DIABETES IN DOGS
Diabetes is a chronic disease found in humans. But recent studies have shown that diabetes is not just limited to us. It's found in dogs, cats and other animals including apes, pigs, and horses. It is an incurable disease although it can be managed and kept under control with proper care. Out of all, the most common type of diabetes that occurs in dogs is Diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes. It affects their metabolism. For the unknown, metabolism is the way and rate at which the body converts food to energy.
Let's discuss briefly, what diabetes is and how does it affect our furry babies.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a malfunction of glucose and insulin in the body of a dog. Diabetes found in dogs are of two types:
• Insulin-deficiency diabetes:
This type of diabetes happens when the dog’s body isn’t producing enough insulin. This occurs when the pancreas is damaged or not functioning. Daily shots are necessary to replace the missing or insufficient insulin. This is the most common type of diabetes in dogs.
This is when the dog's body isn't utilizing the insulin produced by the pancreas as it is supposed to. The cells are failing to absorb glucose from the blood. This type of diabetes is seen in older or obese dogs. Female dogs too tend to develop resistance to insulin when in heat or pregnant.
The Role of Glucose & Insulin:
• Glucose: is a vital fuel for the body’s cells. After digestion, some nutrients are broken down into glucose by the body. Glucose is the source of energy for certain cells in the body and organs. Post digestion, Glucose absorbed in the blood is transported throughout the body.
• Insulin:is in charge of delivering glucose. Pancreas release the hormone - insulin into the body. Insulin tells cells to grab glucose and other nutrients out of the bloodstream to use them as energy.
How to tell if your dog has diabetes?
If you are keen enough, you may be able to spot some symptoms of early stages of diabetes in dogs:
•Increased thirst: Your dog may start drinking more and more water.
•Increased urine: Your dog may frequently ask to be let outside or for numerous loo breaks. Both these symptoms are a result of passing out extra sugar with water in the form of urine.
•Weight loss:Your dog can lose weight despite eating regular portions. As the dog isn’t efficiently converting nutrients from its diet, it may lose weight despite eating normal portions.
•Increased appetite:As the body is not getting enough glucose, the dog might be hungry always and may lead to them eating more than usual.
Advanced signs: At a more advanced stage of diabetes, symptoms can vary and become more noticeable, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Depressed attitude
- Lack of energy
Don't go about overthinking about your dog showing some signs of the disease. Contact your veterinary doctor, they are skilled enough to check for diabetes using simple tests to check the glucose levels in your dogs' blood and urine. Blood tests will also reveal other signs such as high liver enzymes and electrolytic imbalances that indicate diabetes. Early detection will only help result in earlier treatment, thus improving the chances of the dog having a normal life.
Damage caused by diabetes:
Health threats: Diabetes if not detected early may lead to harmful effects on a dog's body. Early detection and immediate treatment are key when it comes to diabetes. Neglecting the symptoms may lead to devastating complications, such as:
- Cataracts, which may result in blindness
- Kidney failure
- Urinary tract infections
- Enlarged liver
No matter the type, the effects on the body are equally negative. Excess sugar gets built in the dog's blood and the cells are not able to benefit from it due to lack of insulin. Critical consequences of diabetes include the cells breaking down fats and proteins to replace its need for glucose as fuel for energy. In other cases, organs are damaged because of the high sugar levels in the blood. As there is no insulin to convert the glucose in the blood to fuel, this sugar reaches organs and acts as a poison causing multiple organ damage. Diabetes severely affects kidneys, eyes, heart, blood vessels and/or nerves.
What Factors Create a Risk for Diabetes in Dogs?
- Chronic or repeated pancreatitis.
- Steroid medications.
- Cushing’s disease.
- Other health conditions.
Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs
Diet: A veterinarian is the best suited to guide you on the optimum diet for your diabetic dog. Usually, a diabetic dog's food includes high-quality protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates that will reduce glucose absorption.
Exercise: Regular exercise will help keep the sudden spike or drop of glucose levels in check.
Injections: Daily shots of insulin injected in the body is something you as a pet parent would have to learn.
Monitoring and Managing Your Dog’s Diabetes
Although there are some exceptions, diabetes in dogs can be managed successfully without complications. You play a pivotal role in their care and your commitment to keeping up with their daily shots and monitoring daily glucose levels is of utmost importance.
Your veterinary doctor would probably cook up a diabetes management plan around these instructions:
- diet and regular exercise recommendations
- insulin medication for your dog and how to administer injections
- daily monitoring of blood glucose for your dog
- keeping an eye out for any suspicious signs
We would just like to inform you that here's no reason to create a huge frenzy if your pet gets diagnosed with diabetes. With early diagnosis and proper monitoring and medication, we are sure you both shall succeed in this fight and continue leading a happy life.