There are some extremely common canine diseases we’ve heard of a million times: hot spots, scabies, distemper, etc. But then there are other diseases that, somehow in our heads, we only relate to people. Diabetes is one of them. Unfortunately, diabetes in dogs is more common than one might think, and getting acquainted with its symptoms and treatments is vital for proper pet care.
What happens when a dog suffers from diabetes?
When a dog suffers from diabetes it means his pancreas is not producing enough (or in some cases any) insulin, or his body is not responding well to the hormone. What is insulin? Insulin is an essential hormone produced by the pancreas, and its main function is to control and stabilize body sugar levels, by using up the energy from carbohydrates in food.
To put it in simple words: when there isn’t enough insulin, the body has no energy because it is deprived of glucose, its main source of food.
Depending on its type, diabetes can be an autoimmune disease, and it usually develops when the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells, confusing them with potential external danger. However, in fewer cases, diabetes can develop as a result of previous pancreatitis or a metabolic disorder.
Although dogs can develop three types of diabetes, they usually experience diabetes type I, very rarely type II, and hardly ever type III)
When insulin is not working, dogs can develop diverse symptoms.
Symptoms of diabetes in dogs
- Weight loss
- Increased thirst, resulting in frequent urination
- Low energy
- Increased hunger
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Sweet breath smelling
If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to take him to the vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, diabetes can represent a severe health problem.
Why do dogs get diabetes?
As we’ve already mentioned, diabetes in dogs is usually considered an autoimmune disease, so there is not much you can do to prevent it.
However, there are some breeds that are more prone to develop diabetes than others, as is the case with Miniature Schnauzers, Australian Terriers, Samoyeds, Pugs, Dachshunds, and Bichon Fraises, among others.
Even though diabetes is more common in middle-aged and older dogs, as well as in female dogs, the genetic factor plays the main role in developing the disease, so it is very important to keep an eye on those particular breeds.
How to prevent diabetes in dogs?
Unfortunately, there is little pet parents can do to prevent this disease from developing. Most dogs before getting diabetes were perfectly healthy and showed no health problems. However, specialists recommend spaying female dogs to decrease the possibility of developing diabetes.
In addition, dogs with a history of pancreatitis should implement a low-fat diet as it may help prevent the interruption of insulin production.
Treatment of diabetes in dogs
Depending on the diabetes type and the progression of the disease, the treatment will vary. Some dogs might require hospitalization to get insulin regulation, while others may only need to start the treatment at home.
Usually, dogs with diabetes need two insulin injections per day, and a controlled strict diet, to prevent an insulin peak. When a dog has been recently diagnosed, regular check-ups will be required, to assess if the medication is working properly and your dog’s body reaction to it.
If your dog is still showing symptoms like changes in his appetite or thirst, you should contact the vet immediately to run some more tests, as it is possible that the medication may not be working properly.
Information is power. Don’t panic: Diabetes is a chronic disease many dogs live with, and as long as it is treated, it is completely manageable.