Diabetes in dogs: What you need to knowDiabetes mellitus, or diabetes, develops when your dog can no longer process sugar (glucose) properly, making blood sugar levels uncontrollable. Insulin produced in the pancreas is crucial for regulating blood glucose levels and glucose storage. Insufficient insulin production is potentially life threatening.
Just like in humans, diabetes in dogs is a serious but manageable disease. There are two types of diabetes. And although there is no cure, both types can be successfully managed in dogs with diet, exercise and regular insulin administration if necessary. With the right food and advice from the vet, your diabetic dog can still enjoy a happy and active life.
What causes diabetes?
The cause of the reduction in insulin production is generally damage to the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for providing the right amount of insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. In some dogs, hormonal changes or medications can reduce the effect of insulin. If your dog's pancreas is damaged, he may experience long-term and potentially life-threatening symptoms that require treatment.
Factors that contribute to your dog developing diabetes include:
Body condition. Overweight or obese dogs are more likely to develop diabetes.
Age. Dogs can develop diabetes at any age, but it most commonly starts around eight years of age.
Sex. Females are twice as likely to develop diabetes.
Race. Some breeds of dogs, such as Samoyed Spitz, Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle and Bichon Frise, are more prone to diabetes than others.
Other factors may include diet, hormonal imbalances and stress.
Does my dog have diabetes?
Signs of diabetes are difficult to recognize because they are similar to those of other disorders such as kidney disease. According to The Animal Trust, classic early signs include:
– Excessive need to drink – Increased urination – Weight loss despite normal or increased appetite
As the disease progresses, the following symptoms may appear:
– Loss of appetite – lack of energy – lethargy – vomiting – vision problems and lens clouding
If you notice any of these signs, please contact your veterinarian. He will probably do tests to make an accurate diagnosis.
IMPORTANT: Once diabetes is diagnosed, it is important that your dog is monitored regularly. Your veterinarian will check your dog's blood sugar levels and adjust medication accordingly to keep your dog stable.
Treatment and the importance of diet
Although diabetes mellitus cannot be cured, the PDSA ares pet owners that canine diabetes is manageable with insulin, exercise and the right diet.
A balanced diet is the key factor in managing diabetes and keeping your dog healthy overall. If your dog has diabetes, it is even more important to consistently feed him the right dog food. Food prescribed by the vet with a consistent nutrient composition helps to keep your dog's metabolism stable so that he stays healthy.
Fiber is especially important in the management of this disease because moderate to high fiber levels can reduce insulin requirements and blood sugar levels. Fiber also makes the body more receptive to insulin.
Routine is the key, so feeding, exercise and, if necessary, medication should always take place at the same time each day. This helps to keep blood glucose levels constant. Your veterinarian and health care team will advise you.