What Is Diabetes In Dogs?
The key to understanding Diabetes is to know that it is basically a deficiency of insulin. The primary role of insulin is getting energy into the cell. Without it, sugar builds up in the blood and is secreted while the cells are starving for it.
There are two types of diabetes, one that is dependent on insulin and the other that isn't. Most of the time, dogs will develop the kind that needs insulin. Insulin is essential for a lot of things in the body, including metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Predisposition in Dogs
Breeds that have a tendency to develop Diabetes include the Keeshounds, Pulis, Cairn terriers, miniatures pinchers, miniature poodles, miniature schnauzers, beagles and dachshunds. Obesity, prolonged use of glucocorticoids and problems associated with the pancreas also predisposes to Diabetes. It's most common in middle-aged dogs.
Signs of Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes in dogs has many symptoms including drinking a lot of water and frequent urination. The dog is constantly hungry but loses weight. This is very deceiving, because hte dog is actually drinking and eating more than usual or more than other dogs. Most people will not consult a veterinarian because of these symptoms. The dog also develops more skin, bladder and kidney infections. They can also develop cataracts; especially characteristic are cataracts that form quickly.
Dogs may become decompensated, meaning that they get worse and their symptoms get worse. Dogs that are losing weight and need energy will start to burn fat and the liver has to process this and it produces more ketones. This can lower the blood pH to levels that are very dangerous to the animal and even life threatening. Symptoms of this include vomiting and depression.
Diagnosing Diabetic Dogs
Diabetes is diagnosed with blood and urine testing. Blood testing is used to look at blood sugar and it can also tell if other organs are having problems. Urine testing is also used in conjunction with the blood, also looking for the amount of sugar present. It can also tell the vet if ketones are present.
Treating the Diabetic Dog
Diabetic dogs are treated with insulin injections, similar to humans. It can be given once or twice a day depending on the type of insulin and the needs of the dog. There are three types of insulin, the short-acting kind, the long-acting kind and one in between. The amount of insulin and how many times it is given is determined by a test performed by your veterinarian. He will collect very small amounts of blood every 1 to 2 hours and dose if for sugar. The vet will then plot it on a graph and this is called an insulin-glucose response curve. This will determine dog's individual blood sugar levels and the dog's individual response to insulin. It is extremely important that you get training from your veterinarian in caring for your diabetic dog. Variations in dosage should be undertaken with extreme caution because an overdose can lead to death. If the dog is decompensated and showing more severe symptoms, the symptoms need to be treated and the dog provided with support.
Diabetic dogs can lead almost normal lives. They do require a bit more work than other dogs, but it is well worth it to have your canine friend with you for many more years of happiness. Like in humans, diabetes in dogs can be managed with the right care.