Do you notice your usually active pet dog lethargic and extremely thirsty? Has your dog lost a lot of weight? Has he become a very picky eater? Is he suffering from vomiting and dehydration?
If you answer yes to all these questions, then there is a great likelihood that your pet has diabetes. Don’t worry though, as diabetes in dogs is a manageable disorder. Your dog can still be active and healthy despite having diabetes, especially if the disease is diagnosed and treated right away.
Still, diabetes in dogs is considered a complex disease. It may be due to the lack of insulin, or the dog’s inability to respond to the hormone. A dog’s digestive system breaks food into different components such as glucose which is brought into the cells by the hormone insulin that is secreted by the pancreas.
Now when your dog cannot utilize insulin normally, or fails to produce an adequate level of the hormone, the blood sugar levels rises. This results to hyperglycemia. When left untreated, it can lead to different health problems.
Like in humans, diabetes in dogs can be classified into two—Type 1 which pertains to lack of insulin production, and Type II which is characterized by reduced insulin production and inadequate reaction to the said hormone.
The former is the most common form of diabetes in dogs. In case your dog is diagnosed to have Type 1 diabetes, it needs insulin therapy to live.
So what are the other symptoms of diabetes in dogs?
Aside from those mentioned earlier, symptoms of diabetes in dogs include increased urination, blindness, , and chronic skin infections. Your dog may also emit a sweet-smelling breath.
Another symptom of diabetes in dogs is thinning or dry hair, particularly along the back. You must also know that thinning or dry hair is a symptom of other dog illnesses, thus you may want to see a veterinarian to confirm the real cause.
If you notice your dog having cloudy eyes, then the pet may have cataract, yet another sign of diabetes.
When you notice these symptoms, it’s recommended that you bring your dog to a veterinarian in the soonest time possible. If the disease progresses without being treated, secondary health problems like urinary tract infection and cataracts may follow.
Which Dog Breeds are at Risk?
There are certain dog breeds that have an increased risk of developing canine diabetes. These include beagle, poodles, chow chow, Alaskan malamute, Doberman, and Labrador retriever.
Also, dog breeds such as Hungarian puli, Daschund, Samoyed, Keeshond, miniature pinscher, cairn terrier, Finnish spitz, West highland white terrier, and Old English sheepdog are known to be at high risk of diabetes.
This is not to say that you don’t need to see a veterinarian if your dog does not belong to the aforementioned breeds. You would still have to bring your dog to a veterinarian when you observe that your pet exhibits the diabetes symptoms mentioned above.
Also, obese dogs as well as female dogs are at greater risk of having canine diabetes as they get older.
Diagnosis of canine diabetes is simple. The veterinarian will conduct a physical examination to see whether your dog indeed has canine diabetes symptoms. The specialist will then take urine samples to see if there is glucose in the urine. He or she will also take a blood sample to determine if there is sugar concentration in the blood of the dog.
The normal blood sugar levels in dogs range from 80 to 120. If the blood sugar concentration is higher than those levels, the pancreas of your dog may not be secreting insulin.
The goal of a canine diabetes treatment program is to keep the dog’s blood sugar levels as close to normal as much as possible.
Treatment of canine diabetes usually includes balancing of the dog’s food and liquid appetite. This is due to obesity being one of the main risk factors of the disease. Usually, veterinarians want the disease-stricken dog to reach its target or ideal weight in two to three months. In case your dog has lost weight, the veterinarian would work out a diet plan intended to bring its weight to normal levels.
Normally, part of the diet plan for diabetic dogs would be the elimination of moist foods. Wet dog foods can cause the accumulation of sugar in the body. The veterinarian would tell you which foods you can buy from petcare service providers like Petsmart and Petco that are safe for your diabetic pet.
Diabetic dogs also need insulin treatments. Dogs with diabetes would need one or more insulin injections per day to go along with the change in diet. Veterinarians also recommend a daily exercise program to keep the dog’s weight in check.