Diabetes in dogs is quite a common disease, with female and obese animals being most at risk. So what signs should you look out for, what can your vet do to help, and what can you do to manage the condition? Read on to find out more.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a disease that is caused by a deficiency in the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is responsible for converting glucose (a form of sugar) into energy. If the dog does not naturally produce sufficient insulin, his body will be unable to convert the glucose. This causes excessive amounts of sugars to build up in the bloodstream, causing the dog to become hyperglycaemic.
Diabetes can affect any breed of dog, and the condition can develop at any age.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes and hyperglycaemia in dogs include the following:
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
- hunger or total loss of appetite
- weight loss/anorexia
- lethargy and depressive state
- poor coat condition
If your dog starts to show any of these symptoms, you should consult your vet immediately. It may be that the signs are indicative of some other problem, but a combination of all these symptoms could mean that your dog has diabetes.
Diagnosis, treatment and management
Your vet will take blood and urine samples from your pet and tests will be carried out to produce a definitive diagnosis of diabetes.
Drug therapy may be prescribed to help control the condition, and your vet will also discuss an appropriate diet and exercise programme for your dog. You may be given specially formulated food for your pet. This diet will be a lifelong part of your pet's diabetes management programme, and although the food can be expensive, your pet insurance policy should cover it.
Depending on the severity of the condition, your dog may require daily doses of insulin to control his or her blood sugar levels. Your vet will calculate the dose for you and will show you how to administer the drug via injection to your pet.
If you have a female dog and you don't intend to breed from her, your vet may recommend that your pet is neutered. This will prevent the surge of hormones that are released during oestrus that can complicate the treatment of diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is relatively common in dogs. Although the disease can't be cured, it can be managed efficiently through appropriate diet, exercise and drug therapy. If you have any concerns about your pet's health, or if he or she is exhibiting any of the symptoms outlined above, always consult your vet for more advice.