Researchers estimate that one in 200 dogs will develop diabetes. Fortunately, treatment has made huge advancements in recent years, and as a result, dogs with diabetes are living longer, healthier lives.
If your dog’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, your pet could develop diabetes. Insulin normally allows glucose from your dog’s food to be used for energy and growth, but without insulin, glucose can no longer leave your dog’s bloodstream, and that means your pet’s levels of blood sugar will rise. Diabetes is not curable, but it is treatable; a dog with diabetes can still live many happy years after diagnosis.
What are the risk factors?
Several factors raise a dog’s risk of developing diabetes. These include breed, age, gender, weight, diet, and virus infections. A study published in the Veterinary Journal in 2003 examined diabetes rates in thousands of American dogs and found that overall, mixed-breed dogs were more prone to diabetes than purebreds. Among purebreds, breeds varied greatly in their susceptibility.
What are the signs?
A dog with diabetes may show some of the following signs:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urinating
- Weight loss,
- Changes in its appetite
- Deteriorating coat
- General lack of energy.
- Genetic predisposition is also a likely cause, since some breeds seem to be predisposed to diabetes, and dogs that have diabetes often also have relatives with it.
What is the diagnosis?
Your vet should take a detailed medical history from you of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms and details of the exact symptoms. They will then conduct a urinalysis to see if there’s an unusually high amount of glucose in the blood and urine. X-rays and ultrasonography, can also be helpful for the diagnosis of concurrent diseases and complications due to diabetes.
What is the treatment?
The goal for managing diabetes is to keep glucose levels regulated, avoiding spikes and drops, and to reduce the signs of diabetes, such as excessive thirst and urination.
- Insulin – controlling canine diabetes may require daily insulin injections. However each diabetic dog requires different treatment so you will need to speak to your vet to find the correct dose and treatments.
- Diet – this plays a crucial role in helping to keep your dog’s diabetes under control. A diabetic dog’s diet will usually include good quality protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre
- Exercise – Daily exercise is essential for all dogs, but it’s especially important for dogs with diabetes, as exercise affects your dog’s blood glucose levels
- Regular check ups- visiting your vet regularly will help you manage the condition.
If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, don’t panic! With help from your vet, you should be able to provide your dog with the right care to ensure you both have many more happy years together.