Worried Your Dog Might Have Diabetes?

Diabetes affects animals, as well as humans. While it has the potential to cause health problems in your dog, early detection and treatment will help manage it.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects not only humans but other mammals too, including cats, horses and dogs.

Glucose (sugar) is the main source of energy for our body’s cells. During digestion, glucose moves into the bloodstream to feed our cells. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which is needed for this process. Diabetes – in humans and animals – occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough (or any) insulin, or when the insulin present doesn’t work property.

When the glucose can’t be used properly blood sugar levels rise, which can lead to adverse side effects. Diabetes is more common in older pets, although it can also occur in younger or pregnant pets. It is handled better if detected early and managed with the help of your vet.

While there is no cure for diabetes currently, with the right monitoring, treatment, diet and exercise, your diabetic dog can lead a long and happy life.

What are the effects of diabetes in dogs?

Your dog’s heart, kidneys, eyes, blood vessels and nerves can all be affected negatively by diabetes. Damage occurs as a result of the build-up of unusually high levels of glucose in your pet’s bloodstream, because insulin isn’t converting glucose into fuel.

Another effect is that your dog’s body can actually begin to break itself down, by drawing reserves from fats and proteins like muscle and organ cells in order to gain much-needed fuel. As you can imagine, this is very detrimental to your dog’s health.

If diabetes is left unchecked, serious and irreversible symptoms may occur. These include kidney failure, seizures, an enlarged liver, cataracts and urinary tract infections.

Signs your dog may have diabetes

Certain risk factors increase the chances of your dog having diabetes. If your pet is obese, for example, there is a higher chance that insulin resistance may develop, which may lead to diabetes.

Research also shows that if your dog is an unspayed female, she is twice as likely as a male dog to get diabetes. And, while dogs of any age can get diabetes, the chances are higher if your dog is middle-aged, or older.

These risk factors add to the likelihood of your dog having diabetes. However, if your pet doesn’t fit these criteria, they may still have diabetes.

Symptoms of early-stage diabetes may include:

  • A larger appetite than necessary
  • Weight loss
  • Very frequent urination
  • Insatiable thirst.

  • If the diabetes is not caught early, more advanced signs may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depressed behaviour
  • Vomiting
  • Low energy levels.

  • If your dog is displaying any of these characteristics, it is important to take them to your vet right away. If your vet diagnoses your dog with diabetes, they will then work with you to come up with a treatment plan to help your pet to live its life well.

    How is diabetes treated?

    Common practises for treating dogs with diabetes include injections, exercise and diet. It is often necessary for dogs with diabetes to receive insulin injections, which the owner administers. With practise, this routine becomes quick, easy and not at all traumatic for either you or your pet.

    Moderate exercise is also important for dogs that need to maintain steady glucose levels, as is a balanced diet with the appropriate food. Your vet will likely recommend a specific diet for your dog, including fibre, complex carbohydrates and good protein.

    Diabetes is a relatively common illness that, with veterinary support, can be managed well. So, there is no need to panic! The correct treatment and care for your dog will mean you can spend many happy years together, enjoying life as usual.