One of the most experienced veterinary specialists in India, Dr SB Mathur is running a successful practice in Lucknow
Q: My pet dog suddenly starts zipping around like mad in an overexcited, over-energetic manner. Trying to calm him down is impossible. The ‘bouts’ last from 5 to 15 minutes. What could be wrong? Chanchal
These are known as frenetic random activity periods (FRAPs) and nothing to worry about. They’re a totally normal way for your dog to release pent up energy. There is usually a build-up period. They are also a way for dogs to relieve stress, which may be why they run around after they have a bath, because they’re happy it’s over with. Exercising (walking or running your dog) can help in keeping your dog calm.
Q: My three-year-old pet Lab is not eating properly for the past few days. Can it be some illness or just bad weather? Rituparna Sen
If your dog isn’t eating but seems otherwise fine, it might be the weather. But, if your dog is showing signs of distress aside from not eating, give your vet a call. There may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Be on the lookout for diarrhoea, throwing up, or lethargy. Your dog could be avoiding his food due to an illness like some liver, kidney, stomach or dental infection or even a fever.
Q: My dog is shedding heavily. Can the hair cause allergies? A Siddiqui
All dogs shed to some certain degree, it’s a natural process that allows their new coat to come in. However, some breeds tend to shed more than others. Seasonal shedding often occurs as a result of temperature change. Although shedding is very common in dogs, excessive shedding can also be a sign of certain diseases. Nervousness, excitement, and stress can be trigger points for a dog’s hair to shed. A common misconception is that animal hair aggravates allergies. However, the real culprit is the dead skin cells that shed with it. The dog hair itself is not a significant allergen, but the dander (dead skin cells that are continually shed). Dander collects airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mold spores. Removing the shedding hair will stop this process. Thus, proper grooming is required. You should bathe your pet with a good dog shampoo every 15 days and thoroughly comb the coat to remove loose hair. This should help.
Q: I have adopted a German Shepherd. Should I give him commercial food or home cooked meals? Anamika Bannerji
Dogs are indeed omnivores, but a mixture of healthy fats and proteins are enough to sustain a canine. About 14% of our dogs’ ancestors’ diets consisted of carbs. Today, most packaged dog foods contain 46 – 74% carbohydrate in the form of corn or grain. You can also ask your vet for a recommended macro-nutrient breakdown (carbs, fat, protein) to accommodate your dog’s breed and lifestyle. Many companies add artificial colouring, preservatives and additives like salt and fat that can contribute to behavioural concerns like hyperactivity. To take your dog’s diet into your own hands, you could prepare all-natural meals. With a home-cooked diet, you have the benefit of slowly eliminating different ingredients to see which may be causing potential problems. Protein is a major energy source and vital to a healthy diet, but dogs predisposed to hyperactivity may become too fuelled by it. A healthy amount of protein for one dog may cause a behavioural issue in another.
Q: How much exercise does my pet needs to maintain a healthy weight? Vividha Mishra
You have not mentioned the breed or the age of your dog! For most dogs, a 20-to 30-minute walk twice a day is a sufficient amount of exercise. However, traditionally active breeds or high-energy dogs may require more exercise, including the chance to run off leash in a safe area for longer periods of time. In addition, your pet’s exercise needs will vary based on their age, size and overall health. While exercise is one important aspect of maintaining a healthy body weight, proper diet and feeding practices are equally important. Pets should be offered portion-controlled meals of a high-quality, balanced diet while avoiding people foods or excessive quantities of treats.