Do you know that one out of every 300 dogs is diagnosed with diabetes?
In the United States, diabetes has become alarmingly common in canines with a rise of nearly 80% cases over the decade. Luckily, science has made huge advancements with medication, and dogs with diabetes are living healthier and longer lives today.
This little piece of information is probably enough to answer your question “Can dogs get diabetes?” Yes, dogs can get diabetes. Dog diabetes or Canine diabetes is caused when a dog’s body cannot produce enough insulin, or the insulin it produces isn’t consumed properly.
To know more about Canine Diabetes, we must know about diabetes in the first place.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes (clinical name: Diabetes mellitus) is a chronic disease that occurs when the body cannot use glucose normally.
Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells. Think of it this way: glucose for the body is like fuel for cars. To control the level of glucose in the blood, the pancreas produces a hormone called Insulin. Now, when we eat food, the sugar content is transported to the intestine and is converted into glucose. With the help of insulin, the glucose is then circulated and delivered from the bloodstream to the cells. If the body doesn’t contain enough insulin or cannot use the insulin produced, the glucose builds up in the blood. This causes the sugar level in the blood to rise and the result is Diabetes.
In simpler terms, when the relationship between glucose and insulin gets “complicated”, the body suffers from diabetes.
Now, let us discuss Canine Diabetes in detail.
Diabetes in Dogs: Canine Diabetes / Can Dogs Get Diabetes?
Yes, dogs can get diabetes. Canine Diabetes is caused when a dog’s body cannot produce enough insulin, or the insulin it produces isn’t consumed properly. The whole glucose and insulin process in dogs is the same as humans. When insulin isn’t produced by the pancreas or when the dog’s body is unable to use the existing insulin properly, the glucose isn’t circulated either. The sugar level rises in the dog’s bloodstream, making them diabetic.
Type of Diabetes in Dogs
You may have heard that a human body is subject to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In the case of dogs, however, there is no such thing as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College recognizes the following two types of diabetes in dogs:
- Insulin-Deficiency Diabetes (IDD)
- Insulin-Resistance Diabetes (IRD)
Insulin-Deficiency Diabetes (IDD)
Insulin-deficiency diabetes (IDD) is when the dog’s body is not capable of producing insulin required for the body. This can happen if the dog’s pancreas isn’t functioning properly or otherwise, damaged. If your dog is diagnosed with IDD, they are going to need a daily shot of insulin.
Insulin-Resistance Diabetes (IRD)
Insulin-resistance diabetes (IRD) is when the dog’s body is not making use of the insulin produced by the pancreas. As a result, the glucose is not circulated and the sugar level keeps rising in the blood. IRD can be seen most commonly in obese and older dogs.
Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
There are a lot of similarities in the symptoms of diabetes as seen in humans and dogs.
Symptoms in a diabetic dog include:
- Increased thirst: You may notice that your dog is emptying the water can more often.
- Excessive urination: Your dog can be seen going outside to pee frequently or even having a “little accident” inside the house.
- Weight loss: Your pooch might be eating a normal amount of food, but you may notice them losing significant weight.
- Increase in appetite: Your dog may feel hungry all the time, even though you feed him normal portions of food at regular intervals.
- Lack of energy: You may see your dog looking fragile and tired all the time.
- Sweet-smelling breath: A sweet, fruity odor in the breath can be a sign of diabetes in dogs.
- Cloudy eyes: If diabetes goes undiagnosed in a dog for a long time, cataracts, a condition which forms a dense, cloudy area in the lens of the eye, can be found. This can eventually lead to blindness.
Effects of Diabetes in Dogs
When dogs develop diabetes, vital cell organs get deprived of glucose, and the dog’s body starts breaking down its protein and fat, as an alternative energy source for the body. Unfortunately, this odd system doesn’t go well with other organs and ultimately causes multi-organ failure. Damage can be seen in organs like the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, nerves, or eyes.
Diabetes in Dogs can exhibit the following effects:
- Urine infections
- Inflamed liver
- Kidney failure
- Ketoacidosis (a highly dangerous condition where the amount of acid in the blood is increased abnormally, due to the presence of ketone bodies)
Diagnosis of Diabetes in Dogs
If you find any or all of the above symptoms in your furry friend, take him to your veterinarian immediately.
Your vet will do simple tests to see whether or not your dog has diabetes. This includes a blood test and urine test to find out the excessive glucose content in the body.
With early diagnosis and treatment, there is a high chance that your dog lives a long and healthy life. So, it’s really important that you recognize the symptoms and take action without wasting any time.
Cure for Diabetes in Dogs
Unfortunately, no cure is available for diabetes in dogs. Just like with humans, diabetic dogs will have to live with this disease throughout their life. But, don’t be disheartened. Canine diabetes is completely manageable and with the right treatment, any diabetic dog will be able to live a long and blissful life.
Treatment for Diabetes in Dogs
Your veterinarian will determine the best treatment plan after your dog is diagnosed with diabetes. Initially, you might have to visit the clinic frequently for tests and adjustments. Hopefully, with the right medication, diet, and lots of love from your side, your lovely pet will be up and running in no time.
Your vet will most likely help you in the following ways:
- Change in diet: After your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, you might have to change your dog’s diet completely or make a few adjustments. You can discuss with your vet and decide the best type of diet.
- Change in exercise: To bring the glucose level in balance, there might be a change in your dog’s exercise routine too. Your dog doesn’t need a lot of exercise, but make sure they exercise consistently.
- Insulin Shot: Like most humans, your dog may also require daily dosages of insulin shots. You can take your dog to the clinic for this process, but it is better if you learn to do it yourself. It is not as hard as you would think. If you learn the right way, insulin shots can become a part of your daily routine easily.
The Likelihood of Diabetes in Dogs
The key to preventing diabetes is understanding the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of diabetes in dogs.
What Are the Risk Factors for Diabetes in Dogs?
While there is no fixed age, diabetes is most commonly seen in middle-aged to senior dogs. Most dogs are 5 years or older when diagnosed.
Reports suggest that neutered female dogs are twice as likely to get diabetes as male dogs.
- Chronic Pancreatitis
Chronic Pancreatitis or repetitive cases of inflammation of the pancreas in dogs can cause serious damage to the pancreas, resulting in diabetes in the long run.
Obesity in dogs is a risk for damage to the pancreas and can also cause insulin resistance, both of which can lead to diabetes.
- Excessive use of steroids
You might have used steroids as medication for various health issues such as itching, allergies, inflammation, immune system irregularities, and various skin problems. The use of these steroids can cause diabetes when used for a long time.
Genetics can play a major role in either increased or decreased risk of diabetes in dogs.
“A 2003 study found that overall, mixed-breeds are no less prone to diabetes than the purebreds. Some breeds that may be at higher risk include Australian Terriers, miniature Poodles, Puli, Bichon Frises, Miniature Schnauzers, Samoyeds, Keeshonds, Pugs, Dachshunds, Fox Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles.”
What Can Be Done to Remove the Risk Factors of Diabetes in Dogs?
Now that you know the risk factors, we have included some points that can help you avoid those elements of risk.
- Avoid feeding processed and canned food on a regular basis.
- Feed a balanced diet with a moderate amount of protein, fat, fiber, and low carbohydrate content.
- Keep your dog active by providing them with necessary exercise.
- Keep your dog’s weight in check. Do not let them over-eat. Instead of leaving food out all the time, make sure to feed them twice a day.
Other Health Conditions that Your Diabetic Dog Is Prone to
With the right medication and a healthy lifestyle, a diabetic dog can live a full and happy life. However, you have to watch out for other health issues if your dog is diabetic. Diabetic dogs are susceptible to the following conditions:
- Cataracts: A common health complication in a diabetic dog is cataracts. Reports show that 75% of dogs get cataracts in both eyes within 9 months of being diagnosed with diabetes. This can lead to blindness, if not treated in time. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice a dense layer or cloudiness in your dog’s eyes. This illness can be removed with the help of surgery.
- Urinary Tract Infection: The risk of Urinary Tract Infection is high in a diabetic dog because of excess sugar content in the urine. Make sure to watch out for any discomfort when your dog is urinating. If you feel so, contact your vet for advice.
Life With Your Diabetic Dog
If your dog gets diagnosed with diabetes, there is a little adjustment that you have to make to your daily routine.
As a responsible dog owner, you have to monitor your diabetic dog’s health progress regularly. Every day, make sure you check your dog’s blood sugar level and record the results. You should also record any ketone test result, fluctuation in your dog’s weight, energy level, appetite, frequency of water intake, and urination. Keep tabs on all medications and note down the reaction or side effects of the medicines if you see any. You can update your veterinarian with the progress and ask for advice if needed.
Watch out for hyperglycemia, a condition where glucose level rises above the normal level (your vet will tell you what the normal level is. Generally, they try to keep the blood glucose level below 200 mg/dl), and hypoglycemia, a condition where glucose level drops to 60 mg/dl.
You can either make a separate logbook to record this, or even a notebook or a computer excel sheet will do just fine. If you want to buy a notebook, here’s a link to buy one of the cutest medical record books for your dog.
This might feel like a daunting task for the first few days, but you will get used to it. Once it becomes a part of your day, you’ll feel just like how you feel about taking your dog out for a walk – a routine job.
If you’re having a hard time dealing with your dog with diabetes, here is a great book, that is well written and informative about dog diabetes. It also contains additional information about insulin and diet.
To cut a long story short, yes, dogs can get diabetes. Diabetes in dogs can cause a lot of unpleasant effects. It can be a challenge, but a challenge that you can successfully win. With the right medication and lots of love and care, you can ensure a healthy and happy companionship together.
To know more about dog health, visit our website.