Seated on a wooden cot, six-year-old Bruno looks around nonchalantly as his caretaker, Jasbir, gives him a shot of insulin. Bruno, a diabetic German Shepherd, needs three injections a day and his sugar level has to be monitored.
He was diagnosed with diabetes six months ago after his owners, the Karves from Dadar, noticed that he exhibited the typical symptoms – loss of weight, a voracious appetite, frequent urination and excessive thirst.
Ahead of the World Diabetes Day, city veterinarians are concerned about the rising incidence of diabetes among canines.
"We see diabetes-related complications such as loss of vision and kidney failure in dogs with badly controlled sugar levels — just like it is with diabetic humans," said Dr Rajiv Gaikwad, hospital superintendent and professor at Bombay Veterinary College. "But it is possible that we are seeing more cases due to frequent testing."
In rare cases, when the dog can be administered tablets, the food has to be laced with oral drugs, said Dr Gaikwad, adding that the treatment is costly.
"Diabetes was once described as a rich man’s disease. Similarly, among canines, it is a rich dog’s disease," said Dr Gaikwad.
This might explain why a five-year-old diabetic Labrador was found wandering along the Eastern Express Highway near Vikhroli over five years ago. She was rescued by volunteers of the Thane Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"She was possibly abandoned as she has diabetes. We have named her Jalebi," said Shakuntala Majumdar, president of the Thane SPCA. Jalebi used to often run into walls, an indication of weakening eyesight due to consistently high sugar levels, she added.
"An ophthalmic surgeon confirmed that her vision was affected due to diabetes. After she was put on homeopathic treatment, her sugar is under control and she is slowly regaining vision in one eye," said Majumdar.