As is the case with humans, diabetes in canines is a manageable disease. With the appropriate lifestyle changes such as dietary control, exercise and effective treatment, your dog’s quality of life can be significantly enhanced, restoring their activity levels and contributing to their overall sense of well-being.
Diabetes mellitus in dogs is categorised under Type 1 and Type 2, where the former is an insulin deficiency while the latter is marked by insulin resistance. The primary cause of Type 1 diabetes in canines is associated with pancreatitis, a condition that leads to damaging of the cells responsible for producing insulin in the pancreas. Research indicates that certain dog breeds such as Samoyeds and Keeshonds have a higher likelihood of developing Type 1 diabetes.
The causes of Type 2 diabetes in canines are similar to that of humans and are associated with obesity, Cushing’s disease and the use of steroid medications. Female dogs which have not been spayed also have a higher susceptibility to Type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes in canines start to emerge gradually. Dogs with high glucose levels urinate excessively and in large quantities which leads to dehydration and thirst. Other signs that are linked to diabetes are:
- accidental urination
- painful or bloody urination
- smelly urination
- glaucoma leading to loss of vision
- too much licking of the genitals
- increased appetite
- weight loss
Fortunately, the diagnostic procedure for canine diabetes is straightforward as veterinarians will be able to provide an initial diagnosis based on the emergence of the abovementioned symptoms. Diabetes mellitus is a condition which leads to the accumulation of unprocessed sugars in the blood stream when they cannot be properly metabolised by the body. This is known as “hyperglycemia”. Accordingly, “glycosuria” defines the traces of this component which are found in the urine. Blood and urine tests can be administered to check whether your pet has diabetes. These tests will usually require your pet to fast for a specific period.
If the diagnosis for diabetes is positive, the pooch’s blood sugar levels will have to be determined over a 12–24hour period to develop a “curve”. The dog will most likely have to stay overnight so that the vet can assess the curve in relation to their feeding and insulin injection times, thereby establishing a control against which to compare blood sugar levels in the future.
The treatment plan for the disease depends on its category. Canines with Type 1 diabetes need insulin following each meal, making it necessary for pet parents to learn how to administer insulin successfully. A vet will prescribe the dosage and type of insulin based on the dog’s condition. Associated symptoms may reappear or deteriorate over time needing the vet to re-adjust the insulin dosages accordingly. This may take months to come up with the most effective treatment plan owing to the vast availability of various types of insulin for your dog’s specific age, size, gender, and activity level, particularly if the disease in still in the early stages. Dogs with non-insulin dependent or Type 2 diabetes maybe prescribed medications in addition to the injections.
Managing diabetes takes a considerable amount of attention to detail. Besides giving your dog their insulin injection, you are also required to track their blood glucose levels, twice daily at a minimum. This entails pricking your pooch’s ear for a small sample of blood with a glucometer. Pet owners are advised to immediately contact their veterinarian if their pet’s blood sugar levels drop to extremely low levels.
If diabetes has emerged because of obesity, an effective dietary plan that is high in fibre can assist in managing the condition. A consistent and realistic exercise plan should also be integrated in your dog’s daily routine to keep their weight under control.
Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson
Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.