By the time doctor Dhaval Patel made it to the dog’s residence – which was within minutes – the battle was lost as the dog was no more. The 12-year-old pet suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed.
Heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, arthritis and even hypothyroidism are ailments and conditions commonly associated with middle-aged to elderly humans. But each of these ailments are commonly impacting pedigree dogs lately. Here too, poor lifestyle including processed diet and lack of exercise has led to rise in canine obesity in the longer-run and is triggering heart ailments and a slew of other issues.
Veterinary doctors based in Ahmedabad estimate that at least 40% of dogs above the age of five have at least one or more of these conditions. The ratio increases to 6 out of 10 in dogs above eight years of age.
“Rise in feeding processed dogfood to pets without knowing the right dietary requirements of the breed and lack of exercise is causing dogs to turn obese at a very young age,” said Dr Dhaval Patel.
Processed food, lack of exercise causing obesity
Rise in feeding processed dogfood to pets without knowing the right dietary requirements of the breed and lack of exercise is causing dogs to turn obese at a very young age. Processed foods are high in both protein and fat. Without the right exercise, a dog turns obese, which in the longer run is the culprit behind diabetes, heart enlargement and arterial blockage, kidney malfunction, among other diseases in pedigree dogs,” said Dr Patel. He is currently treating a dog who has diabetes, is insulin dependent and suffers from cataract.
“At least five dogs regularly come to our hospital with ailments including heart enlargement, kidney issues and even thyroid. One of the dogs I am treating is suffering from a chronic skin infection which was triggered due to secondary hypothyroidism,” said another city-based veterinary doctor.
Obese dogs often suffer from arthritis by the time they turn eight or nine.
Besides poor exercise and diet, a key reason for these ailments is also genetic. For instance, Ahmedabad-based Rimi Avadhi adopted a year-old pug, Mike, from a rescuer. Months after he came to Rimi’s home, he began wheezing and faced breathing difficulties.
“Upon approaching the veterinary doctor, we learnt Mike suffers from heart enlargement which is caused due to a genetic condition. We were asked to stop processed food immediately besides medication. He also cannot climb the stairs and needs breaks in between walks and therefore, we need to lift him up when we have to take stairs. With medication and precautions, his condition is stable,” she explained.
Given the rising social media-influenced trend of adopting pets since the Covid-19 pandemic, animal health experts and rescuers have raised alarming concerns over uninformed adoption and poor awareness widely seen among pet parents.
Dr Hiren Thakkar, a post-graduate in veterinary science and a surgeon based here, said, “Nearly all pedigree dogs are often recklessly bred by breeders and in breeding i.e. breeding two dogs within the same litter is a common phenomenon. Just like humans, in-breeding often causes serious ailments among dogs too! A poor immunity among puppies is also one of the key causes of serious ailments. Just like a human baby needs mother’s milk for immunity for the initial few months, we don’t advise adopting puppies younger than 90 days because it makes them susceptible to chronic infections and ailments.”
Doctors claim that such ailments which were common in dogs aged 15 years are now seen in dogs as young as six years.