From Pet Health Learning Center
Dog Diabetes (Canine Diabetes)
Signs and Symptoms
Canine diabetes usually manifests itself as type 1 diabetes, which involves a lack of insulin production resulting from damage to the beta cells of the pancreas. This leads to elevated levels of glucose in the blood since sufficient insulin is not available to transfer the substance from the blood stream into cells. This causes a variety of problems for a dog with this condition and will also trigger the display of a number of telling symptoms and warning signs.
When concerned that your dog may be suffering from diabetes, there are a number of signs to look for. Two of the most common symptoms of this disease are polyuria and polydipsia. Respectively, these terms refer to increased urination and increased consumption of water. Not only are these two warning signs very common, they also tend to be the ones first noticed by pet owners. Weight loss is also a typical symptom of diabetes, and many dogs will lose weight despite increased hunger and appetite. These changes in appetite occur because the body's cells are not receiving the required amounts of glucose and so, despite the high levels of glucose in the blood stream, the brain believes that more glucose is required. As a result, the brain continues to drive the hunger response. The weight loss that can occur despite increased eating results from the fact that an afflicted animal's body will break down stores of fat and protein in order to produce more glucose.
If canine diabetes is left untreated, other serious symptoms can also arise. The development of cataracts and sudden blindness are typical in dogs with untreated or improperly treated diabetes. If this condition is still allowed to progress, serious and extremely dangerous changes to a dog's blood chemistry will occur, leading to a life-threatening state known as ketoacidosis. When an animal reaches this stage, symptoms include vomiting, weakness, and lethargy. Eventually these warning signs will be followed by coma and death. Thus, it is clear that catching diabetes early on is absolutely imperative. Therefore, if you observe any of the above symptoms or warning signs being exhibited by your pet, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.
When suspicious that diabetes could be afflicting a canine patient, a veterinarian will evaluate the clinical signs and symptoms displayed by the dog, conduct a physical exam, and perform laboratory tests. During the first two steps, the doctor will look for the various warning signs typically caused by diabetes and will also want to know about the behaviors and symptoms exhibited by your dog in the home environment. At this point, it's very important for pet owners to divulge any and all information that could possibly be relevant. This will help the veterinary doctor to determine what is happening with your pet's physiology.
Certain common symptoms of diabetes such as increased thirst and increased urination can also be caused by a variety of other diseases and medical conditions. For example, polydipsia and polyuria are also common amongst dogs suffering from canine Cushing's Disease and renal failure. Therefore, the presence of certain warning signs alone will not be enough to confirm a diagnosis of canine diabetes. This is why laboratory tests are important. Both urinary analysis and blood analysis are commonly employed in order to determine whether or not a dog has diabetes. These tests are used to determine the amount of glucose present in a dog's blood and urine. High amounts of glucose in either type of sample are indicative of diabetes. Furthermore, a veterinarian may check these samples for abnormally high levels of organic compounds known as ketones, which are produced by the liver when insulin levels are insufficient.
Through a combination of evaluating clinical signs and laboratory results, a veterinary doctor will be able to determine whether or not your dog is suffering from diabetes. Once a diagnosis of this condition has been confirmed, the practitioner can then work with you to determine the best course of action to take next.
Understanding the underlying pathophysiology of diabetes can be helpful when dealing with a pet that is suffering from this condition. Having a basic knowledge of this disease and its effects will help you to provide the best possible care for your canine companion. As mentioned earlier, type 1 diabetes is the most common form of this disease to affect dogs. This condition is an endocrine disorder that results from problems with the dog's pancreas, namely Dog Pancreatitis. The pancreas consists of beta cells which are located in areas known as the islets of Langerhans. These cells are responsible for producing a hormone called insulin.
Insulin plays a critical role in glucose (sugar) metabolism, regulating the concentration and distribution of this substance. When the beta cells of the pancreas become damaged or destroyed as a result of various causes, insulin is no longer produced in sufficient amounts. If this happens, a dog's body can no longer properly regulate glucose metabolism. As a result, this substance is no longer transferred to cells that require it for energy. Not only do these cells then begin to suffer, but the concentration of glucose in the blood stream also goes up. This produces a disruption of the healthy physiological balances normally maintained in a dog's body. Many of your pet's systems will go awry, causing uncomfortable and potentially deadly symptoms that will only grow progressively worse if left untreated.
As mentioned previously, diabetes involves the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. There are numerous potential causes of this destruction and, therefore, numerous causes of diabetes. Some canines seem to be more predisposed to developing diabetes than others, but this may or may not have any correlation to different breeds. However, unspayed female canines may have increased risk of developing this disease due to certain reproductive hormones. Typically, onset of this condition will occur in a dog somewhere between the ages of seven and nine years.
In addition to reproductive hormones, many other factors can cause diabetes. Steroids and immune deficiencies can cause the damage and destruction of beta cells characteristic of this disease. Furthermore, any medical condition or infection that places stress upon the pancreas can also cause diabetes. Such conditions include pancreatic infections, Cushing's Disease, and infectious viruses. As a result, promptly and properly treating these pancreas-stressing conditions can go a long way toward protecting your dog from the onset of diabetes.
Proper treatment of diabetes is vitally important in order to prevent the condition's serious effects and also to prevent the untimely death of your beloved companion. When this disease is caught in its early stages and dealt with carefully, canine diabetes can often be treated quite successfully. There is no cure for this condition, however, but through the use of a variety of treatment options it can be very controllable.
Generally, there are three aspects involved in the treatment of canine diabetes -- insulin injections, lifestyle changes, and dietary adjustments. For a dog suffering from this disease, daily insulin injections will likely be required. There are a number of different types of insulin available and a qualified veterinarian will be able to help you figure out which one is best suited for your individual pet. Furthermore, some dogs require two injections every day, while others do quite well with only one. Again, the needs of your specific dog will determine the number of injections required in your particular case. This aspect of treating diabetes very much needs to be tailored to each dog's specific requirements and circumstances. For pet owners, learning how to properly store and inject insulin is an important step that will help to ensure quality treatment for your canine companion.
Lifestyle and dietary changes also play an important role when it comes to treating canine diabetes. Occasionally, such adjustments are enough to control the disease and insulin injections are not required. The type of diet required for your dog will depend upon his or her individual circumstances. Sometimes high-fiber, moderate-carbohydrate diets are recommended for diabetic dogs. Other canines need to be fed a diet that restricts their fat intake. In addition, a veterinarian may encourage regular daily exercise, which will help to promote your pet's health and well-being.
When approved by a veterinary doctor, dietary and herbal supplements may also be a beneficial treatment option when used in conjunction with other treatments. Herbal multivitamins and healthy, natural ingredients can enhance a dog's diet and help to reduce the effects of diabetes. Moreover, proper diet and supplements will increase the overall health of your pet. As a result, when treating diabetes there are a variety of factors and options to consider. If your dog begins to display any symptoms of diabetes, be sure to contact a veterinarian immediately so that a prompt diagnosis can be made and treatment can begin as soon as possible. If this occurs, there is a good chance that your canine companion can enjoy several more years of quality life.