Diabetes Mellitus is a commonly known disease. It is considered by affected diabetes denotes. What is due to the principle of the disease. However, when Canine Diabetes Mellitus is mentioned, the sugar disease refers to the dog. In this context the name sugar dog was coined.
More and more dogs are known to suffer from diabetes. It is unclear whether there are really more and more of them. The amption is that it could also be due to better diagnosis. In any case, the sugar disease is the second most common hormonal disorder dogs suffer from.
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus can be divided into different forms. The first classification relates to whether or not it is insulin-dependent diabetes. In dogs, a distinction is also made between type 1 and type 2 (primary and secondary). Dominantly diagnosed with type 1. Type 2, on the other hand, is very rare.
In primary diabetes (type 1) there is an absolute insulin deficiency. Responsible for sufficient insulin are the β-cells. They are located in the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas. In case of diabetes the cells do not work anymore or produce too little. Why it is so, is not fully known until today.
However, it is believed that there are several possibilities. This includes z.B. a genetic predisposition in connection with infectious, toxic or inflammatory damage.
Just as various environmental factors must be considered. The result is the formation of antibodies that attack the area of the pancreas and thus destroy the insulin-producing cells. While humans have type 1 diabetes from birth, most dogs do not develop it until adulthood.
For secondary diabetes (type 2) can have three different causes and is therefore considered a secondary disease.
– Cause one are basic diseases such as – pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), pancreatic tumor, – Cushing's syndrome (hyperfunction of the kidneys), – hypersomatotropism (hypofunction of the thyroid gland) or – hypersomatotropism (excessive secretion of growth hormone).
Cause 2 is triggered by diabetogenic drugs. Includes glucocorticoids, growth hormones, and progestins, among others. The 3. Cause affects non-sterilized bitches. The ovaries secrete the hormone progesterone, which in turn stimulates the production of growth hormone.
However, the growth hormone is considered to be an antagonist to the required insulin. All three causes are characterized by insulin resistance.
Regardless of whether it is primary or secondary diabetes, the course of the disease is always the same principle. If there is too little insulin, the glucose (dextrose) can no longer be absorbed properly. It brings the metabolism of fat. Amino acids mixed up. Glucose is absorbed through food. Is produced in the liver by synthesis. If the sugar form can no longer be processed, not the cells but the blood is enriched with the sugar. Hyperglycemia is present. The kidney tries to minimize the surplus. However, if a limit value is exceeded, the sugar is excreted in the urine.
Because of the increased glucose content in the urine, it is necessary to pee more often. It is the attempt of the body to remove the excess sugar. The result is a loss of fluid, which triggers an increased feeling of thirst. Accordingly, significantly more is drunk.
Only very little glucose arrives in the cells. Consequently, there is a lack of glucose in the brain. The dog's satiety center reacts with hunger and larger amounts of food.
Because the absorption of glucose no longer functions properly, energy is missing despite increased food intake. In order to be able to perform, the body makes do and obtains its energy from the breakdown of proteins (mainly from the muscles) and fat. In the long run the dog loses weight.
A course that characteristically describes the onset of the sugar disease. Unfortunately, the symptoms are not always registered as such by the owners. Mostly only the symptomatology of the consequential damages is seen.
Among other things, the diabetes-induced lens opacity. Because the glucose is also deposited in the so-called aqueous humor of the lens. There, the sugar is converted into the substance sorbitol by the enzyme aldose reductase.
Cataract can occur due to the constant reflux of water. Sometimes a listless or comatose behavior can be observed. Then, if diabetes has already developed into manifest ketoacidosis.
By the way: Cataracts caused by diabetes mellitus cannot be treated with medication. The lens must be removed by surgery.
Consequences of Diabetes Mellitus in dogs
If the insulin deficiency persists unnoticed for a long period of time, it can have serious consequences. Important metabolic processes are disturbed. Example: fat is broken down for energy production. Accordingly, fatty acids are released in higher quantities.
The fatal thing is that the fatty acids can no longer perform their actual task in the citric acid cycle. Instead, there is a conversion to keto bodies, which in turn is responsible for the acidosis. The excess is excreted through the urine. The process is called ketoacidosis. Is life-threatening in pronounced form.
To get a confirmed diagnosis a veterinary surgeon must be visited. The blood glucose level of the fasting dog (over several hours without food intake) is measured. Blood plasma is taken.
A healthy dog normally has fasting values between 70 and 120 mg/dl. If a Caniner diabetes Mellitus is present the value is over 150 mg/dl. The determination of the fructosamine content is secondary to the determination of the sugar level in dogs.
Glucose detection in urine is only important in connection with diabetes mellitus if keto bodies or an increased specific weight can be detected at the same time. Only glucose in the urine can also indicate difficulties with the kidneys.
In addition to the examination of the blood plasma and urine, a blood count and urine culture are taken for better clarification. In bitches still follows a progesterone determination or vaginal cytology.
Insulin-producing islets of Langerhans were transplanted into a dog for the first time in 1891 by Oskar Minkowski. However, it is still not used today, as it is still in the experimental stage. The high costs are an additional deterrent.
As in humans, it is common practice to treat diabetes mellitus in dogs with the administration of insulin. Insulin is injected into a slightly fatter skin fold for this purpose. Oral administration is not yet known.
The time of the adjustment phase begins. Every sugar dog needs an individual dosage of insulin. For this purpose, the blood sugar value is measured every day. Optimal is the time with the lowest sugar value. It is ideal if a daily balance with several measurements can be created.
The better to adjust the insulin dosage every 5 – 7 days. The amount of insulin administered is optimal when the symptoms of thirst, appetite and urine volume are back within the "normal" range. The fasting blood glucose level (nadir) is between 80 and 120 mg/dl and remains below the 200 mg/dl level for the following 12 hours. A value below 80 mg/dl is normally not aimed at, as otherwise hypoglycaemia is imminent.
In bitches, the recommendation of sterilization as the first treatment measure often comes up in this context (s.a. The castration of the bitch). During heat, the bitch produces the hormone progesterone, which, as an antagonist of somatotropin, upsets the insulin balance.
Occasionally, symptoms and disease disappear after removal of the ovaries. Further treatment is no longer necessary. However, the chances are low.
Besides the administration of insulin, nutrition is an important factor. Simple carbohydrates cause a high rise in insulin, which must be avoided.
Which dog food is now considered a suitable diabetic food?? A high fiber diet with complex carbohydrates is optimal. The glucose is thus significantly slower. More evenly absorbed in the intestine.
In the case of underweight, an additional diet rich in crude fiber may be recommended. On the other hand, if pancreatitis or high fat levels are suspected, a low-fat diet is important.
A reputable veterinarian will have an informative conversation. In addition to the correct composition, it is recommended to always feed in the same time frame. Ideally 2 times a day, corresponding to the administration of insulin.