Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from diabetes. Since the disease leads to an excessive increase in glucose in the blood (blood sugar level), it is often referred to as diabetes.
The following explains the possible causes of diabetes and the symptoms to watch out for. You'll also learn how to diagnose and treat diabetes in dogs.
– Diabetes is a metabolic disease that leads to a sharp rise in blood glucose levels. – The reason for the increase is either insufficient production of insulin or insulin resistance. – Among the possible causes of diabetes in dogs are problems with the pancreas. Diabetic dogs usually need to be treated with insulin for the rest of their lives. Be fed with special diet food. – Without treatment, diabetes can be fatal for affected animals.
What is diabetes anyway?
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes the regulation of blood glucose levels by insulin to be impaired. Insulin is a hormone whose function is to transport glucose from the blood into the cells where it can be processed.
If the transport does not work, the affected dog experiences a sharp rise in blood sugar levels and thus the typical symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetes breaks out mainly in older dogs. In young dogs, on the other hand, diabetes is rare, but it can happen.
Different forms of diabetes
There are two forms of diabetes, which are fundamentally different from each other in terms of the cause of the disease, but in the end lead to the same result. In type 1 diabetes, the dog's pancreas does not produce enough insulin.
In contrast, with diabetes type 2 there is actually enough insulin available. However, the animal's body is not able to use it to regulate blood glucose levels. However, such insulin resistance is rare in dogs.
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Possible causes of diabetes in dogs
The exact causes of diabetes are still largely unclear. Presumably, diabetes in dogs is promoted by an interaction of several factors. These include, among other things, infectious diseases, disorders of the immune system and hormone balance, and obesity. In addition, problems with the pancreas, such as pancreatitis, are among the possible causes of diabetes in dogs. Apart from this, there is also a genetic predisposition in some dog breeds.
Breeds at increased risk include:
– Dachshund – Beagle – Spitz – Maltese – Pug – Miniature Poodle – Labrador – Golden Retriever – Miniature Schnauzer
Symptoms of diabetes in dogs
If a dog suffers from diabetes, this manifests itself through a number of symptoms. The exact extent to which these occur depends not least on the progression of the diabetes.
The following signs can indicate diabetes in dogs:
– Excessive urination and severe thirst – Difficulty healing wounds – Weight loss (despite often a large appetite) – Fatigue – Cataracts (in advanced diabetes)
Without treatment, low insulin levels may even cause life-threatening shock, in which the dog loses a lot of water and goes into a coma.
Diagnosing diabetes in dogs
Diabetes is not something you should take lightly as a dog owner. If you suspect that your dog is diabetic, a timely visit to the veterinarian is essential. To check your suspicion, the veterinarian will first measure your dog's fasting glucose level.
Afterwards, he will probably carry out a so-called glucose tolerance test, in which he administers a sugar solution to your dog. By measuring blood glucose levels after one hour and after two hours, the veterinarian can check the extent to which your dog's body is still capable of regulating blood glucose levels.
In a healthy animal, it should return to baseline after two hours. If this is not the case, it is a clear sign that your dog is diabetic.
In addition, when diagnosing diabetes, it is a good idea to perform a urine test to measure the levels of ketone bodies and glucose. Since a positive result in this test can also indicate kidney problems, the protein/creatinine ratio in the urine is usually determined as a precaution.
Treating diabetes in dogs
For the treatment of diabetes, it is very likely that your dog will need daily insulin injections from now on. The vet will show you what to look for in this regard. The administration of tablets, which is often given to people with type 2 diabetes, does not usually help dogs.
In the event that hormonal imbalances have led to diabetes, neutering may help. In addition, it is necessary to treat any pre-existing conditions, such as Cushing's syndrome.
The right diet for dogs with diabetes
In addition to treatment with insulin, a consistent change in diet is necessary. The blood sugar fluctuations can be reduced with a special diet feed. In mild cases, this can sometimes even be enough to control diabetes in dogs.
A change in diet is important if your dog has diabetes! @Africa Studio /Shutterstock
If your four-legged friend is overweight, you should also make sure that he loses weight. This makes sense not only in the context of treating the diabetes, but also with regard to other possible diseases.
Prognosis for dogs with diabetes
What diabetes means for affected dogs depends to a large extent on the time of diagnosis and the start of treatment. However, diabetes in dogs is rarely curable. Usually requires lifelong therapy.
It is important that you strictly follow the instructions of the veterinarian regarding the administration of insulin and feeding. Your dog should be fed only suitable diet food. Additional snacks must be avoided.
Even if there is of course no guarantee, your four-legged friend should still have a few years without any significant restrictions to his quality of life if the therapy is started promptly. Without treatment, diabetes will sooner or later be fatal for your dog.
Diabetes in dogs: Possibilities for prevention
Since the exact causes that ultimately lead to diabetes in dogs are largely unclear, a reliable form of prevention is unfortunately not yet possible.
However, there seems to be a link between obesity and diabetes in dogs. For this reason we advise you to pay attention to the weight of your quadruped and to provide for a healthy nutrition as well as sufficient movement.