Most of us are aware of diabetes and the risks it poses to our own health. But did you know that dogs can develop diabetes too? Canine diabetes is very manageable with the proper care but it is important to bear in mind it is not a curable disease. The key to managing this illness is for pet owners to have a good understanding of the disease process and good support from your vet.
What is canine diabetes?
Diabetes in dogs is very similar to its human equivalent. Diabetes occurs when the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is needed for the body to absorb glucose (sugar).
When insulin isn’t doing what it should in the body, the dog’s blood sugar level becomes elevated also known as hyperglycaemia. If this sugar level is left untreated dogs can become extremely unwell and it can lead to serious health complications. Urinary tract infections can become a common problem due to the excess sugar in the urine helping bacteria to breed.
Are there different forms?
Most dogs with diabetes suffer from the Type I form which means they are unable to produce any insulin and will need insulin injections for life. Type II diabetes means the dog’s pancreas produces some insulin but not enough, or doesn’t respond to it properly, which also causes an elevated glucose level. Type II diabetes in dogs is extremely rare.
What symptoms should I look out for?
Increased urination – if you notice your dog going to the toilet more frequently this can be a tell-tale sign of diabetes.
Increased thirst – dogs with diabetes tend to drink more than is normal as their body is trying to keep up with the extra fluid lost through their increased urination.
Increased appetite – – dogs with diabetes tend to have an increased appetite
Weight loss – without insulin, sugars in the dog’s diet cannot be used by the body. This means the dog isn’t getting enough calories and they start to lose weight despite the increased appetite previously mentioned.
Cloudy eyes or cataracts – many dogs with diabetes go on to develop cataracts and can go blind so check your dog’s eyes regularly for signs of cloudiness.
How is diabetes diagnosed in dogs?
Diabetes is easily diagnosed through blood and urine tests. These tests are testing the level of glucose in your pet’s blood and urine. In some cases your vet may require additional tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. An early diagnosis can mean a longer and healthier life for your dog. If you are worried that your pet is showing any of the symptoms of diabetes speak with your vet.
How is canine diabetes treated?
Once a diagnosis has been made, your vet will advise you of the most appropriate treatment plan for your pet.
Most dogs will require daily insulin injections. Understandably, pet owners can be concerned about giving these injections, but your vet will show you how to give these injections. It is very important to stick to a routine, giving the injections at the same time every day and to follow your vet’s instructions carefully to keep your dog’s glucose levels regulated.
Your pet’s diet plays a significant role in the management of diabetes. Your vet will advise you on the diet that is most suited to your dog should your dog be diagnosed with the illness.
Regular check-ups with your vet are hugely important to successfully manage canine diabetes. The good news is that canine diabetes, properly managed, won’t stop your furry friend form leading a long, healthy, happy life.