Diabetes mellitus in dogs – symptoms, diagnosis and therapyDiabetes mellitus, also called diabetes, can affect not only humans but also animals. In dogs (and also in cats) diabetes is one of the most common metabolic disorders. It is estimated that about one in 100 dogs is affected by diabetes mellitus, but depending on the region, the number may be higher.
The typical age at which dogs develop diabetes is between seven and nine years of age. Female dogs, neutered males, mixed breeds, and dogs weighing less than 22 kilograms are at higher risk for diabetes. Certain breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and beagles, are also known to have a tendency to diabetes mellitus.
In diabetes mellitus, the body can no longer properly regulate its sugar balance (carbohydrate metabolism). Normally, the blood glucose level rises after the dog has eaten. The hormone insulin is necessary so that the cells of various ties and organs can absorb the sugar from the blood. Like a key, in a healthy organism it allows sugar to enter the cell where it is needed as a source of energy. In dogs with diabetes mellitus, however, blood glucose is blocked from entering the cells. The result is an excessive blood glucose level, while at the same time the cells suffer an energy deficiency.
The typical symptoms of the disease eventually arise from this connection: affected dogs drink remarkably much, have to urinate frequently and lose weight. If a diabetic dog is left untreated, other metabolic disorders (z. B. in fat and protein metabolism) and organ damage occurs, for example in the eyes. In extreme cases, the metabolism can be so derailed that the dog can die from it. If a pet owner suspects that their dog may be diabetic, be sure to present the dog to a veterinarian. He knows how to detect diabetes and how the disease can be treated.
What causes diabetes in dogs??
There are two main forms of diabetes mellitus: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is the most common form in dogs (in contrast to cats). The cause is insulin deficiency, as the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas lose their function. In some dogs, the dog's own immune system attacks these cells, but researchers suspect there are other causes, such as hereditary and environmental factors.
Type 2 diabetes
While type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in humans and cats, it does not appear to occur in dogs. In type 2 diabetes, the insulin-producing cells do not produce sufficient amounts of the hormone, and the cells in the tie do not respond to insulin (insulin resistance). In humans and cats, there is a close relationship between type 2 diabetes and obesity. In dogs, on the other hand, obesity does not seem to have a comparable influence on the risk of diabetes.
Other causes of diabetes in dogs
In addition, the following causes of diabetes in dogs are known:
Hormones: In unneutered bitches, the sex hormone progesterone can promote diabetes. Symptoms often improve temporarily, but then recur in the bitch's next fertility cycle.
Medication: Cortisone plays an important role in medicine and veterinary medicine, mainly because it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. However, it also affects carbohydrate metabolism. Can – if in excessive amounts in the body – also cause diabetes.
Diseases: In Cushing's syndrome, a metabolic disorder in which the adrenal glands secrete excessive amounts of the body's own cortisone (cortisol), diabetes mellitus is a possible concomitant disease. In addition, diseases of the pancreas (z. B. tumors or inflammation) are associated with diabetes.
What are the symptoms of a dog with diabetes?
Due to the high blood sugar level, a diabetic dog excretes sugar in the urine, which is not the case in a healthy dog. Since this is simultaneously associated with a large loss of water, frequent urination and severe thirst are among the most typical symptoms in dogs with diabetes. At the same time, the ties have an energy deficit because they can't get at the sugar. Therefore, a diabetic dog may be constantly hungry, eat large amounts of food, and still lose weight. However, there are other diseases that are associated with similar symptoms. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, you should definitely take them as an indication that something is wrong and have your dog examined.
How does the veterinarian diagnose "diabetes" in a dog??
If a dog is suspected of having diabetes mellitus based on symptoms, the veterinarian will order a blood and urine test to make the diagnosis. If the laboratory results confirm that the dog is diabetic, further examinations follow to determine the exact cause of disease.
What is the treatment of diabetes in dogs?
The goal of diabetes treatment in dogs is to get the excessive blood glucose levels back under control. If a dog has the most common form, type 1 diabetes, various therapeutic measures are used:
– Insulin for dogs: The missing insulin can be replaced by porcine insulin. It is identical to canine insulin. The insulin is injected into the dog, z. B. with an insulin pen. How much and how often a dog gets insulin is adjusted individually by the veterinarian. It is particularly important that the correct dose for the dog is precisely observed and that the insulin is administered correctly. Therefore, the veterinarian will carefully instruct the dog's owner beforehand. – Diet for diabetes: A diabetic dog should have a healthy body weight. It is important that he gets a regular fixed food ration every 12 hours and at the same time his insulin dose. – Exercise: Regular physical activity is important for every dog, especially for diabetic dogs. This is because the muscles can absorb and utilize the insulin better, and at the same time the blood sugar level is lowered more effectively. Sudden and particularly strenuous services should be avoided, however, because otherwise again a too low blood sugar level threatens. Good is exercise according to the motto: "Regular and moderate".
What is the life expectancy of a dog with diabetes?
If a dog with diabetes mellitus is treated appropriately at an early stage, its life expectancy can be similar to that of a healthy dog. In order to achieve this goal, it is particularly important that the vet and the dog owner consult each other well. How it can z. B. be that a diabetic dog is well adjusted for a long time and then suddenly needs a different insulin dose. Therefore, it is good for owners to always tell their veterinarian directly if the dog has gained or lost significant weight or appears ill.
A dog with diabetes mellitus also has a higher risk of concomitant diseases, for example, clouding of the lens of the eye (cataracts) or changes in the retina of the eye. Therefore, it is advisable to schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian with a dog suffering from diabetes.
Sources: Corradini, S. et al.: Canine diabetes mellitus. Veterinary Focus Ie 02, Volume 27 -June 2017 Kohn, B.