One of the most experienced veterinary specialists in India, Dr SB Mathur is running a successful practice in Lucknow
Q: A stray dog has come into our area with a ghastly wound on the head. At first, we thought the dog was mad, but it was not attacking anyone. It ate and drank when we gave it food and water, and wagged its tail when we addressed it. The dog must be in a lot of pain because the wound is pussy and smells. How can we help it? Rajat Singh & friends
This dog can be suffering from maggot infestation which is caused by screwworm fly. It is very common in Indian strays. Most stray dogs and cats have some form of physical injury or cut from fights, road accidents or abuse from humans. If the animal cannot reach the wound to lick it clean, it becomes an easy target for maggot infestation. It can even cause slow death. Cleaning of the wound will be required. Do not attempt to help an animal yourself if inexperienced but seek the help of a local veterinarian or an animal welfare organization. In case the animal is not hostile, and lets you treat it, you can clean the wound with Betadine (by pouring adequate quantity over it). Once cleaned, coat it with Neosporin dusting powder (or even turmeric) to prevent any infection and further larval accumulation. This has to be repeated every day for a week. If there is an improvement, good, otherwise you will have to visit a vet. However, never use petrol, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, deodorants or any other flammable spirit on the wound. Besides causing unbearable pain, their ingestion can be dangerous to the animal. Don’t use bleach or powdered lime, don’t use boiling water or acids and don’t spray anti-parasitic sprays used for killing ticks and fleas. In any case, the best help would be, take the animal to a vet.
Q: I have a young Indie dog who loves to eat paper in any form—newspaper, packets, envelop and even wrappers. How do I stop my dog? Is my pet being naughty, or can it be a symptom of some deficiency? Jasmin
Eating paper is a very bad habit in dogs that can even prove fatal. You will have to discipline your dog and punish it every time you find it eating paper. Be extra responsible and keep such things out of its reach. Sometimes a deficiency of vitamins and minerals may also lead to such bad eating habits. Get it checked by your vet.
Q: My Labrador is two year old. She has a habit of sneaking out of doors and playing with street dogs. We have her fully vaccinated. Is that okay if she mingles with the mongrels? Raj Kaushal
On a general rule, we must not let our pet dogs mingle with the street dogs. There are a number of reasons for that—Your dog may be vaccinated but you are not, and it may inadvertently carry back germs to you from its contact with the strays (also there are allergies and ailments that can still be contacted despite routine vaccinations); your dog may get into a fight with the dogs and incur injuries that would cause you unnecessary hassle of additional medication and vaccinations even if your dog is vaccinated for rabies. Then, the most important reason is, your dog may conceive if you let her out during the breeding season. Similarly, those with male dog should also show responsibility and not let their dogs sneak out during that period and impregnate the bitches on the streets.
Q: I have a five year old Indie female dog that was earlier very active. However, lately she has become quite dull and prefers to sleep most of the time. Can she be I'll or is she aging? Seema Chatterjee
We are witnessing extreme temperatures and the bad weather may have taken a toll on your pet. Most probably she is neither unwell nor aging if she is eating normally. Let the weather improve and her mood may change too. She may even be suffering from depression or mood swing if her menstrual date is near. If you still have doubts, consult your vet.
Q: There is a stray cat that frequents my house. She is unafraid of us and comes near us to rub her body fondly against our feet. However, of late my son and I have started noticing uneven colouring on her skin and her fur is also thinning. Is that a disease and can we treat her at home? KK Singh
It is good that you show compassion to strays. Your cat is probably suffering from skin allergy. You should consult a vet. If it is possible, take the cat along, if not then take photos of the affected area (proper close-ups) so that he can get an idea and advise treatment accordingly.