear stains around her eyes. What can I do to keep her clean? Kirti Jain
When a pooch produces more tears than the duct system can remove from the eyes, the surplus spills over the sides. This condition is called epiphora and some breeds experience more problems with it than any other. In addition to staining fur, these excess tears also serve as a magnet for dust, dirt, and other particles, leading to a less-than-desirable crust. And if the skin stays moist for too long, the area could become inflamed or infected. First, have your vet check for correctable causes: Your pet’s tear duct might be plugged up, or she could have an eye infection. A stray eyelash, dust, or smoke can also contribute to excess tearing. When and if these factors are ruled out, you'll get a diagnosis of epiphora of unknown origin, and from then on, regular maintenance is the key. Clip the hair on her snout very short. This makes it easier for you to clean her tears on a daily basis. Use eye drops, if prescribed by your vet.
Q: Every time my five-year-old spaniel-mix, Debbie, greets me—or anyone else—she pees. Why? And how can I get her to stop? Divya Pandey
This behaviour, called submissive urination, is quite common in puppies. Most dogs outgrow the habit by their first birthday, though some never do. Given that Debbie is five-year-old, it will take some work to train her to adopt a more confident hello. Submissive urination is a form of canine communication when your pet wants to convey to you that she knows you are above her in social structure and that she respects it and won’t threaten your place. In other words, Debbie is trying very hard to please. Recognize what brings on this salute, and do your best to avoid any human behaviour that triggers this response. When you first get home, ignore your dog until you are both outside or she is calm. Then, sit at her level and stroke her gently under the chin, rather than towering over her to pat the top of her head (animals can interpret this as an act of dominance). Encourage family members and friends to do the same. Above all, don't scold or discipline Debbie when she approaches you and urinates. A negative reaction will only make her try harder to prove her submissiveness. Your aim is to build self-assurance, and as you readjust your methods, Debbie will eventually learn to greet you with just a wagging tail.
Q: My 10-year-old dog was diagnosed with canine lymphoma. Would you recommend chemo for an animal of his advanced age? Abhishek Singh
Canine lymphoma, also known as lymphosarcoma or LSA, is one of the most common forms of cancer in dogs, but that doesn't make it more curable. As I'm sure your vet told you, while chemotherapy can extend an animal's life, it won't eradicate the disease. Instead, the right combination of drugs can put the cancer in remission, and there is no way to tell how long this remission will last. That said, the treatment is successful around 80 percent of the time. Your dog may well lead a normal life for a year — a decent stretch for an elderly animal — before the LSA returns, and the medical regimen must begin again. That said, chemotherapy can also be an option as canines very rarely suffer from the side effects (nausea, hair loss, and more) that humans endure. If you decide to go ahead with chemo, expect a weekly IV injection for six weeks, plus a few pills each day. Your pet shouldn't be in any discomfort; in fact, most dogs appear to feel better once their lymph nodes shrink to normal size, often as soon as 48 hours after treatment begins. My advice: If you can afford the price, why not give your pooch the chance?
Q: I am thinking of getting an identification microchip for my Beagle puppy. I just want to know: Is this considered humane? KK Singh
Absolutely. Implanting one of these devices (about the size of a grain of rice) between a dog's shoulder blades is no more painful or time-consuming than a vaccination. It will be a lifelong protection for your pet in case it gets lost or stolen. It is also inexpensive.