If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, it can be a frightening and stressful time for you. However, armed with the proper knowledge you can help your companion cope with a potentially dangerous disease.
What is dog diabetes
Dog diabetes refers to diabetes mellitus in canines. There are other forms, but the focus here is on Type I diabetes in dogs.
You may hear the term dog diabetes and immediately think of someone you know who is diabetic. However, people more commonly suffer from Type II diabetes while dogs are almost exclusively affected by Type I diabetes. What does this mean? Simply stated, Type II diabetes is a result of insulin resistance and Type I diabetes is a lack of insulin production.
Dog diabetes is classified as an endocrine disorder based around the hormone insulin.
What are symptoms your dog may suffer from diabetes?
Cardinal signs of dog diabetes
Suddenly going blind and/or sudden-onset cataracts
Excessive eating or increased appetite
Signs of advanced dog diabetes
Loss of appetite
Lethargy or decreased energy is a non-specific sign that is often associated with more advanced stages of diabetes.
Depression is another symptom not very specific to diabetes. However, dogs with more advanced forms of the disease can exhibit disinterest in their surroundings.
Vomiting can be a sign of advanced diabetes as other organs begin to react to blood sugars that have been elevated too long. Repetitive vomitting can indicate a serious problem and calls for immediate veterinary attention.
Why do dogs develop diabetes?
If damage occurs to the pancreas, it can affect insulin production and lead to diabetes. Injury to this sensitive organ can be caused by recurring bouts of pancreatitis(Inflammatory infection) or surgery that might be performed in an adjoining area.
Dog diabetes appears to have a strong genetic component. Certain dog breeds have a high incidence of diabetes and pancreatitis. A small list includes poodles, Siberian Huskies, Keeshonden and Cairn terriers.
What are the dangers of dog diabetes?
There is a direct relationship between the risks of dog diabetes and treated vs. untreated forms of the disease. Left untreated, a diabetic dog will eventually suffer from kidney and liver failure. This will, of course, lead to a greatly decreased life expectancy. On the other hand, a diabetic dog under your diligent care and your veterinarian's guidance should live a long healthy life.
How to deal with dog diabetes
Your veterinarian may recommend a diet change for your dog. Although dog diabetes has not been linked to obesity, proper eating is vital to help prevent pancreatitis. A healthy diet and weight will also help your dog cope better with a long-term disease process. High fiber and good-quality proteins are associated with more stable blood sugar levels. Your veterinarian may switch your pet to a prescription diet.
Regular exercise will help your dog control his blood sugar levels in a more effective way. Exercise in dogs has been shown to prevent extreme peaks and valleys of blood sugar levels.
Regular veterinary check-ups are indispensable for ensuring your dog remains healthy and in good spirits. Your veterinarian can monitor blood chemistry levels and help you stay abreast of blood glucose levels. Often a medical professional can detect a slight abnormality before you notice any change in demeanor.
Treatments for diabetic dogs
Type I diabetes will require you to administer insulin to your dog every day. The most effective and consistent way to deliver insulin is by injection. There is no need to be apprehensive as dogs, in general, are very tolerant of the tiny needles.
If your pet friend is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will guide you through an insulin protocol appropriate for her needs. Some dogs need insulin twice a day while others can be managed with only one treatment a day.
In the initial stages of treatment, your veterinarian will closely monitor progress and your dog's blood sugar levels. Do not be surprised if you and your dog are trekking to his doctor multiple times within a week at the beginning of an insulin regimen.
Complications of dog diabetes
Dog diabetes is a complex and dynamic disorder that can be progressive in nature if not carefully managed.
Diabetes mellitus is one of the leading causes of cataracts and blindness in dogs. This is a result of blood glucose effects on the lens.
Low blood sugar can occur through an accidental insulin overdose. Watch for signs of dullness, sluggishness, and weakness. Hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and shut down of the nervous system. Seek medical intervention immediately if you suspect improper insulin administration.
Ketoacidosis is a very serious metabolic imbalance that can lead to severe dehydration and overwhelming blood glucose spikes. If your diabetic dog is not eating, vomiting and sluggish, contact your veterinarian right away.
Dog diabetes is a challenge that faces pets, owners and medical professionals alike. We at Pet Express Animal Hospital know that pets are like family and strive to provide compassionate and knowledgeable guidance and treatment to ensure your diabetic dog remains healthy for years to come. If you need an appointment for a blood glucose check or you think you have a diabetic emergency, call us!