Diabetes in Dogs: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Them HealthyReading Time: 5 minutes
The key to managing diabetes in dogs is early detection, proper care, and a better understanding of this illness and how it works.
While no pet owner ever wants their pet to get sick, unfortunately, dogs and cats do get ill from time-to-time.
One of the many illnesses that impact dogs today is diabetes.
Much like diabetes in humans, the earlier you can catch this condition, the better, and while it may change lives it is possible for your canine companion to live comfortably with this disease, under proper management.
What is Diabetes?
If your dog gets diagnosed with diabetes, chances are you will have a number of questions swirling around in your head.
The most important thing to understand first is exactly what diabetes is and what it means in dogs.
Diabetes is actually a rather complex disease that is caused by either a lack of insulin (which is an important hormone) or the bodies inability to respond properly to insulin in the body.
Type 1 Diabetes- Means a lack of insulin production. This is the most common form of diabetes in dogs and cats.
Type II Diabetes- Means an inability to respond to the insulin production. Insulin production is also impaired in dogs with this condition.
When insulin isn’t doing its job in the body, a dog’s blood sugar will level which results in hyperglycemia, and if left unattended, a number of other serious health complications, especially with the pancreas.
Here is a List of the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs:
Spotting diabetes in dogs early is essential for your doggo’s quality of life and overall well-being.
So, how exactly do you spot diabetes in dogs? Here is a list of the most common symptoms to be on the lookout for.
- Excessive thirst
- Urinating more often
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in appetite
- Dehydration even with increased water intake
- Frequent UTIs
- Sweet smelling breath
- Low energy levels
- Unexplained vomiting
- Cataract formation
If you notice any or a few of these symptoms in your pet, it is important that they go to the vet right away. Your vet will be able to do simple blood and urine tests to check for diabetes and examine your dog’s blood glucose level.
Why it’s Important to Spot the Early Signs of Diabetes in Dogs
The key to helping your dog live with diabetes is to spot this condition as early as possible.
The earlier your dog is able to get help, the better quality of life he can enjoy.
When a dog has diabetes, his cells are actually being starved for the energy and fuel that it needs to keep its organs and muscles working properly.
This paired with the high sugar levels in the bloodstream will ultimately damage many of the organs in your pet’s body causing serious issues with the eyes (such as cataracts and cataract surgery), heart, kidneys, pancreas blood vessels and nerves.
Dogs with insulin resistance in diabetes, are also at a higher risk of getting Cushing disease.
An Early Diagnosis Can Mean a Longer Healthier Life for Your Dog and Their Body
Unfortunately, diabetes can’t be cured.
However, it can be managed with treatments once it is diagnosed. If diabetes in dogs is left untreated, it can result in cataracts, blindness, amputations, seizures, kidney failure or ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition associated with low-insulin levels.
The sooner you are able to check your pet’s blood glucose levels and diagnose diabetes in dogs, the less likely he is to suffer these serious health consequences and the longer, healthier life he can live.
Thank You, Science! Treating Diabetes in Dogs with Modern Medicine
Only a few years ago, a dog diagnosed with diabetes wouldn’t have a very good prognosis.
However, thanks to the advancements in modern medicine, dogs are now able to enjoy some of the same treatments that have helped humans live with this disease.
Similar to human diabetes, pet owners will also need to measure their dog’s blood sugar level, which can be done at home or on a trip to your veterinarian.
One of the first things that most vets will recommend when it comes to treating diabetes is a new diet and exercise plans.
Diets are usually high in proteins, fiber and complex carbs to help slow down the body’s glucose absorption. Most dogs will also need to be a low-fat diet.
Dogs with diabetes should also start a new exercise plan that includes moderate, but consistent exercise.
Finally, thanks to modern medicine, diabetes in dogs can also get better with daily insulin shots under the skin, that their owners can administer right at home.
Insulin Injection? The Cost of a Diabetic Dog
Much like with humans, insulin injections are one of the most common treatments given to dogs with diabetes.
While these dog insulin injections can help keep your pet’s levels stable, they do come at a cost.
Every dog, vet and care plan is different. There are different types of insulin available for dogs, and each owner should plan on doing some shopping to find an insulin product that not only works for their dogs but one that works with their budget. Your veterinarian may also be able to find you generic injections.
Most pet owners can expect to pay between $90-$150 per month for their insulin therapy treatments.
Diabetes in Insipidus Dogs
Most dogs have either Type 1 or Type II diabetes, but there is also another type of rare diabetes known as Diabetes Insipidus or DI.
This is not related to traditional diabetes, even though they share a moniker.
What is Diabetes Insipidus (DI)?
Diabetes Insipidus, or Nephrogenic Diabetes Inspidius, is a disorder that impacts water metabolism in dogs.
Canines who have this condition have issues conserving water and ultimately release too much of it from the body. Much like standard diabetes or diabetes mellitus, one of the main symptoms of DI is increased thirst. However, with DI, pets will also have excessive increased urination and a very dilute or insipid type of urine.
Diabetes Insipidus is typically caused by a congenital defect, trauma or cancer, although in some cases the cause is entirely unknown.
Diabetes Mellitus vs Diabetes Insipidus: What’s the Difference?
These two diseases are extremely different, despite the similarity in their name.
Diabetes Insipidus, or water diabetes, impacts your dog’s ability to hold in and manage water, while diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes, impacts your dog’s ability to maintain proper blood sugar levels.
Diabetes Insipidus is very rare, but if your pet is diagnosed with this condition, regular eye drops or under-the-skin injections can help manage this disease. Like insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, this form of diabetes is also not curable.
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4 Ways to Keep Canine Diabetes at Bay for Your Pet
Knowing how to spot diabetes in your pet is great, but knowing how to prevent diabetes from ever happening in the first place is even better.
While there are no guarantees with animals, here are a few ways pet owners can help lessen their canine’s chances of getting this disease.
1. Spay Your Pets. There are a number of great benefits of spaying your dogs. Unspayed female dogs are actually twice as likely to get adult-onset diabetes as male dogs.
2. Help Your Pet Maintain a Healthy Weight. Even though weight loss is a common side effect of diabetes, obesity is a major contributor to insulin resistance in dogs. Obesity can also increase your dog’s chances of having pancreatitis, which also leads to diabetes. In short, help your dog eat proportioned meals and stay active and they will have a lower chance of getting diabetes.
3. Take Your Dog in For Regular Checkups. Dogs are really good at masking symptoms when they don’t feel well. With this in mind, you may not notice the subtle changes in your dog that are early indicators of diabetes. Taking your dog in for regular checkups is a great way to get a professional look at your dog’s health.
4. Invest in a High-Quality Food. Talk to your vet about some of the best foods out there for your pet. Cheap foods are often filled with chemicals, sugars, and fats that can only increase your dog’s chances of developing diabetes. A healthy diet not only includes a quality food but healthy treats and even plenty of vet-approved fruits and veggies. Your vet may even be able to help you with a special diabetic dog food.
High Levels of Glucose in Blood? Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs is Not a Death Sentence
When your dog has high levels of glucose in their blood, it is known as diabetes mellitus. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this type of diabetes.
While it can be overwhelming to know your pet is sick, it is not a death sentence for your pet.
Dogs who battle with this condition for a long time can, in some cases, ultimately succumb to this disease because of the serious organ damage it can cause. However, the average pet whose owner spots the symptoms and gets them the care they need right away can live a normal lifespan with their condition.
The best thing you can do for diabetes in dogs is to stay positive, listen to your vet and stay on top of your dog’s care to make sure he has the best chances for a healthy life.
With the Correct Monitoring and Management, Your Doggo Can Live a Long and Happy Life!
Nothing is as heartbreaking as hearing your beloved pet is sick, and while having a dog with diabetes will mean a number of changes in you and your pet’s life, it is still possible for your dog to live a long and happy life with this condition.
With proper monitoring and management, along with regular check-ups with your vet, diabetes in dogs won’t stop your pup from living a healthy, pain-free life he deserves.
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