One of the leading causes of death in humans is diabetes. Surprisingly, our furry pets can also develop the same. In time for National Pet Diabetes Month this November to increase awareness on the debilitating disease, we will talk about diabetes in dogs, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
Since 2011, there has been roughly 32% increase in diagnosed diabetes among canines. Complete understanding of the diabetic symptoms for your dogs is essential. When diabetes is left untreated, it could be fatal.
It is, therefore, important to know the symptoms to determine how to properly care for a diabetic dog. Just like in humans, there is a need to constantly check the blood sugar using home monitoring devices, which are particularly calibrated for pets. Aside from consulting your veterinarian about diabetes in dogs, you also need to read up on the issue.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is an endocrine disorder wherein the individual/pet is incapable of producing the hormone insulin or has an inadequate response to insulin. Since the body needs to have the right balance of hormones in the body, absence of such hormone for the body to perform normal function may require medication as well as the right diet.
When a dog is unable to produce enough insulin after the breakdown of food into various components, his blood sugar levels will elevate resulting in a condition called hyperglycemia. If this is left untreated, it may cause serious health complications to your dog.
Diabetes is considered a manageable disorder, and so complete awareness of how to properly manage diabetes in dogs is of utmost importance.
Types of Diabetes in Dogs
There are two types of diabetes that may be found in your canine pets: Type I Diabetes (or inadequate insulin production), and Type II Diabetes (or impaired insulin production and inadequate response to the hormone).
Type I diabetes is most commonly found in dogs. This occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce or secrete sufficient levels of insulin. Dogs who have this type of diabetes is required to go through insulin therapy in order to survive.
Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
More often than not, pet owners may feel happy feeding their dogs all the time since they know that their pets will gladly consume everything given to them. However, excessive feeding may take its toll on your dog’s health. Therefore, it is necessary for you to be aware of the signs, so that you can determine if your dog is suffering from diabetes.
Indicators that your dog has diabetes include the following:
- Cataract formation, blindness
- Chronic skin infections
- Cloudy eyes
- Polydipsia (increased intake of water)
- Polyphagia (increased food intake, as if the dog feels always hungry)
- Polyuria (frequent urination)
- Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
- Urinary tract infections
- Weight loss
Causes of Diabetes
The real cause of diabetes is unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that may contribute to the development of diabetes, such as:
In this scenario, the body is attacked by its own tissues and destroys it. That being said, the body is unable to produce insulin, which can lead to diabetes. This may be triggered by several factors, such as drugs, food, infection, toxins, and vaccinations.
Breed or genetics
Some breeds are predisposed to having diabetes. Some of these breeds include:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Cairn Terrier
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- Finnish Spitz
- German Shepherd Dog
- Golden Retriever
- Hungarian Puli
- Labrador Retriever
- Miniature Pinscher
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Old English Sheepdog
- Springer Spaniel
- Tibetan Terrier
- West Highland White Terrier
There is a need to strictly follow a diet prescribed by the veterinarian, so that there is a balance of the necessary nutrients that your dogs need. Feeding them more than the necessary amount may affect the normal functioning of the body.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
GMOs may contain toxins that can be harmful to your dog. These include certain dog treats (corn and soy that are genetically engineered), such as kibbles contain GMOs.
The most common type of inflammation in diabetic dogs leads to pancreatitis. Failing to address diabetes in dogs may worsen the risk of inflammation and may bring more diseases into your dog’s life.
This broad category of risk factors is observed more in obese dogs who may develop insulin resistance. This syndrome may carry along fluctuations in lipid profile, glucose intolerance, and vascular inflammation.
More than half of pet dogs are overweight. Why do you think this happens? It is mainly caused by the pet owners themselves who love feeding their pets whenever they get the chance.
Remember that excess weight in dogs will not only lead to diabetes, but also other health conditions including heart problems, arthritis, and skin problems.
Pancreatitis destroys the beta cells in the pancreas, the organ responsible for producing insulin. The most common cause of pancreatitis in dogs is dietary fat.
Aflatoxin molds have been found to be a serious threat that may lead to diabetes. Plastic food containers may also be a contributing factor, since the material used in making them are highly toxic.
While vaccines are essential to ensure that your dog remains healthy and free from certain diseases, administering vaccines more than necessary may have a negative impact on your dog’s health, particularly in the risk of diabetes.
To keep your dog always healthy and away from the risk of diabetes, you can do the following:
- Avoid feeding canned food to your dogs.
- Avoid giving your dog too much sugar and starch.
- Always provide a balanced diet. As much as possible, only feed your dog with food designed for them. Although you may see your dog enjoying human food, these do not contain the right amount of nutrients that they need.
- Do not overfeed your dog.
- Let your dog be physically active.
- Just like in humans, essential oils and flower essences may help reduce stress and calm your dog.
Diabetes Management for your Dogs
If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, the treatment plan will include:
- Insulin therapy
- Diet modification
- Blood glucose monitoring: A stable diabetic dog should have a blood glucose range of about 5 -12 mmol/l (90-216 mg/dl) for most of a 24-hour period.
When these are done regularly and efficiently, then you’ll be able to provide a better quality of life for your diabetic pet.
Any pet owner will naturally want to see their dogs healthy and strong, so that they can enjoy each other’s company for a long time. However, when life throws your dog a curve, you should be able to provide all the support that your dog needs. By having the right knowledge on how to manage diabetes in dogs, a better outcome is bound to happen.