Did you know that the rate of dogs with diabetes has tripled since 1970 affecting about one in every 160 dogs? And that overweight dogs, females and certain breeds are more prone to diabetes? Or that pregnant dogs can get gestational diabetes?
If your dog was recently diagnosed with diabetes, don't despair. Dogs with canine diabetes can live a long and healthy life if their disease is managed appropriately. Approximately 70% of dogs don't get diabetes until their senior years (age 7+).
Type 1 diabetes is the type of diabetes dogs get and requires insulin injections. Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin to metabolize food for energy, or when the body's cells fail to utilize insulin properly.
The Symptoms of Canine Diabetes
Although the symptoms will vary from dog to dog, here are the general symptoms your dog may exhibit if he/she has canine diabetes:
- Extreme thirst
- Fruity or sweet smelling breath
- Appetite changes
- Weight loss
- Acute onset of blindness from cataracts
Causes of Diabetes
Although the exact cause of diabetes is unknown, researchers believe there is a genetic component, since diabetes occurs more regularly in certain breeds. According to PetMD, some breeds run a greater risk, including Australian Terriers, Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Poodles, Keeshonds and Samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes can also be seen and is particularly prevalent in Golden Retrievers and Keeshonds.
Other factors that may contribute to canine diabetes are obesity, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications, and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas.
Your veterinarian can confirm whether your dog has diabetes with a simple blood and urine test which records glucose levels. Treatment will depend on the results of the lab work and if any other pre-existing illnesses are complicating the disease. Some dogs may also need a high-fiber diet that can keep glucose levels in the body normalized. It is important that the insulin shots be given at the same time every day in conjunction with his regular meal. Your dog's blood sugar will need to be regularly monitored and a daily exercise program and diet may be recommended.
Remember that a proper diet and regular exercise can help prevent diabetes in certain dogs. If you even suspect your dog may have diabetes, take him to the vet before secondary complications (such as cataracts and urinary tract problems) occur.
Canine diabetes can be successfully managed.