Most people are confused about what dog diabetes really is. Here is detailed information about this disease, including what causes it, symptoms, how a dog gets it and the cure or treatment of canine diabetes.
Causes and Symptoms of Dog Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a common disease that affects one in 500 dogs. Miniature Schnauzers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, and German Shepard dogs have the highest incidence.
Canine diabetes requires daily insulin injections and permanent treatment. This lifelong condition occurs when the dog’s body doesn’t process insulin properly, or makes too little insulin.
What Is Dog Diabetes?
The rate of diabetes in dogs has tripled since 1970. Over 70 percent of dogs with diabetes are females. Most pets are between seven and ten years old when diagnosis is made. This disease occurs when the body cells fail to utilize insulin properly, or when the body is unable to produce enough insulin to metabolize food for energy.
Insulin affects the way your dog’s body uses food. When your pet eats, glucose (sugar) is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream. The body cells extract glucose from the blood with the help of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.
Appropriate insulin function will cause the muscles and liver to take up glucose from the blood cells and convert it to energy. In dogs, diabetes is caused by loss or dysfunction of pancreatic beta cells. When the pancreas fails to produce insulin or can not utilize it properly, blood sugar levels increase. The result is hyperglycemia, which can lead to serious health problems.
The United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College has identified two forms of canine diabetes: insulin-resistance diabetes (IRD) and insulin-deficiency diabetes (IDD). Neither matches any type of human diabetes.
IDD is similar to type 1 diabetes in humans. This condition is caused by destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas. Dogs diagnosed with type 1 diabetes need exogenous insulin injections.
Insulin-resistance diabetes is caused by diestrus, the period of sexual quiescence between two estrus (heat) periods. Dogs may also develop diabetes insipidus, a less common form of diabetes caused by insufficient arginine vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone) or resistance to it.
Canine Diabetes Causes and Risk Factors
This condition is caused by a lack of available insulin. Certain breeds are more prone to diabetes. The main risk factors include:
• Genetic susceptibility of certain breeds
• Middle-aged to older female dogs
• Unspayed females
• Use of steroid medications
• Dietary factors
Diabetes is more common in middle-aged and senior dogs. This disease is often linked to pancreatic damage caused by autoimmune disorders. Recent studies show that these disorders may be triggered by over-stimulation of the immune system from processed foods, multiple vaccinations, and certain drugs.
About 20 percent of dogs develop insulin resistance from acromegaly, Cushing’s disease and other conditions. Long term use of steroid medications may also cause diabetes mellitus. Females can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Overweight dogs face a higher risk of diabetes and pancreatitis – a condition that may contribute to diabetes in 30 percent of cases.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptoms of canine diabetes include:
• Increased thirst
• Unexplained weight loss
• Frequent urination (polyuria)
• High glucose levels in the blood and urine
• Loss of appetite
• Enlarged liver
• Diabetic ketoacidosis
• Loss of bladder control
• Increased appetite (polyphagia)
The primary clinical sign of canine diabetes is excessive water consumption (polydipsia) and excessive urination (polyuria). Dogs with diabetes tend to lose weight because they breakdown stores of protein and fat to make ketones and glucose in the liver.
It is important to contact the vet if your dog has cloudy eyes, urinates more frequently, and drinks more water than usual. The veterinarian will ask about these symptoms and perform several tests to rule out the possibility of other conditions. He will also check the dog’s urine for the presence of ketones and glucose.
Treating Canine Diabetes
If your pet suffers from diabetes, the vet will recommend oral hypoglycemics, insulin products, and special diets.
He will show you how to perform glucose tests at home and monitor your dog. Each pet will respond differently to treatment.
It is important to always give your pet insulin at the same time every day and create a feeding schedule around his medication time.
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