Mumbai's fat dogs are going under knife for bariatric surgery

Updated: Nov 28, 2017, 19:30 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

With obesity spiralling among dogs, pet owners rush to Parel's Bombay Veterinary Hospital for minimal-invasive bariatric surgery

Even as dogs in the city continue to battle weight issues -- around 20 per cent of Mumbai's canines are currently suffering from acute obesity -- the Bombay Veterinary Hospital in Parel appears to have found a unique solution to contain the endemic. For the last three years, the hospital has been performing laparoscopic bariatric surgeries on overweight pets, much to the relief of distraught pet owners.

Representational Pic
Representational Pic

The centre has already carried out 15 successful weight-loss surgeries since 2014, with 10 more dogs in the waiting list.

Surgery to the rescue
JC Khanna, head of Bombay Veterinary Hospital said that due to weight gain, dogs become susceptible to all kinds of diseases, including arthritis, heart and respiratory diseases, and diabetes, which leads to early mortality.

It's the rise in obesity-related diseases that first prompted the hospital to start carrying out bariatric treatment in 2014. The surgery, which costs between R10,000 and R15,000, is currently being performed under laparoscopic surgeon Dr Santosh Tripathi.

Like humans, canines also have to undergo several tests before they go under the knife. "We diagnose the dog's fat ratio by measuring its stomach and hind legs. If overweight, we try and put the animal on a diet and suggest medication and exercise. However, if they don't lose weight normally, we opt for bariatric surgery," said Tripathi.

According to Tripathi, bariatric surgery helps reduce the animal's weight by at least 30 per cent. Post surgery, they need to follow a strict protein and fibre-rich diet as prescribed by the doctor, along with regular walking and running. "To reduce pain, the operation is done through a telescope, which also causes minimal blood loss. The surgery takes around two to three hours," said Tripathi.

Success story
Pluto, 6, a Labrador was almost 45 kg, when he was rushed to Bombay Veterinary Hospital seven months ago after he developed severe breathing problems. After several tests, the doctor's learnt that the dog was 13 kg overweight, and his condition had already begun affecting his kidney. With no option in hand, his owner decided to opt for bariatric surgery. Today, Pluto is 7 kg lighter and has been following a strict diet plan.

Raja, an Indian stray that lives at the Parel hospitalBefore: 36 kg: Raja, an Indian stray that lives at the Parel hospital. After: 24 kg; Three months after the surgery

"We weren't aware that bariatric surgery was available for dogs. When Pluto was diagnosed with acute obesity, his condition had deteriorated. He couldn't walk or breathe properly. Now, five months after the surgery, he has lost around 7 kg and is doing far better," said Pluto's owner, who did not wish to be named.

According to Khanna, there is currently little awareness among pet owners regarding animal food. "The owners pamper their dogs with sweet food, which increases the risk of diabetes and obesity. Fortunately, it can be cured if timely precaution is taken," he said.

Most affected breeds: Labrador, Pugs, Indian dogs

Normal weight chart:

Labrador: 32 kg
Pugs: 9 kg
Indian Dogs: 20 kg

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