By Sherry L. Granader
Dogs, like humans, can also get diabetes. They can be diagnosed with Type I diabetes where there is a shortage of insulin or Type II diabetes where the cells do not respond to insulin being produced, also known as insulin resistance. Both conditions prevent the internal organs and muscles from converting glucose to energy, resulting in excess amount of glucose in the blood known as hyperglycemia.
Insulin deficiency caused by diabetes is a condition where protein, fats and carbohydrates are not digested well. In other words, it is difficult for an animal to use the food they eat for energy and growth because it all depends on having sufficient amounts of insulin to help do the job.
In order to break down and digest food into glucose in the bloodstream, the body needs insulin, a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. When insulin is working properly, the muscles and liver take up glucose from the blood and convert it into energy. Dogs with Type I diabetes require daily injections to maintain proper blood sugar balance.
Dogs with this condition are hungry all the time because glucose is not getting to their brain, signaling they are full and have received food. Since insulin is not giving the internal organs and muscles a signal to convert glucose into energy, the excess glucose goes right out the body through urine causing a lack of energy in your pet. Increased thirst is quite common, plus the kidneys, liver and eyes can also be affected.
Diabetes can occur in your pet, usually dogs, at any age. Of course, just like in humans, obesity plays a role in developing diabetes so helping your pet maintain a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise are important.
Here are the signs and symptoms of diabetes:
• Constantly hungry
• Excessive thirst and urination
• Weight loss
Later on, they can experience:
• A complete loss of appetite
• Enlarged liver
• Bladder infections
Causes Of Diabetes in Dogs
Some breeds of dogs are predisposed to diabetes plus there seems to be a correlation between dogs that receive hormone therapy during their heat cycles can often develop the disease. Hormone therapy can interfere with insulin production and function of the pancreas. Immune system disorders and other viral diseases can lead to diabetes.
Standard tests that include a urinalysis, chemical profile and complete blood count are used to diagnose. A high concentration of glucose in the urine and blood will show up as well as high levels of electrolyte imbalances and liver enzymes. High levels of ketones, water-soluble compounds produced in the liver and kidney, will also show up. X-rays may be needed to determine if there are kidney stones present or inflammation of the liver and pancreas.
Daily exercise is key, something that is good for both of you when it comes to managing weight. The first priority is to balance your dog’s food and liquid cravings to lower the demands on insulin. If your pet has lost weight, then your veterinarian can help you with a plan for gaining weight to normal levels. Avoid moist and soft foods because these cause rapid accumulation of glucose in the blood. Gradually change their food, if needed to suit your pet’s needs. Lifestyle changes and proper management of the disease will go a long way in coping with diabetes in your pet.
Reviewed and approved by Dr. David L. Roberts, DVM