For most dog owners it is a shock to learn that their four-legged friend has diabetes mellitus, commonly known as "diabetes". Immediately one has thoughts of the daily measuring of the blood sugar, nasty injections which one must give to the dog also still and infinite veterinary surgeon bills in the head.
How you even notice that your dog could have diabetes mellitus and why the diagnosis does not mean the end of the world, we explain to you in this article.
What is diabetes mellitus in dogs ?
Diabetes mellitus means "honey-sweet flow" and was so named because the urine of the patients is very sweet due to the sugar it contains.
In this disease there is a disturbance of the sugar metabolism because of a problem with the hormone insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. Insulin is necessary to transport sugar from the blood into the cells where it is available as energy for the metabolism.
In type 1 diabetes mellitus, the pancreas produces no insulin or significantly too little insulin. In type 2, the cells of the body, except for brain cells, are not able to recognize insulin. In the consequence it comes with both types to a lack supply of the cells with sugar from the blood, which affects negatively the energy household of the cell.
Our dogs usually have type 1 diabetes mellitus, which means they have too little or no insulin available to them.
Which dogs get diabetes mellitus?
Mostly dogs are affected in the second half of their life, i.e. from about 7-8 years of age. In principle, diabetes mellitus can occur at any time in a dog's life, including in puppies and young dogs.
Genetic influence and preventive measures
Diabetes affects due to hormonal influences slightly more female than male animals, also a genetic predisposition can not be excluded in some breeds, such as the Samoyed, the Miniature Schnauzer and the Poodle.
Symptoms and diagnosis of diabetes mellitus in dogs
Symptoms and their causes
The symptoms that a dog with previously undiagnosed diabetes mellitus may show are due to the abnormally high level of sugar in the blood.
We as dog owners often notice first that our quadruped drinks unusually much and must accordingly more out. Partly dogs have to go several times at night to "pee" although they have kept up before without any problems.
This happens because the kidneys are no longer able to keep the sugar in the blood after a certain blood sugar level and it passes into the urine. Since sugar has an attracting effect on water, more water is also introduced into the urine with the sugar. Consequently, the dog lacks water, which it tries to compensate for by drinking more.
In addition, dogs with diabetes mellitus are constantly hungry – this symptom alone, however, is not an urgent indication of diabetes, since there are many dogs that enjoy the best of health and yet constantly stare sadly at the empty bowl in the hope that someone will fill it.
However, dogs suffering from diabetes visibly lose weight in spite of the abundant food intake. This is based on the fact that too little sugar is available to the cells because it remains in the blood due to the lack of insulin. They have to obtain the energy they need for metabolic processes in other ways – for example, by breaking down muscles.
In general, however, if you are concerned that your dog may suffer from diabetes mellitus, it is better to go to the vet once too often than once too little, because early diagnosis and therapy can prevent secondary diseases of diabetes, such as eye diseases.
Diabetes diagnostics in dogs :
At the vet first some urine is collected and tested for sugar. This can be done directly in the practice and gives first indications whether the suspicion of diabetes mellitus is justified. However, a definite diagnosis should be confirmed by further examinations. For this purpose, a blood sample is taken from the dog, which is examined, among other things, for the elevated blood sugar, a value called fructosamine (which is a kind of "memory" of the blood sugar value in the dog) and organ-specific values.
The veterinarian then makes the diagnosis "diabetes mellitus" after interpreting the findings he has collected and discusses the further procedure and therapy with the owner. Mostly this is frightening for owners to have a chronically ill dog, but with a little practice the management of diabetes can be done easily.
The diabetes therapy of the sick dog
The therapy of diabetes mellitus in dogs consists of several parts, as it does in humans. The goal is to bring the blood glucose just above normal and stabilize it there. Experience has shown that this management gives the best results and the dog maintains its weight, shows normal water intake and excretes normal amounts of urine accordingly.
The veterinarian will prescribe a specially adjusted insulin regimen for the dog, which will be injected at home by the owner. With a little guidance from the veterinarian, this can be learned quickly. Usually does not pose a problem. It is important that the insulin is always administered at the same time of day and that the instructions of the veterinarian are strictly adhered to. Under no circumstances should the dose be changed arbitrarily, as the dog can then fall into a possibly life-threatening hypoglycemia!
After explanation by the veterinary surgeon the owner can supervise its dog at home well, control the blood sugar level with simple means and pay attention whether the symptoms regulate themselves such as excessive drinking.
If the dog was overweight before the diagnosis, then with the help of the veterinarian a weight reduction is aimed at and the feeding is adjusted accordingly. A dog with diabetes mellitus must never starve (which, by the way, is not an adequate method of weight loss, even for healthy dogs), because in combination with insulin administration, hypoglycemia is imminent.
In bitches, due to the hormonal component, spaying can be helpful under certain circumstances. However, this should be coordinated individually with the attending veterinarian.
Diet of the dog after the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus :
The feeding of the dog with diabetes mellitus plays a central role in the success of the therapy. To ensure an even blood sugar level, the dog should usually be fed twice a day and not be given any "treats" in between. The dog's food should be rich in crude fiber. Reduce calories a little, if necessary. There are various ready-made foods available that are adapted to the needs of a diabetic dog. Can be fed in consultation with the veterinarian.
However, the ideal is to adjust the diet individually to the quadruped. This can succeed by own composition of the fodder, as it is for instance with the kind-fair raw feeding the case and thereby the therapy success and consequently the long-term health of the dog extremely affect. It is advisable for a diabetic dog to prepare and monitor the diet plan together with a specialist. This can be done, for example, by the veterinarian himself or by an appropriately trained veterinary assistant.
What sounds a lot at first – blood glucose measurements, giving injections, changing the food – actually only takes some getting used to in the beginning and, admittedly, is not completely free either. If however the attitude of the dog and the consultation by the veterinary surgeon after the Erstdiagnose took place the subsequent costs amount to a comparatively small amount, and that dog attitude and straight the healthy attitude of the animal are not always free of charge understands itself.