Millions of people suffer from a common illness called diabetes, but what about canines? Can dogs get diabetes? Medical researchers know that diabetes is mainly caused by a lack of the hormone called insulin, or an inadequate response to insulin within the body.
When a human or dog cannot produce or properly utilize insulin within his body, the digestive system cannot adequately break the food down, which causes blood sugar levels to elevate. The result is hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia can cause a bevy of complications and health problems for a dog. Autoimmune diseases, genetics, obesity, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can also play a major role in the development of this disease.
Diabetes may seem like a very dangerous disease, but if properly monitored and treated in good time, you can control this disease to provide your diabetic dog a safe and comfortable life.
Symptoms of Canine Diabetes
The classic symptoms of canine diabetes include an increase in water consumption, an increased amount of urination, lethargy, a sudden weight loss despite a normal appetite, eating more than usual, blindness, urinary tract infections, and an unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath.
If you suspect that your dog might have diabetes, you should schedule an examination with the veterinary clinic right away. Your dog’s veterinarian can perform some simple tests that check for glucose in the blood and urine, confirming thr diagnosis easily and without excessive costs.
There are two types of canine diabetes, one of which is more complicated and often requires hospital care for your dog. The second type of diabetes in dogs is a more uncomplicated type, allowing owners to properly treat and care for their pets at home.
Medication Treatment for Canine Diabetes
When choosing a treatment for canine diabetes, most people think of insulin injections. There are many different insulin products, making the task of finding the right medication for your diabetic dog rather difficult, requiring experimentation.
Porcine and recombinant human insulin are the two products that most closely resemble the insulin produced by dogs and consistently, these continue to work best. Aside from choosing the right insulin, you should also pay close attention to insulin expiration dates and be sure to use the correct syringe.
If possible, you should have your vet observe as you give your dog his first dose of insulin from home. Incorrectly administered injections are the most common reasons for problems in achieving insulin regulation in canine diabetes.
Insulin is typically offered twice a day, immediately before or after a meal. You can inject insulin before feeding your dog as a reward for his cooperation, It is important for dog owners and dog caregivers to remember that dogs must have eaten or will eat immediately following the injection, as it may have a dangerous effect on empty stomachs.
How to Care for a Diabetic Dog
It may sound rather scary to care for a dog with diabetes, but with a little bit of information about the condition, you should have no problem finding ways for your canine to feel better. A proper diet, regular exercise and maintaining a normal healthy weight will help keep your diabetic dog happy.
- Change your Diabetic Dog’s Diet
First, you should address your dog’s diet, making any necessary changes that are needed. Your dog’s veterinarian will be able to tell you how many calories your dog needs every day to maintain a healthy weight. Dogs that are overweight or underweight are at a higher risk of complications associated with diabetes than dogs of regular weight. This is because weight issues can affect how insulin is distributed and used in the body.
The veterinarian may ask a few questions about your dog’s level of daily exercise, helping your canine achieve a weight that is ideal for his breed, size and health condition. Most dogs need a high fiber, low-fat diet, as fiber can help your dog feel full easily while the low-fat label mean fewer calories.
In addition, you should make sure that your dog always has access to plenty of fresh water. When your dog drinks plenty of water, it helps the body process the increased fiber intake. Without water, your canine is at an increased risk of constipation and other problems.
When choosing food for your canine, you can opt for food purchased from stores if he does fine with it. However, as a pet owner, you should always read product labels because manufacturers often market their pet foods as ‘all natural’ and ‘low-fat’ even though the calories do not match the claims.
Other canine feeding options include prescription dog foods or creating a homemade menu developed by a veterinary nutritionist. By carefully following a nutritious diet plan, you can avoid exposing your dog to needless risks associated with canine diabetes.
- Provide Regular Exercise for your Dog
Even if your dog doesn’t have diabetes, you should always provide plenty of exercise options, every day. With a reasonable amount of physical exercise, you can help your dog lose weight and maintain lower blood sugar levels. For example, a simple daily walk with your dog can help get your dog into good shape and keep him in a good mood.
You will find that the best results occur when you and your dog follow an exercise plan of the same length of time and the same level of intensity every day. Irregular exercises may have less physical effects on your dog’s health, and too long or too vigorous exercise sessions may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, too quickly. Even during normal exercise, you should supervise a dog with diabetes.
- Monitor and Record your Dog’s Insulin Levels
When your dog has diabetes, you have an increased number of responsibilities to fulfill, including frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels and insulin injections. This is usually done every day until your dog is stable and in good condition. Once your dog’s diet, weight and exercise levels are ideal, you will begin to record better numbers.
After the initial treatment and subsequent daily monitoring with lifestyle changes, you can decrease the monitoring to every three months. Proper monitoring includes veterinary exams, blood tests, urinalysis and a urine culture. These tests will help determine the condition of your dog’s health and what, if anything, he is lacking.
At home, you can use a glucose monitor to keep an eye on your dog’s blood’s sugar level. A small lancet is used to puncture the skin to obtain a small amount of blood that is drawn into the machine. The display will show your dog’s glucose concentration.
Another way to monitor your dog’s glucose and ketone levels is through his urine, using home-use dipsticks. Speak with your veterinarian about the types of blood glucose monitoring he recommends for your canine companion.
Diabetic dogs without treatment will develop secondary health problems such as cataracts and severe urinary tract problems. If left untreated, diabetes in dogs can also cause coma and even death when the condition becomes serious. However, with the right care and monitoring, you can offer your dog a long, happy and healthy life.
Take daily notice of your dog including his eating, drinking, sleeping and urinating habits. If there are any changes that strike you as odd or different, contact your vet right away. Once your dog is being treated for diabetes, never change insulin or prescription types unless recommended by the veterinarian to avoid complications.