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Lethargy in dogs may underline graver issues

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Lethargy in dogs may underline graver issues

It is not easy to diagnose a heart disease in dogs no matter what the age...

Lethargy in dogs may underline graver issues

Vet’s Views

SB Mathur

One of the most experienced veterinary specialists in India, Dr SB Mathur is running a successful practice in Lucknow

Q: I have a seven-year-old Doberman male dog. It was a very active and energetic pet, but of late it has started showing signs of lethargy and coughs if made to run or do exercise. Can it be a sign of a heart disease as I have come to know that this breed is prone to it? What are the symptoms of an enlarged/weak heart and is it life-threatening? Please advise. Suman Raj Singh

It is not easy to diagnose a heart disease in dogs no matter what the age. Although it is more expected in elderly dogs, it is not an immediate death sentence and there are alternatives for treating dogs with heart disease. Prognosis depends on how quickly you get your dog to the vet and an official diagnosis is made. As for the breed more prone to heart ailments, while genetics certainly play a role, several other factors are major contributors to the disease including lack of exercise since puppyhood, diet, and obesity. Thus, heart disease can be congenital, meaning the dog was born with it and most likely genetic, or acquired, that affects middle-aged to senior dogs, and the disease is developed over time. Unfortunately, symptoms appear when the heart starts to fail. Common signs that a dog may be in the mild heart failure stage include Weight loss, no appetite, vomiting, lethargy, weak coughing (noticeable at night), and difficulty in breathing. Symptoms that a dog is in the severe heart failure stage include diarrhoea, loss of energy, edema (build-up of fluid in the body tissues/cavity), fainting, swollen abdomen (ascites) and limbs, poor circulation (tongue and gums are blue in colour), depression, difficulty in breathing at all times, even when resting, excessive thirst and urination, exercise intolerance (can be a first sign of heart failure – fluid builds up in the lungs) and an increased heart rate & a weak pulse.

Q: I have a Spitz female dog that is two years old. Of late I have started noticing bare, inflamed, red areas on her skin that she keeps scratching and licking. These are mostly near her left ear, and chest, and now spreading to her paws and the hip region. I tried over-the-counter’ remedies but she licked away the medicine. What is wrong with her and how should I treat her, please advise. Ashutosh Sharma

Your pet seems to be suffering from acute dermatitis, or a bacterial skin infection, also known as hot spots. These can be quite painful and grow at an alarming rate within a short period because dogs tend to lick, chew and scratch the affected areas, further irritating the skin. They can be caused by allergic reactions, insects, mites, or flea bites, poor grooming, underlying ear or skin infections, and constant licking and chewing prompted by stress or boredom. You should visit your vet so that proper treatment is started without further delay. Treating hot spots may involve shaving and cleaning the irritated area, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, or topical medications, depending on how bad the hot spots are, and how much pain your pet is in. He may also recommend the use of an Elizabethan collar around your dog's neck to keep her from biting and licking the lesions.

Q: My pet- a female Labrador- has difficulty in passing stools. Otherwise, she eats and behaves normally. What can be wrong with her and is there a treatment? Meenal Srivastava

Your pet could be suffering from constipation. Try to give her easily digestible home-cooked food. Her meals should be warm. Increase her intake of liquid. But first of all, take her to a good vet to rule out the possibility of an infection. It may require deworming.

Q: My Labrador bitch is behaving strangely. She tries to dig a hole in a corner of the bed and piles up sheets, then sits on it. Her abdomen also looks a little enlarged. She also howls at times. What could be the reason? Jaya Singh

Your pet is showing signs of false pregnancy or pseudo-pregnancy. This is a phenomenon especially characterised by bitches due to hormonal imbalances. In pseudo pregnancy, a bitch exhibits the same symptoms as in pregnancy: Abdominal enlargement, enlargement of breasts, and sometimes milk can also ooze out from its engorged breasts. Abnormally nasty behaviour and irritability are also some signs while sometimes it may show abnormal possessiveness with some animate or inanimate objects like a doll or toy. This pseudo-pregnancy is exhibited after the third and fourth week of the heat period of the menstruation cycle. Usually, these symptoms disappear by the ninth & tenth week of the menstruation cycle & no treatment is required. If the symptoms are aggravated, then it may require hormonal injections & medicines.

Q: My three-year-old Labrador has started vomiting, almost daily at least once. There is no behavioural change in him though and he eats his meals twice a day with enthusiasm. What could be wrong with him? Hemant Kumar

A dog may vomit simply because he’s eaten something disagreeable or gobbled down too much food, too fast, acidity or even dehydration. But vomiting can also indicate something far more serious dog may have swallowed a toxic substance or may be suffering from a condition that requires immediate medical attention. Vomiting can also be associated with gastrointestinal and systemic disorders that should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Vomiting that occurs sporadically or irregularly over a longer period can be due to stomach or intestinal inflammation, severe constipation, cancer, kidney dysfunction, liver disease, or systemic illness. An occasional, isolated bout of vomiting may not be of concern. However, frequent or chronic vomiting can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as colitis, intestinal obstruction, or parvovirus. If your dog’s vomiting is not an isolated incident, please take him to the vet right away for a complete examination and diagnostic testing. The causes of vomiting are so varied that sometimes obtaining a diagnosis can be difficult, so it’s important to give your veterinarian as much information as possible and indicate if other signs are also occurring, like the frequency of vomiting: If your dog vomits once and proceeds to eat regularly and have a normal bowel movement, the vomiting was most likely an isolated incident. But if he suffers from diarrhoea, dehydration, lethargy, if there is blood in vomit, weight loss, change in appetite, increase or decrease in thirst or urination, or he vomits more than once during the course of a day, or if vomiting persists past one day.

Q: My Pomeranian has turned quite bad-tempered. For a small size dog, he is very ferocious and attacks not only strangers but even family members. Is it a symptom of some disease or is there another reason for his foul temperament? What should I do? Manav Agarwal

If your dog has suddenly turned ferocious, it must be suffering from some disease. In that case, you should contact a vet. You must ensure that no one is causing unnecessary tension to your pet. Don’t try to force it into compliance or start beating it when it attacks, if you do, it may grow even more ferocious. Your vet may prescribe some mood regulator medicines if required depending on the situation. Sometimes in male dogs surgery (castration) also helps to calm down and regulate the temperament of the dog.

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