Diabetes in dogs is a serious endocrine disease that causes too much glucose in the blood. The most common type of diabetes in dogs is acquired, insulin-dependent Type II diabetes mellitus, also known as IDDM. This type of diabetes is similar to adult-onset diabetes in humans. The other kind of diabetes in dogs is diabetes insipidus.
The earlier diabetes in dogs is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Diabetes insipidus is caused by a lack of vasopressin, the antidiuretic hormone that controls water resorption by the kidneys. In dogs, the more common diabetes mellitus is a deficiency of insulin, the hormone that plays a critical role in sugar metabolism. The highest occurrences are in obese canines between 5 and 7 years, and female dogs are more susceptible. Spaying eliminates the interaction of the female hormones with blood sugar levels, and thus helps stabilize insulin levels. Untreated diabetes in dogs can lead to urinary tract infections and cataracts. A simple blood test will indicate if glucose counts look suspicious. A full physical exam should be done annually on your dog, even if it seems perfectly healthy.
The symptoms of diabetes in dogs usually include:
– Drinking excessive amounts of water;
– Frequent urination (may start to urinate in the house);
– Weight gain (or weight loss in some cases);
– Increased lethargy during the day.
Don’t panic if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes is a manageable disease in dogs. It takes more work to care for diabetic dogs, but our pets are family members. The least we can do in return is provide proper health care, especially if they suffer canine diabetes. Responsible guardians try to provide an enjoyable life for their pets, with less pain.
The goal after a canine diabetes diagnosis is to get glucose levels down to a normal (or only slightly elevated) level by following some simple steps. Diabetes in dogs means someone must administer insulin injections that are easy to do and will quickly become routine. You must monitor how your dog responds to the injected insulin dosage by testing the urine with test strips. The test strip will tell you how much sugar is present in the dog’s system, and you may have to adjust the dosage of insulin based on the results.
Your veterinarian will instruct you on how to use the test kits, results to look for, when to administer higher or lower dosages, and the proper way to administer the treatment. Stick to the time schedule your veterinarian provides, and keep a record of the test strips results, amount of insulin given, and your dog’s eating behaviors and attitude. This will help you understand the dog’s condition, and assist your veterinarian if other problems arise.
Commercial dog food companies have helped create this epidemic of diabetes in dogs.
Their processed food contains a high concentration of sugar to make it more palatable. The benefit to the companies is increased sales because dog owners see their beloved canines “wolf” down the food like it’s the best they’ve ever eaten, so the owners keep buying it.
Be strict about what you feed your dog.
Emphasize foods high in fiber and protein, and restrict fats and carbohydrates. Feed your dog at the same times every day. What they eat and when they eat it affect the sugar/insulin levels.
One-third of the total daily amount of food should be given half hour prior to the injection. The remaining amount of food should be given 8-10 hours later. If you give your dog snacks before bedtime, reduce the dinner amount by the snack amount. Exercise will affect the sugar levels in the dog’s blood stream. You don’t want that level “up” one day and “down” the next. The “up and down” isn’t good for the dog. Set up an exercise program and stick to it. If your dog is overweight, put it on a diet to lose weight slowly.
As in humans, blood sugar levels will fluctuate.
It is crucial to take your pet periodically to the veterinarian for a whole day (8-hour period at least) to monitor blood sugar levels throughout the day. This helps ensure your diabetes treatments are working properly. Family members age teen and up should know how to give the insulin in case of a dog health emergency. Post instructions by the phone, the fridge (where the insulin is kept), the bed, and where the dog hangs out a lot, of how to give the injection to your pet just in case. Make a diabetes “Dog Health Cheat Sheet” for potential problems; include the veterinarian’s emergency number and basic actions to take in each scenario:
Too much insulin is accidentally injected.
The needle breaks off while in the dog.
There’s a seizure (not common, but can happen occasionally).