Pet talk

By Maneka Gandhi

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka, answering one of her readers if it is necessary to shave dog to protect him from a heat stroke, gives tips on what can be done to keep pets cool during summer.

I just got a puppy. He has been howling constantly and is not passing any stool. What should I do?

Most dogs pass one or two stools a day. As long as the stools are normal in size, and pass easily, it is no cause for concern.

However, most dogs suffer from constipation at some time or another. For some, it becomes a chronic condition, or signals a more serious problem.

A common cause of constipation — especially in middle aged and older dogs — is not drinking enough water. When your dog’s dehydrated, the colon overcompensates, resulting in harder faeces that are more difficult to pass. Other common causes include: a) Not enough fibre in the diet; b) Ingested objects such as rocks, bones, cloth, or garbage; c) Worm infestation; d; Lack of exercise; e) Matted hair blocking the anus; f) An underlying medical condition; g) Medication which is treating another condition.

Constipation may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as colitis, an obstructed bladder, or an anorectal obstruction. Check for other symptoms: a) Painful defecation; b) Passing blood or mucus; c) Straining during defecation; d) Scooting; e) Weight loss; f) Evidence that your dog has chewed splintery bones; g) You need veterinary help; h) However. if it just constipation you can help your dog to get back on a regular schedule.

i) Be sure your dog has lots of water available; ii) Add fibre to the diet. Psyllium (Isabgol) or Metamucil, works well; iii) Don’t give your dog bones. These cause serious complications; iv) Add daily walks and let the dog have a relaxed bowel movement, instead of hurrying him along; v) Ask your vet about laxatives. Add one to two tablespoons of oil to your dog’s food — but only once or twice a week; vi) If your puppy is howling, do not take this lightly. Go to the vet and get an X-Ray done immediately.

There is a heat wave going on. Should I shave my dog to protect him from a heat stroke? He is a Lhasa Apso.

A pet’s coat is designed by nature to keep it cool during the summer and warm in the winter. By shaving your pet, you usually interfere with this built-in temperature regulation.

Cats, in particular, are very good at regulating body temperature, and really get no benefit from being shaved.

However, over the centuries, humans have bred dogs to have thicker coats, and these breeds can use help cooling off during summer’s heat. If you have a dog with a very thick coat, who seems to suffer from the heat, some veterinarians suggest shaving them when the mercury rises. Resist shaving shorter-haired breeds because not only do they get no benefit from it, but they also run the risk of sunburn once shaved. You may also want to shave a dog that stays outside all the time, has a matted coat, and is likely to be wet often. In these circumstances, a dog can develop an unpleasant condition called myiasis — maggots in the fur.

Do not think of doing it yourself. It’s a lot cheaper to take your pet to a groomer, than to have to pay a vet for a wound repair. Leave at least one inch of hair when shaving your pet. This gives your pet enough coat to protect from sunburn and chilly summer nights. Do not shave your dog close to the skin. Not only do you raise the risk of painful sunburn, but a close shave can leave guard hair imbedded under the skin. New hair won’t grow until these ends fall out, causing irregular growth and often skin problems.

The best thing you can do for your pets, when summer comes, is help them keep themselves cool. To do that:

a) Be sure cats and dogs always have plenty of water. On really hot days, try putting ice cubes in your pet’s water bowl; b) The prime way dogs cool themselves is through panting. Be sure your dog and cat have a shady place to get out of the sun; c) Your pet’s normal body temperature can range between 100-103 F. When it’s that hot outside, or hotter, it can be hard for pets to keep cool through panting. So on really hot days, bring cats and dogs indoors; d) Brushing your pet removes dead undercoat, helping air to circulate near the skin, keeping pets cooler; e) If your pet does overheat, act fast. Get your pet to a veterinarian right away — it could save your pet’s life.

Signs that your pet may be overheated include problems breathing, excessive panting, drooling, weakness, stupor, and an elevated heart rate. Symptoms can also include seizures, vomiting, a temperature over 104 F, and bloody diarrhoea.

How does one recognise whether their dog is suffering from kennel cough or not?

Kennel cough, the common name given to infectious canine tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs.

As the name suggests, it is typified by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. This disease is found throughout the world, and is known to infect a high percentage of dogs, at least once, during their lifetime.

a) A persistent cough is the most common symptom; b) Retching; c) Watery nasal discharge; d) In mild cases, dogs are often active and eating normally; e) In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, in-appetence, fever, lethargy and even death.

Dogs often develop clinical signs associated with kennel cough 3-4 days after exposure to a large number of other dogs (example, at a boarding facility or show).

The diagnosis of this disease is largely based upon the type of symptoms that are present and a dog’s history with regards to exposure to other dogs. The veterinarian may order some combination of blood chemistry tests, a complete blood cell count, a urinalysis, faecal examinations, and chest X-rays. If a dog does not respond to treatment as expected, additional testing (example bacterial cultures) may be necessary to identify the micro-organisms that are causing kennel cough.

Treatment depends on the severity of the infection. If your dog is alert, active, eating well, and has only minor symptoms, your veterinarian may only prescribe general supportive care, like rest and good hydration and nutrition. More severely affected dogs benefit from medications that reduce inflammation and coughing. If a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics may help shorten the course of the disease. Dogs with pneumonia often need to be hospitalized for more aggressive treatment.

In order to prevent the spread of this disease, dogs with kennel cough should be isolated until they are better and no longer contagious. Dogs who are at high risk for infection (example, those who attend dog shows, or spend time in boarding or day care facilities) should be vaccinated against Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus.

All dogs should be vaccinated against canine adenovirus. Even after being vaccinated, dogs may still acquire kennel cough (although usually a less severe form than they would otherwise have gotten).

Can monkeys be kept as house pets?

No, it is illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Monkeys, as little babies, are very cute and cuddly.However, this phase always ends. The monkey gets angry, destructive and violent. What is happening is that your cute little surrogate child is becoming what God intended it to become — a monkey. It is not tameable. You will then cage it, which is extremely cruel.

It will become bored and upset because it does not have the space, monkey-to-monkey interactions and activities, to keep it occupied. It will bite you and fly into rages when insignificant things happen that it does not like, or for no apparent reason at all. It will begin to act psychotic, hugging itself, rocking, sucking its fingers and pacing its cage. It will chatter a lot and “smile.” Monkeys do not smile because they are happy; they smile when they are anxious or frightened. It will become more and more demanding and possessive of your time and attention. It may remain loving with you, but fly into a jealous rage with other members of your family.

Ultimately you will either kill it, which is murder, or you will leave it in the wild where it is unable to fend for itself and will die when it approaches other humans and homes.