Meet our Canine Expert Dr. Gautam Srivastava
Dr. Gautam Srivastava is a highly accomplished registered doctor, graduating in dentistry from the prestigious Manipal University, and pursuing his post-graduation in oral medicine, diagnosis, and radiology. With over 20 years of experience in the field of medicine, he has developed an unparalleled understanding of various diseases of the body, with a special emphasis on head and neck diseases, including oral pre-cancer and cancer.
Beyond his professional duties, Dr. Srivastava is a passionate animal lover, with a particular preference for the German Shepherd Dog. As the owner of Kennel the prefix "LuvShep German Shepherds," he occasionally breeds them and has developed a keen interest in canine training, nutrition, behavior, and the diagnosis and holistic treatment of various canine diseases.
His passion for canine genetics was kindled at a young age by his father, a renowned geneticist. Dr. Srivastava credits his knowledge to late Nawab Nazeer Yar Jung, a senior KCI judge, and to Mr Fred Lanting, a former SV judge and also an all-breeds judge from the USA, as his mentors in the field of canines. Dr. Srivastava is also a life member of SV, an umbrella organization located in Germany for German Shepherd Dogs, which further reflects his commitment and expertise in the field of canines. He regularly attends seminars, both online and offline, to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in his field.
As an avid book reader, Dr. Srivastava keeps himself informed on various aspects of canines, acknowledging that no one is perfect and we are all learners, doers, and teachers. However, he is disheartened when pet owners and breeders display a lack of interest in learning and instead rely on word of mouth, which can be fatal for their beloved animals. Dr. Srivastava firmly believes that every pet owner and breeder should have a basic understanding of their furry friends' needs to improve their quality of life.
Dr. Srivastava does not practice medicine, preferring instead to spend time with his furry friends and penning articles on various aspects of canines. He is open to guiding anyone looking to improve their pets' lives, knowing that there is always more to learn and improve upon.
9 Apr 2023
Dr. Srivastava is also a life member of SV, an umbrella organization located in Germany for German Shepherd Dogs, which further reflects his commitment and expertise in the field of canines.
1. What inspired you to become a canine expert, and how did you get started in the field?
Dr.Gautam: It started in my childhood and I don’t remember when, but I was less than 3 years and at that time I never inspired to become expert it was just that I loved animals. Knowledge gaining started when I got my first German Shepherd in 1996. I used to get frustrated when vets never shared the medicines they administered and also when I started interacting when Late Nawab Nazeer Yar Jung and Fred Lanting. The process continues till-to-date and every failure in my kennel and queries makes me more and more determined to learn and will continue till my last breath. We are all learners, doers and beginners.
2. In your experience, what are some of the most common mistakes pet owners make when it comes to nutrition and healthcare for their dogs?
Dr.Gautam: Actually the list is never ending but here are some of the most common mistakes novice pet owners make:
To buy a stubborn breed as a gift or to boost their ego. They get carried away by the cuteness of pup and realise their mistake when the dog becomes alpha. Not all breeds are meant for families like a Belgian Malinois, which require intense exercise and mental stimulation and does not prefer to be a potato couch. New time pet owners or regular pet owners should do research about the breed they want to purchase.
The second most common mistake pet owners do is bathing the dog every Week. Bathing a dog every Week is bad for the coat as it removes the essential oils from the skin, making it dry and prone to infections. Regular brushing three times a week is good enough to have a healthy shiny coat.
The third most common mistake pet owners do is to feed the dog three times a day. The Dog’s digestive system is not meant to be fed three times a day. Pets fed once or twice a day have a longer life with less digestive issues.
The fourth mistake pet owners make is giving the dog all it wants and when it demands as a result the dog becomes alpha and starts dominating or biting the owners or anyone.
The fifth mistake is not doing research about what to feed and how much to feed. For example feeding cooked chicken bones or giving milk. Cooked chicken bones are very brittle and can cause severe bleeding in the GIT by puncturing. Dogs cannot digest milk once they are weaned as dogs don’t possess an enzyme called Lactase, which digests lactose present in the milk.
The sixth mistake is most pet owners blindly believe pet-shop owners or vets or neighbors or friends who have no qualification in canine nutrition. For example pet owners are told by vets or others not to feed egg or egg yolk as yolk contains cholesterol. That is totally wrong because dogs don’t die of high cholesterol. Humans need carbohydrates for energy but dogs need fat for energy. Dogs in extreme cold climate like sled dogs take high fatty diet (lard) to gain energy and maintain weight during extreme winters. To some extent Vets can help but pet owners should do their own research or consult a professional who is qualified in canine nutrition. There are plenty of online websites which offer guidance to dog feeding and pet owners should know what to feed and what not to feed dogs for example a simple chocolate bar is toxic as it contains a compound called “Theobromine” which can cause convulsions and death.
The seventh and final mistake is giving dog a complete shave during summers. This is very dangerous as it can lead to heat stroke and skin burns due to heat. Dogs are also prone to develop skin infections when completely shaven. This is sheer laziness and nothing else as regular grooming during summers also helps in removing loose hair. To facilitate more cooling they can just be give a water bath and later dried properly with a towel followed by the use of a blower.
3. How important is pet behaviour and training, and what are some of the key techniques owners can use to ensure their dogs are well-behaved and socialized?
Dr.Gautam: Socialisation is very important in puppies. Puppies should be exposed to various public places, sounds, domestic animals, people during the sensitive period between 8 to 14 weeks. Dogs which are not socialised end up fearful or aggressive a problem difficult to handle once grown up. Basic commands like sit, down, stay can be taught by owners when puppies are young. Training should be fun with lot of appreciation and tasty treats.
Never use force or harsh punishment during training. Clicker training is very useful during this time. A well socialised dog is a well behaved dog.
4. What are some of the most important things owners should know about companion dogs, and how can they provide them with the best possible care?
Dr.Gautam: The best breed which can be companion dog is the Labrador Retriever. Although the list of companion dogs is endless the most common is the Labrador Retriever. The only care a companion dog needs is regular grooming, good food and occasional vet visits if required. The main function of companion dogs is to provide company to the owners who are disabled in some way like blindness, wheel chair ridden, old citizens, people with illness such as epilepsy or panic attacks, depression or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) etc. These dogs need to trained before being given to the owner. There are few facilities in India where companion dogs are available for a specific task. Companion dogs can be service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support dogs.
5. What makes working dogs unique, and how can owners ensure they are meeting their physical and mental needs? What is your viewpoint on working breeds of India, are they being ignored & why?
Dr.Gautam: A regular pet owner should avoid owning working dogs like Belgian Malinois. Working dogs need lot of exercise, mental stimulation and training. They are not fit for people who want a regular dog at home with regular walks. Unfortunately the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) has suffered the most as everyone prefers show line GSD because they look beautiful. But the main function of an ideal GSD is not beauty but work.
There is a big rift in Germany where we have two lines:
1. Working 2. Show Line. However, there is only one breed standard. Many in India have show line and import show line GSD at exorbitant prices. Most of the show line dogs are crippled in their hinds due to extreme angulation in the hind legs. Very few breeders in India breed working line GSD. It will be a miracle if the working line makes a come back in India.
6. What are some of the key factors that influence a dog's lifespan, and how can owners help ensure their dog lives a long, healthy life? Comment how can owners help their dogs maintain a healthy weight & balanced temperament, and why is this so important for their overall health and well-being?
Dr.Gautam: The smaller the breed the longer the lifespan. Pet owners can ensure a long live of their pet by giving adequate love, exercise, proper care and diet. No matter what an owner does a time comes when every dog crosses over the rainbow bridge
7. Can you discuss some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a dog food in its different life stages. Nowadays there are many variant of pet foods in the market, some prefer even home cooked food, how owners can ensure their dogs are getting all the nutrients they need?
Dr.Gautam: Pups need puppy food with lot of protein during their growth and should be switched over to adult food with less protein once growth is over. There are many dog food brands available in the market it all depends on the budget, number of dogs owned and what food suits their dog. Home made food is also good if time suits but home made food needs to be supplemented. Dogs are meant to eat protein from animal source and feeding them only vegetarian is not good. Nowadays the concept of raw diet is also there but there are many principles to be followed and I personally feel that Raw diet is the best.
8. How important is exercise for dogs, and what are some of the best ways owners can keep their dogs active and engaged? Where do owner go wrong here and what are the adverse implications?
Dr.Gautam: Exercise is very much needed and amount depends on the breed owned for example q daschund needs short walks and fetch but a large dog needs more exercise. Long walks, swimming, treadmill, fetch, hill climbing based on availability are some of the exercises needed. Many owners are lazy themselves, which can result in obese dog or ill tempered or destructive dog.