Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes occurs when the body suffers from either an absolute shortage of insulin (Type I), or from an incorrect response from the cells to the insulin that is being produced, the condition known as insulin resistance (Type II). Both of these conditions prevent the muscles and organs from converting glucose to energy, and result in excessive amounts of glucose in the blood, which is also known as hyperglycemia.
Insulin is a hormone and is produced in the pancreas. It releases into the cells in response to the digestive conversion of proteins into glucose in the bloodstream. Most of the ingested food is broken down into glucose, a type of sugar in the blood and a major source of energy for the body. The correct insulin function will trigger the liver and muscles to take up glucose from the blood cells, converting it to energy.
Diabetes, a common condition in people, is also increasingly common in dogs today. Type I diabetes is the worst form, as one needs daily insulin injections to maintain blood sugar balance (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus – IDDM).
A diabetic dog will be regularly hungry, as glucose does not make it to the brain; glucose levels in the brain will be too low for the brain to register that it is receiving food. Because insulin is not giving the muscles and organs the signal to convert glucose to energy, the excess glucose in the blood will be carried out of the body in urine instead of being used for energy, and there will be a marked lack of energy. An increase in urine is a result of increased thirst. The liver, eyes and kidneys are all affected by this condition.
Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
Early signs can include excessive urination, excessive thirst, hunger and weight loss. Later signs may include lethargy, depression and even vomiting.
Other symptoms may include an enlarged liver, cataracts and bladder or kidney infections.
What Causes Diabetes in Dogs
There are several causes of dog diabetes. Genetic predisposition is one likely cause, since some breeds seem to be predisposed to diabetes, and dogs that have diabetes often have relatives with the condition.
Owners can be the cause of their dogs diabetes too, through feeding of a bad diet and lack of exercise. These two factors are very important, especially diet. We have all given our four legged friends treats from our left overs or feed them exactly what we eat. Diabetes continues to become a very large problem for us as humans and is increasing all the time due to bad diet through fast food, excessive sugar intake and lack of exercise. If our dogs are mirroring what we eat and do, then it follows that they will suffer from diabetes too. And also there is the possibility of suffering from arthritis in dogs.
Your dogs physiology and digestive systems are very different from ours, so we need to feed a different diet all together. A raw food diet for dogs is advocated (please see Feeding Tips Page for more information). Winston & Porter's ® Nourish + C Multi Vitamin and Mineral Supplement can also help with diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels. The active ingredients slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars.
Dog breeds at a higher risk: Poodle, Beagle, Keeshond, Miniature Pinscher, Samoyed, Miniature Schnauzer, Cairn Terrier, Dachshund and Puli
Is my Dog Diabetic?
Your vet should record a detailed medical history from you of your dog's health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Standard tests include a complete blood count, chemical profile, and urinalysis. These tests should be sufficient for diagnosis and initial treatment.
A high concentration of glucose will be found in the blood and urine. Abnormally high levels of liver enzymes and electrolytes imbalances are also common.
Treatment and Care
One of the best ways to help is for your dog to lose weight and take more exercise, coupled with an improved diet. For older dogs and those that have been very overweight Max Strength Joint Supplement may be a good choice as your dog could be suffering with dog joint stiffness and other dog joint mobility issues.