SINGAPORE - In this fortnightly column, veterinarians from the National Parks Board answer questions about pet health and behaviour.
Practise caution when giving dog multivitamins
In early March, my one-year-old Shiba Inu Bubbles had diarrhoea and some vomiting. I gave her antibiotics and steroids, but each time she finished the 10-day course of medicines, her diarrhoea returned the next day. She also started making loud noises while defecating. I have consulted two vets for her condition. One warned me that she could be on medication for life - something I am not comfortable with. I would like to explore all other options.
I added multivitamins to her daily diet, based on her weight. However, she had soft stools and broke wind just before defecating.
Do multivitamins cause diarrhoea and should I give them to Bubbles? The vet prescribed probiotics and a herbal supplement with ingredients such as marshmallow, chamomile and liquorice, which are meant to soothe the gastrointestinal tract and reduce inflammation. Is this supplement a good replacement for antibiotics and steroids?
Multivitamins and supplements for animals often serve as a supplementary or adjunctive treatment for certain diseases, which may help reduce the severity of symptoms. However, they do not replace the prescribed therapeutic medications.
While multivitamins may seem harmless, do not give them to your dog without a thorough discussion with your vet on the frequency and dosage to give. High doses may damage organs like the kidneys.
You should also not give multivitamins manufactured for humans to your dog, as the dosages for humans and animals are different.
Consult your vet again as to why Bubbles makes noises while defecating, and about any further tests that may help with the diagnosis and treatment of her condition.
Dog's recent hacking cough is worrying
For more than three months, my 14½-year-old dog has had a hacking cough. He coughs at certain times of the day, such as early in the morning when he wakes up or late at night. When he gets excited during the day, he coughs in the same manner. He does not experience panting or breathlessness. I have stopped giving him cold fruit and cold dog's milk.
Your dog's cough could be due to various reasons. Take him to the vet for a check-up as soon as possible as well as for follow-up visits.
The vet can conduct a thorough physical examination to assess your dog's overall health, and may recommend diagnostic tests like radiography or an X-ray to determine the underlying cause of the cough.
Different conditions can cause coughing in dogs - such as heart disease, chronic canine bronchitis or tracheal collapse - which require different treatment plans.
The vet can recommend a suitable method of managing the cough, which may include medication.
Frequent coughing may further irritate or inflame your dog's respiratory tract, worsening the cough.
Other adjunctive measures include avoiding pressure on your dog's neck area. For instance, use a chest harness to avoid pressure from a leash pulling on his neck collar when he is taken for walks; and reduce over-excitement or over-exertion that may cause barking or increased breathing effort.
Keep your dog in humid environments, such as by using humidifiers, and avoid air-conditioned areas.
• Answers by Dr Shawn Chia and Dr Juline Chua, who are veterinarians from the Animal and Veterinary Service under the National Parks Board.
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