Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis and TreatmentLast updated: August 02, 2016
Similar to humans, dogs can also suffer from diabetes. Although this condition can seem complicated and scary, most cases of canine diabetes can be effectively managed. With the right care, support and treatment, these dogs have a good chance of living a happy, healthy and active life.
What is It?Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common hormonal diseases in dogs. This chronic condition is the result of an insulin deficiency, which harms the body's ability to metabolize sugar or glucose. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps glucose move from the bloodstream into the body's cells, where it is used for energy. Diabetes occurs when the body makes too little insulin or doesn't process insulin properly.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus in dogs. Type I diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. This may be the result of the destruction of cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin. The treatment for this type of diabetes requires insulin injections. In almost all cases, dogs have type I diabetes.
Type II diabetes occurs when adequate insulin is produced, but the insulin cannot be utilized by the body. In this case, something interferes with the body's ability to use the insulin.
Diabetes is often associated with genetics, and overweight dogs are often predisposed to the condition. Dogs of any age can have diabetes, but it most commonly affects middle-aged to older dogs. Although it affects dogs of both sexes, it is more common in female dogs. Juvenile-onset diabetes may occur in dogs less than one year of age. This results when the pancreas does not develop normally in a puppy.
Although any dog can develop diabetes, certain breeds are more likely to develop the condition. These breeds include Samoyeds, Pugs, Keeshonds, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Poodles, and Terriers.
Symptoms of Diabetes in DogsMost dogs do not show signs of diabetes until the pancreas has completely lost the ability to make insulin. Symptoms of diabetes include increased urination, increased thirst, increased hunger, weight loss, sudden blindness and fatigue. If diabetes is not addressed promptly, other symptoms include seizures, twitching and intestinal problems.
DiagnosisVeterinarians will use diagnostic tests to determine if your dog has diabetes and what is causing the condition. Some of these tests include an analysis of the urine, a physical examination, a complete blood count, and a test to determine the blood glucose concentration.
Diabetes in Dogs TreatmentDogs with diabetes are treated similarly to humans with diabetes. This treatment involves a diet change and insulin therapy. Most dogs are treated with two daily insulin injections under the skin using a small needle. They also require a specific diet that is low in carbohydrates and fat but high in fiber, which helps to control their glucose levels.
After first being diagnosed with diabetes, your dog will probably need to see the veterinarian often for regular monitoring. This will allow the veterinarian to adjust the treatment and insulin dose as necessary. Once the disease is more stable, most diabetic dogs only require veterinarian visits a few times a year.
At-Home CareAt-home care includes blood testing, insulin injections, meal monitoring, and weight management. Blood testing helps monitor your dog's health by identifying blood sugar levels that may be too high or low. It is also helpful if you become familiar with the signs of low blood sugar, which include weakness, tremors and seizures.
Because diabetic dogs are predisposed to dehydration, ensuring that your pet has access to fresh, clean water is crucial. The timing of meals and insulin injections is vital, as well. Your dog should be given the same food every day, preferably at the same time each day. You may also need to develop a weight management plan that involves regular exercise for your pet.
Further ComplicationsDogs with diabetes have a weakened immune system, and this can result in secondary infections such as urinary tract infections. They are also likely to suffer from pancreatic inflammation, which can cause gastrointestinal upset. The most common complication related to canine diabetes is cataract formation. Cataracts cause clouding of the eye lens, often resulting in blindness.
PreventionThere is no known way to prevent type I diabetes. However, proper weight management may reduce the possibility of your dog developing type II diabetes. Obesity has been linked with diabetes, so weight loss may be beneficial in preventing this condition.
Diabetes can be a difficult condition for your dog to live with, but with the right management, there is a good chance you can get the condition under control.
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-The Revival Education Team
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.