Diabetes in dogs can be just as serious as it is in humans. Your pet may have a significant number of health problems if this condition, often referred to as the “silent killer”, is left untreated.
Dog diabetes basically occurs as one of three types: mellitus, insipidus (“water diabetes”), and gestational.
- The most common and most dangerous type of diabetes that dogs can acquire is diabetes mellitus where the dog does not produce enough insulin to keep glucose levels under control.
- Diabetes insipidus is a condition characterized by your dog’s inability to retain water. The condition is caused by kidney disease, kidney trauma, congenital defect, or medications.
- The last form of canine diabetes is the gestational variety which occurs in female dogs during pregnancy.
What Dogs Get Diabetes?
The characteristics of dogs that are more prone to diabetes include:
- Mixed breeds rather than purebreds
- Larger breeds more than smaller breeds
- Females or neutered males (twice as common in females as in males)
- Overweight dogs
- Middle-aged or older (average age 5 years; peak years 7 – 9 years)
- Dogs on high fat diet as opposed to high fiber diet
What Are The Symptoms?
Some of the symptoms of this disease in dogs are very similar to the symptoms people experience.
Excessive water consumption is one of the most frequent symptoms, caused by the overproduction of glucose. Increased urination may also occur which is often a result of drinking more water than normal. An unexplained weight gain or adversely, weight loss despite increased appetite, can also signify that there is something wrong.
Lethargy is another one of the more noticeable symptoms. If you observe this behavior, you should not assume that your dog is just being lazy; there could be something seriously wrong.
How Can I Help My Dog?
There are a number of treatments available once the disease is diagnosed. The important thing is to be able to identify the signs and get your dog started on treatment at an early stage which can prevent the occurrence of additional system malfunctions like heart ailments, pancreatic failure or other medical problems.
- The main treatment for diabetes mellitus is a daily or twice a day injection of insulin.
- Diabetes insipidus is typically treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and diuretics.
- Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the female has given birth to her litter.
Similar to human diabetes, diabetes in dogs can often be reversed through dietary control and even weight loss. If a dog gains too much weight, his pancreas is no longer able to produce the right levels of insulin. Once the dog starts to lose weight, the blood sugar may come back under control.
A diet high in fiber and protein and low in fats and carbohydrates is recommended. There are prescription dog foods available for dogs with diabetes, or you can make up his food yourself based on a diet developed by a veterinary nutritionist. You should also make sure that he is not getting snacks throughout the day, and that no one in the family slips him “people food”.
Daily exercise is another important component of treatment. This can lower blood glucose levels at the same time that it helps to maintain your dog’s optimum weight. The exercise should be performed at consistent levels of endurance and duration.
In many cases, dog diabetes is treated with insulin. The therapy starts at home and then the dog revisits the vet for blood sugar tests to see how the diabetes management program is going. Often a dog will stay under observation for 24 hours to observe the peaks and low points of their blood glucose. Once the insulin is calculated correctly, the treatments can resume at home.
Although there is no cure for dog diabetes, it can be managed with insulin injections, changes in diet and exercise. By learning what symptoms to watch out for and being diligent in managing this disease, your dog will live a long, healthy life!