Don’t judge your puppy’s weight yourself
Q: My dog (a small breed) is super exited about food and gets crazy when we eat. Can he be so hungry all the time and is it ok if we give him tidbits while we snack? Madhurima Chatteterjee
Our dogs really aren’t that hungry. They’re just very good at manipulating us into giving them handouts. If you do have a dog that would gobble down anything — and especially if that dog is overweight — then you have to take control. Consult your vet on your dog’s actual dietary needs per day, create a regular feeding ritual and schedule for your dog, and stick to it. Don’t let anyone in the house give him scraps or handouts, and only give treats when your dog has earned them by doing a job and then showing calm, submissive energy. An overweight dog is not a happy dog no matter how excited he may get about food. He may have no idea when he’s had enough, but we do.
Q: My three-year-old terrier is not eating as it used to. It leaves food in the bowl and does not show a keenness for snacks like it used to. Could it be the onset of some ailment? Vikram Kumar
Loss of appetite in dogs is a symptom that can be indicative of a variety of possible underlying problems. The underlying cause could range from a minor stressor to a life-threatening illness. A pet choosing to eat little or no food as the result of an upset stomach or stress may begin eating again within 24 hours. However, loss of appetite for longer than 1-2 days can be a sign of medical emergency and should not go untreated. Refusing to eat more than two meals is uncommon for most dogs. It is also important to note whether any environmental or dietary changes have occurred that may be causing the loss of appetite in your pet. Possible stressors could include moving to a new home, having house guests for a visit, a family member leaving for a period of time, getting new pet, loud noises (fireworks, gunshots, thunder) or change in diet. Monitor your pet for 24 hours and if low appetite continues or if you notice the pet is not having bowel movements or is having diarrhea and/or vomiting, visit the veterinarian for an examination.
Q: I have recently acquired a Labrador puppy and am feeding her as per the chart provided by the breeder. But she is not gaining weight as she should. What should I do? Kalpana Singh
Many puppies that owners deem too thin are at a healthy weight and the owners are trying to make them fat because they don’t have a good understanding of what a healthy puppy looks like. Unless the puppy has a known health issue, being slightly ‘ribby’ is generally healthier than slightly overweight, especially for large and giant breed dogs. For pampered pets, the inability to gain weight is rarely due to inadequate food intake, especially if the puppy’s appetite seems good. Puppies grow at different rates, but if yours is below the average for his breed, there may be an issue. Anything from ineffective feeding methods to underlying diseases can cause slowed growth in puppies. It’s best to play it safe and take your puppy to the vet to rule out medical causes. There could be any number of reasons behind her inability to gain weight, but intestinal parasites—particularly roundworms and hookworms—are probably the most common.
Chewing helps pups grow strong healthy teeth
Q: I have a Lhasa-apso pup, who loves to chew—be it footwear, carpet or our hands. We are not able to train him. Mridula Kumar Puppies chew while growing teeth, just like human babies, and footwear always are their favourite. You cannot train him into not chewing. However, you would be advised to let your dog chew on things like especial bones that are prepared with the very intention of helping a puppy pass through the chewing stage. Chewing is a healthy habit that keeps your dog’s gums and teeth healthy as well as exercising the jaw. By giving them good toys and chewing bones, you can turn their destructive tendency into a good one. But, be very careful while purchasing toys for your pet. Refrain from buying toys that are stuffed with synthetic fibre that the puppy might ingest and fall grievously ill. Do not give your puppy anything that it might swallow. You must also ensure to place a bowl of clean water when you give your pet its meals. After eating the food when it will drink the water, it will automatically rinse its mouth too. Many owners who give their pet commercial food, add water to it with the intent of softening. They generally think that the water that they have added is sufficient for the pet. However, it is not a wise practice as water acts as best mouthwash for pets and even puppies must be allowed to drink a little after meals. 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 phenomena specially characterised by bitches due to hormonal imbalances. In pseudo pregnancy, a bitch exhibits the same symptoms like in pregnancy: Abdominal enlargement, enlargement of breasts and sometimes milk can also ooze out from its engorged breasts. Abnormally nasty behavior and irritability are also some signs while sometimes it may show abnormal possessiveness with some animate or inanimate objects like some doll or toy. This pseudo pregnancy is exhibited after third and fourth week of heat period of menstruation cycle. Usually these symptoms disappear by the ninth & tenth week of menstruation cycle & no treatment is required. If the symptoms are aggravated, then it may require hormonal injections & medicines. 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 to 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. 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 a possibility of an infection. It may be requiring deworming.