Most of us have heard of the condition known as diabetes. However, much fewer people realize that this complex disease can also affect many animals, including our canine companions. Known in pets as diabetes mellitus, the implications of this condition are also just as serious for our beloved fur babies. As caring and responsible owners, we want our dogs to live long, happy, and healthy lives. Fortunately, diabetes is one medical problem that is entirely preventable.
Doggy diabetes is really no different than human diabetes in that it is caused by either an inability to produce enough of the hormone insulin, or in rare cases, your pet’s body has an inadequate response to the insulin in her system.
Insulin is essential for your furbaby to be able to absorb sugar into her bloodstream after eating. If there is too much sugar in her blood it is called hyperglycemia, and this can make her very unwell.
The symptoms of canine diabetes are virtually identical to those seen in humans and include:
Changes in appetite
Unexplained weight loss
It is essential that you seek treatment immediately if you think that your dog may have diabetes. This is because, left untreated, the condition can have a number of detrimental effects on your pet’s health. These include:
Cataracts (which could lead to blindness)
Ketoacidosis. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that is characterized by rapid breathing, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting, and other symptoms. You can identify ketoacidosis using canine urine tests, and we recommend that all owners have a supply of these so that they can check their dog’s urine if the above symptoms occur. Ketoacidosis requires emergency veterinary care.
Urinary tract infections
How to prevent your dog from developing diabetes
One of the best ways to prevent your dog from suffering from diabetes is to do everything possible to minimize her risk of developing it. There are a number of factors that mean that your dog is more likely to suffer from this condition. While some, such as advancing age, are unavoidable, there are other steps that you can take that could prove advantageous in keeping her safe from diabetes.
Preventable risks include:
Gender. Unspayed female dogs are twice as likely to developed diabetes as males. Spaying your dog can also help protect her from some female diseases and cancers.
Steroid medications. Steroid medications are necessary to treat some diseases, but long-term use can lead to diabetes. Therefore, speak to your vet about the possibility of trying an alternative medication, if you are worried about possibility of diabetes.
The U.S. pet obesity rate continues to rise, and experts predict that more than 60% of canines are now considered to be substantially overweight. Like humans, this can have a range of effects on their health, one of which is an increased risk of developing diabetes. This is because dogs that are overweight require greater amounts of insulin than their body is able to produce.
Therefore, one of the most important things that you can do to help prevent diabetes from affecting your dog is to ensure that you keep her weight under control. This means controlling her portions, balancing her nutrition and ensuring that she gets plenty of exercise. Your veterinarian will be happy to monitor your pet’s weight and recommend an appropriate weight loss program.
If you are concerned about the possibility of diabetes mellitus, we recommend that you make an appointment with our veterinarian. We will be able to assess your dog and determine her risk of developing the condition. If she is considered to be at high risk, we will be able to work with you to minimize this possibility.