Most of us are aware of diabetes and the risks it poses to our own health. But did you know that you can also find diabetes in dogs?
In this mini-series, the Felcana veterinary team will be covering all the main questions you might have about dogs and diabetes, from how to detect the signs and symptoms of diabetes in dogs, to prevention, treatment and disease management.
So, what is canine diabetes? And how does this affect your dog?
Diabetes in dogs is very similar to its human equivalent. This chronic disease can't be cured, but luckily it can be managed very effectively with the support of your veterinarian.
At its simplest level, diabetes is a disease which effects the body’s ability to transport important glucose-sugars to the necessary cells.
This is because the dog’s pancreas is either unable to produce the hormone insulin, or react to insulin adequately. Insulin helps the body to absorb glucose, which is necessary to provide energy to body cells. When the body cannot produce or use insulin correctly, this causes the blood sugar levels to rise, which can be dangerous and cause other health problems, including cataracts.
Whilst any dog can develop diabetes, like most diseases, some breeds have a higher predisposition to the disease. Poodles, Cairn Terriers, Springer Spaniels, Dachshunds and Miniature Schnauzers are all at a higher risk.
The good news is that for most dogs with diabetes this condition can be managed successfully. Vets can recommend changes in diet, and along with insulin injections and regular exercise, most diabetic dogs can live long lives.
What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?
Unlike us, our dogs can’t tell us when they’re feeling unwell. This can make detecting health problems quite difficult.
First things first, if you suspect your pet is showing any of the symptoms of diabetes in dogs you should take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Without proper medical attention diabetes can be very bad for your dog’s overall health.
5 key symptoms of diabetes to look out for are:
Increased thirst - Dogs suffering from Diabetes tend to drink more than is normal. Felcana can help you monitor your pet's drinking habits and detect any changes.
Increased urination - Keep an eye on how often your dog goes to the toilet – not only is increased urinationa tell-tale sign of diabetes, it can also lead to serious conditions such as dehydration.
Appetite - Dogs with diabetes tend to have increased appetites they struggle to be sate. However, they won’t be putting on weight as you would expect.
Weight Loss - If your dog starts to drop weight but they're not eating less or exercising more, this could be a sign of diabetes.
Cataracts/Cloudy Eyes - As canine diabetes develops it can cause dogs to go blind. Check your dog's eyes regularly for signs of cloudiness or cataracts forming.
Different types of diabetes in dogs
It’s important to understand there are two different types of diabetes that dogs can get.
Type I diabetes is the most common form of the disease in dogs. This is when your dog is unable to produce adequate levels of insulin and is known as insulin-dependent diabetes. If a pet has this type of diabetes they will require regular injections of insulin for dogs to regulate their blood sugar levels and reduce incidents of hyperglycaemia.
Although a lot more common in cats, dogs can also develop Type II diabetes. This is when the dog’s body does not respond to insulin in the expected way.
How is diabetes in dogs diagnosed?
What causes diabetes is still unknown, but we do know some of the factors that increase the chances of dogs developing the disease. Just like in humans, being overweight or obese increases a dog’s risk of developing the disease.
However, if you or your vet suspect that your pet may have diabetes, there are a few easy tests to help make an accurate diagnoses.
First, your vet may ask to take a urine sample from your dog. If the vet finds sugar in the urine, a condition known as glucosuria there's a high chance your dog has diabetes.
The vet will confirm this by taking a blood sample and testing the glucose levels. If there is a high level of sugar in the blood, known as hyperglycemia, this, combined with the sugar in the urine and the symptoms stated above generally confirm the diagnoses of diabetes.
Diabetes: Treatment, Prevention, and Management
Once a diagnoses has been made, work with your vet to figure out the most appropriate treatment plan for your pet. You can also use the Felcana Pet Health Monitoring Kit to monitor your dog's reaction to medicine and treatments and discover changes in their condition.
In Part Two of our diabetes mini-series we will be looking at prevention methods, different types of treatment, and how to manage your pet's care if they develop diabetes.