By Karen A. Soukiasian
There are two types of canine diabetes: diabetes insipidus, also referred to as juvenile diabetes and diabetes mellitus. Diabetes insipidus is more commonly found in puppies and younger dogs. It is a lack of vasopressin, an anti-diuretic, that controls the kidney’s ability to absorb water.
Diabetes mellitus is more often found in dogs a bit older, and is the more serious of the two types.
Diabetes can be found in 1 out of every 200 dogs. There is no cure. It is usually hereditary. It must be diagnosed, controlled, and maintained as it is life threatening.
WHAT IS CANINE DIABETES?
It is a disease of your dog’s endocrine system. It is a disorder of the metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrate due to insulin deficiency. When the pancreas cannot produce enough natural insulin to regulates the absorption and utilization of glucose (sugar) you will have either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar, often caused by the wrong treats/food or missed meals.
Hyperglycemia is high blood sugar, normally caused by missed insulin, too much food, and/or lessened exercise.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, which helps balance your dog’s blood sugar. If their body doesn’t produce it or enough of it, it needs it from an outside source.
Most commonly found in dogs between the ages of 5-9 years, diabetes mellitus is often found in overweight dogs, unsprayed females, and as a rule because it is hereditary; there are higher occurrences in certain breeds.
Another excellent reason to spay your female, it eliminates the interaction between female hormones with the blood sugar levels, reducing their chances of getting diabetes.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The most common signs and symptoms to watch for are: excess thirst, more frequent urination, dehydration, increased appetite, yet sudden weight loss, lethargy, depression, rapid breathing, vomiting, sweet, acetone smelling breath, frequent urinary tract infections, cataracts, enlarged liver, blindness, and coma.
Remember, this is a life threatening disease.
The sweet smell of acetone in your dog’s breath is a common sign of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when there are elevated levels of ketones, which are toxic acids. They are the breakdown product caused when your dog’s body burns fat as a source of energy for their muscles.
Do not be deceived into a false sense of security, because your dog’s appetite appears to have increased. What is happening is, the glucose is not making it to their brain, so their brain is getting the message they are always hungry.
Another complication of the disease is the auto-immune problems, causing function failure of other vital organs. These changes must be monitored and reported to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
DIAGNOSING AND TESTING
To make a diagnosis, your veterinarian at a minimum, will perform blood and urine tests to measure glucose levels.
Should diabetes is found, certain changes will have to be made and schedules strictly followed. They include stringently scheduled and portioned high fiber/protein meals. The same would hold true for exercise and insulin shots.
If your dog is overweight, a weight reduction program would be started, including portion control, type of food control and scheduled exercises to reduce your pet to an ideal weight.
Most likely, your veterinarian will place your pet on a high fiber and protein diet. Fats and carbohydrates will be restricted or eliminated. A regularly scheduled exercise program must be adhered to, with at least one 20-30 minutes session per day, to control the ups and down of your dog’s blood sugar.
Regular check-ups, urine and blood tests are also essential. Any changes you note should be immediately reported to your veterinarian.
BREEDS PREDISPOSED TO DIABETES
No breed is spared from getting canine diabetes. However, as the disease is most often hereditary, the following are the breeds it is most often found in; they include, but are not limited to: Keeshhond, Dachshunds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Samoyed, German Shepherds, Schnauzers, Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, Beagles, Bichon Frise, and Border Collies.
If your dog has canine diabetes, do not perpetuate the disease! Do the right thing. Neuter or spay your pet.
Bottom Line: Canine Diabetes is serious and life threatening. Sadly, there is no cure. If left untreated, your dog will suffer unnecessarily. If diagnosed early, treated properly, and you commit to following schedules, you can extend the time you will share and enjoy your dog’s companionship.
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