Diabetes is an endocrine disorder that can develop in dogs as they grow older. Senior dogs are more likely to become diabetic than puppies. Female dogs can develop diabetes during pregnancy and heat cycle.
Research studies show that some dog breeds are at greater risk of developing diabetes. The following are dog breeds prone to diabetes:
- Cairn terrier
- Miniature pinscher
- Miniature schnauzer
- Australian terrier
Researchers surmise that the onset and development of diabetes may have a genetic component. It is estimated that 50 per cent of canine patients diagnosed with pancreatic damage may be caused by hereditary or environmental factors. About 20 per cent of diabetic dogs suffers from insulin resistance.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is the medical term for diabetes. Mellitus in Latin means ‘honeyed or sweet’ resembling the high sugar levels produced in urine and blood. It arises when the body does not produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar levels. If left untreated, diabetes can be a serious condition in dogs.
There are two main types of diabetes that occur in dogs:
- Type 1 diabetes is also called insulin-deficient diabetes. This is when the dog’s pancreas is not producing enough insulin. This is said to be the most common type of diabetes in dogs.
- Type 2 diabetes is the insulin-resistant diabetes. In this type, the pancreas is producing insulin but the body is not utilising the insulin as it should. The cells’ inability to respond to the insulin’s function results in the excess of unused glucose. This is said to occur mostly in older dogs and obese dogs. Female dogs can also temporarily develop insulin resistance when in heat or pregnant.
Dog diabetes symptoms
It is crucial to pay attention when there is a sudden change in your dog’s behaviour. Keep an eye on your pooch when it displays the following symptoms:
- Excessive thirst: Frequency of water intake. Water bowl is always empty.
- Increased urination: The dog will need to urinate frequently as the body attempts to get rid of the excess sugar.
- Weight loss: Despite the normal food intake, your canine loses weight. It is a way of telling you that there is something unusual occurring in your dog’s body.
- Cloudy eyes or eye redness: Diabetes leads to cataracts.
- Lack of energy: Look out for signs of lethargy and lack of interest in activities.
- Vomiting: Throwing up can be a sign of complicated canine diabetes.
Dog diabetes treatment options
Dog diabetes requires lifelong treatment. Monitoring your dog’s diet is a way of easing diabetes. One misconception about diabetes is feeding a high-fibre/low-fat diet. Though this is effective for type 2 diabetes, it isn’t suitable for type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes does not necessarily develop because of obesity.
For dogs that have type 1 diabetes, there is no standard diet but dogs must follow a strict mealtime schedule to avoid complications. It is also important to make your dog enjoy eating food.
It is recommended to feed your dog the same amount of food at the same time every day to monitor its glucose level. Spikes in carbohydrate intake will affect the amount of insulin he requires. If the glucose level becomes too low, give your dog snacks in between meals.
Things to consider in dog diabetes diet
- Make sure your dog willingly eats meals.
- Most diabetic dogs are adults, hence they eat only twice a day. Meals should be twelve hours apart.
- They do not necessarily require a low-fat diet.
- Modify your dog’s diet based on other conditions such as pancreatitis and kidney disease.
Another natural treatment method is exercise. It helps when you strictly follow an exercise routine. This helps maintain a normal glucose level.
Insulin injections might be needed depending on the severity of the condition. It is best to consult a veterinarian for the exact dosage and the proper way to administer the insulin injection.
Dog diabetes life expectancy
With proper treatment and monitoring, the life expectancy of a diabetic dog can be the same as that of a healthy dog. The risk is high during treatment in the first six months. Your dog may need to undergo insulin therapy if the condition worsens. Diabetic dogs are also prone to infections, kidney failure, or liver/pancreatic disorder.
On a positive note, once their condition has stabilised, they can lead happy and active lives. It is very important to have your canine diagnosed as early as possible when he starts to exhibit symptoms of diabetes.
Learn more about pet health here.