Understanding Diabetes In Dogs

In this latest post, we have decided to take a look at diabetes in dogs and unearth the signs, symptoms and solutions to this condition, from diet to medication.

Diabetes, properly known as Diabetes Mellitus, is a disorder caused by a lack of insulin in your dog’s body. This prevents him or her from converting glucose into energy and results in excessive glucose in their blood, which is also known as Hyperglycaemia. Diabetes in dogs affects roughly one in every 500 dogs and like diabetes in humans, it divides into two types.

Type one diabetes is where your dog suffers from a shortage of insulin. Whereas type two diabetes means your dog has a resistance to the insulin his or her body produces. However, both types of diabetes are easily manageable, so your pooch won’t be in too much pain.

What causes diabetes in dogs?

Diabetes is due to an insufficient production of insulin, which is a hormone produced in the pancreas. Usually insulin helps prevent additional glucose production by the liver, however a diabetic dog doesn’t have enough insulin to stop the liver’s production or to store the extra glucose properly.

Type two diabetes is often linked to obesity, as obesity can make cells resistant to insulin. A fatty diet can even contribute to pancreatitis, which is a risk factor for diabetes. There is also thought to be a link between diabetes and hormones therapies due to their interference with insulin production, dogs that are receiving medication for heat cycles are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. There are also indications that viral diseases can also lead to this condition.

The dogs at heightened risk to suffer from diabetes are mainly female dogs, who are three times more at risk than males. Although most cases of diabetes are seen in older dogs, it can occur at any age.

Genetics are also a likely cause for the lack of insulin, since some breeds seem to be more susceptible to diabetes than others. The breeds most at risk are Keeshonds, Pulis, Miniature Pinschers, Samoyeds, Cairn terriers, Poodles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Beagles.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

Diabetes in dogs can be fairly easily spotted. The most common tell-tale signs seen in diabetic dogs are:

  • Urinating excessively. The excess glucose in the blood, instead of being used for energy, will be carried out by the body through urine.
  • Unusually thirsty; their thirst is increased due to the excessive urination.
  • Obese or hungry a lot of the time, due to glucose levels in the brain being too low to register that it is receiving food.
  • Complete loss of appetite. Initially, diabetic dogs have a big appetite, but malnourishment causes the appetite to soon drop.
  • Lethargic, due to the glucose in your dog’s body not being converted into energy.
  • In more severe cases, your dog may be vomiting.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, your vet can usually diagnose diabetes with standard tests that include a blood count, a chemical profile, and a urine test. These tests should show an unusually high concentration of glucose in the blood or urine.

What are the solutions?

Lifestyle

Unfortunately, this is not a disease that can be cured, but your pooch’s health can be maintained so he or she can go on to live an enjoyable life.  After your dog’s diagnosis, there are quite a few simple methods help ease either type of diabetes.

Diet and daily exercise play an important role. As obesity is one of the major risk factors for diabetes, getting your furry friend to a healthy weight should be your first priority. He or she will need a well-thought out diet plan that includes daily exercise. Also, keeping a weekly chart of your dog’s diet, glucose results, daily insulin dose, and body weight is highly recommended to monitor his or her health.

Medication

As well as diet and exercise, at Vet-Medic we provide a range of products to help handle your dog’s diabetes. Check our diabetes and insulin section for treatments, such as syringes in a variety of sizes, which provide a comfortable method of injecting insulin. We also offer lancets to monitor blood glucose levels, or supplementary dog feed to control those levels.

Most diabetic dogs will require one or more daily injections of insulin to properly control blood glucose levels. The amount of insulin needed will vary by each dog. Doses are usually calculated according to their weight, age and gender. For instance, smaller dogs may need more than larger dogs.

You can easily deliver your dog’s insulin injections yourself. When giving him or her their daily shot, make sure both your dog and yourself are relaxed, as dogs can pick up your emotions. Also heat up the vial of insulin in your hand prior to the injection, as cold insulin could cause your dog discomfort. Remember to reward him or her afterwards with their favourite treat.

If you need any assistance with choosing the best treatment for your dog, or advice on diet plans then please do not hesitate to contact our team of experts.