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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Eat, sleep: It's a dog's life

Dr Kirti Dua, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 05, 2014
First Published: 08:50 IST(5/5/2014) | Last Updated: 08:57 IST(5/5/2014)

India is shining and the obvious manifestation is the phenomenal escalation of the purchasing power of the country's middle class. If life now is more comfortable, lifestyle diseases or rich man's ailments also have flourished.

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The same is true of their companion animals as well, since these also have become sedentary, couch potatoes, eating machines that burn almost no calorie.

Obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems in pets, leading to cardiac disease, respiratory disorders, joint and musculoskeletal issues, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism and certain types of cancers.

A large canine population in the Indian urban areas is obese, yet the owners complain that the dogs hardly eat anything. In her expensive car, a worried young woman drove her cuddly dog to my clinic. I asked her what the pet had eaten since morning.

"Nothing more than a banana, six almonds, two bites of pastry and the favourite Mother Dairy vanilla ice-cream. A student in the room whispered to his friend how nice it would be if the lady put the dog collar around his neck and take him home.

Gone are the days when dogs were kept only on table scrap. In well-off families, canines now live on imported diet and mineral water; and wear designer clothes and shoes.

Instead of playing in the field, the tail-waggers ride in fancy cars. Even the puppies know how to open the car door and operate the power windows.

Dogs share the master's tastes and fancies; one even shared his evening drink; and another brought to my clinic comatose had too much of whisky from the two bottles the owner has put on the table for New Year's Eve celebrations.

The pooch smashed the bottles by pulling to the ground, had all the liquor and got knocked out. It could not be saved. Hooch tragedy in the festive season!

One day, a middle-aged fat couple walked their obese Labrador into the clinic. The animal was a case of hypothyroidism, or weight gain because of hormonal disorder.

I prescribed the dog Eltroxin (a drug replacement for the deficient thyroid hormone). As a part of protocol, I told the couple the medicine was prescribed for cases of hypothyroidism in people as well.

The man had a good laugh and told me both his wife and he had the problem and now they could give their morning pills to the dog as well. One happy family!

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