Diabetes is a carbohydrate metabolism disorder due to complete or partial insulin deficiency. It is prevalent in humans and is becoming a concern for the medical world due to the epidemic proportions that it has gained. It is not only humans who are in the grip of diabetes our loved pets are not even safe from its clutches.
Diabetes in dogs and is called canine diabetes.
A dog with canine diabetes will be hungry most of the time. Because insulin is not signaling to convert the glucose molecules into energy, the excess glucose gets eliminated out of dog's system through urine. The excess glucose in the urine interferes with normal urine and results in significant increase in urination. The affected dog gets dehydrated due to abnormal water loss, so the animal also experiences increased thirst. It is important to note that if left untreated or unmanaged, canine diabetes can lead to a number of health complications. Canine diabetes can occur at any age, though.
Symptoms of Canine Diabetes:
Here are the signs and symptoms of canine diabetes:
Early signs include:
- Increased urination
- Excessive thirst
- Hunger, most of the times
- Significant weight loss in spite of normal appetite
- Higher blood glucose levels
- Sugar (glucose) in the urine
Later signs include:
- Complete loss of appetite
- Drastic weight loss
- Frequent infections
Development of Diabetic Ketoacidosis: It is a life-threatening health complication of canine diabetes, caused by the breakdown of fat to ketones bodies in the liver amid the starvation. Its signs include
- Death (in extreme cases)
Causes of Canine Diabetes
There are various possible causes that may lead to canine diabetes. Genetic predisposition can be one major cause, as certain breeds are more predisposed to diabetes, and dogs who develop canine diabetes might also have diabetic relatives.
Few medical conditions somehow might increase a dog's risk of developing canine diabetes. The health conditions most commonly linked with canine diabetes are Cushing's syndrome, pancreatitis and obesity.
Below are the other risk factors that may increase your dog's risk of developing canine diabetes.
- GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
- Metabolic syndrome
Certain dog breeds are more vulnerable to developing diabetes. But, canine diabetes is not confined to only these dog breeds. Any dog might develop canine diabetes. The following dog breeds are at maximum risk:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Chow Chow
- Doberman Pinscher
- Finnish Spitz
- Golden Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Old English Sheepdog
- Springer Spaniel
- Tibetan Terrier
Preventing Diabetes in Dogs
It is possible to prevent canine diabetes. Follow the below-mentioned recommendations for preventing diabetes in dogs.
- Cut back the processed foods like canned foods and kibble.
- Restrict sugar and starch from your dog's diet.
- Your dog's diet must ideally contain moderate fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate and high fiber.
- Mange your dog's weight by increasing physical activities.
- Exercise your dog for 30 to 45 minutes before the evening meal.
- Minimize the vaccinations. This may help in preventing canine diabetes.
Diagnosis of Canine Diabetes
Your veterinarian will ask for detailed medical history of your dog and will inquire about the onset of symptoms. He will then conduct some tests.
Standard tests include
- Complete blood count (CBC),
- Urinalysis and
- Chemical profile.
These tests are sufficient for a diagnosis and start of proper treatment.
Generally, with canine diabetes, an abnormally high glucose concentration will be detected in the blood and urine.
Unusually high levels of liver enzymes are also common.
Radiographic tests including X-ray and ultrasonography, may prove helpful for the diagnosing other concurrent diseases and health complications due to canine diabetes.
Treatment and Care for Diabetic Dogs
Management of recently diagnosed canine diabetes can be quite challenging initially as it requires regular blood glucose tests and other adjustments, but with proper attention and support many dog owners easily adapt to the routine.
- Your veterinarian would prescribe treatment for your diabetic dog so that his or her blood glucose levels stay within in a normal range. This may require two daily insulin injections along with proper diet and moderate exercise.
- The veterinarian might also suggest appropriate weight for your dog. If your dog has already lost a considerable amount of weight due to canine diabetes, you may need to work with your vet on how to normalize your dog's weight.
- Don't make drastic changes to your dog's food and without discussing it with the veterinarian. Your dog might need a well-planned out and strict diabetes diet plan. The veterinarian will help you with the plan that is suiting your dog's needs, with certain lifestyle changes to help in proper management of canine diabetes.
- Keeping a daily record of your diabetic dog's diet, glucose levels results, daily insulin doses, and body weight is recommended for noticing any significant changes, that need to be addressed immediately.
- Several types of insulin are available and what suits your dog best would be as per your veterinarian's recommendation.
Unfortunately, canine diabetes cannot be completely cured, but you can ensure that your dog's health is stable and life normal.
Health Complications Due to Canine Diabetes
Below are certain health complications that may occur due to canine diabetes:
- Diabetic Nephropathy (Kidney Diseases): Canine diabetes may lead to diabetic nephropathy. The earliest symptoms include hyper albuminuria and high blood pressure.
- Frequent Infections: Various infections particularly urinary tract infections (UTIs) are much common in diabetic dogs.
- Liver (Hepatic) Diseases: Liver diseases are another common health complications that might occur due to canine diabetes.
- Cushing’s Disease: Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) may also occur due to canine diabetes.
- Hypothyroidism: A small percent of dogs with canine diabetes may also develop hypothyroidism.
Certain Helpful Food Additions for Diabetic Dogs
Here are few helpful food additions for managing your dog's diabetes.
Antioxidant foods help in combating free radicals that lead to inflammation, aging, tissue damage and degenerative diseases. Feed your dog, foods that are rich in antioxidants such as berries, phytoplankton, colorful fruits and vegetables and parsley.
Give probiotics to enhance your dog’s gut health and boost its immune system.
Turmeric is an excellent antioxidant and may help in regeneration of insulin producing beta cells.
Berberin has been long used in China for managing diabetes. It is naturally present in goldenseal and Oregon grape. Since goldenseal is endangered, you can feed grapes to your dog. But, it is important to consult your herbalist or vet to learn about the dosage that is best suitable for your diabetic dog.
Any dog might develop canine diabetes, but certain dog breeds are more vulnerable to developing diabetes. You must be aware of the general signs and symptoms of canine diabetes so that can detect diabetes much early. Canine diabetes might result in certain health complications including liver diseases, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease. This makes it necessary to manage your dog's diabetes effectively.