Can dogs get diabetes? The short answer is yes they can. Unfortunately diabetes in dogs is quite a common disease.
All breeds can be affected, however old and over weight dogs are particularly susceptible. The following breeds are also statistically more likely to get diabetes during their lifetime: Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Miniature Schnauzers, Keeshonden, and Poodles.
Strangely, there is a 3 to 1 ratio of female dogs to male that have diabetes, and the average age before the disease sets in, is 6 to 9 years.
Can Dogs Get Diabetes – The Disease Explained
Diabetes in dogs occurs when there is an inadequate production of insulin by the islet cells in the pancreas.
The reason some breeds suffer more than others is that in many cases there is a genetic predisposition in the failure to produce a healthy amount of insulin.
Insulin is vital in both humans and dogs, in that it enables glucose (sugars) to pass into the cells of the body. Here the glucose is broken down and metabolized to produce the energy that we and dogs use to live and breathe.
Where insulin is deficient, the glucose can not be broken down fast enough to either power the body, or stop the blood stream from becoming overloaded with excess sugars.
The result in dogs is hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and glycosuria (high urine sugar).
When there is too much glucose in the urine, your dog will go to the toilet a lot, which in turn causes dehydration and other health issues.
Can Dogs Get Diabetes – The Symptoms
Also, dogs that are not metabolizing enough sugar will show signs of an increased appetite, (for the body needs the missing energy). However, over time the malnourishment will lead to the appetite dropping, as well as signs of lethargy in your pet. Rapid weight loss may also occur.
As the onset of diabetes continues, the dog may show more serious signs such as vomiting, weakness and dehydration, and may even pass out or fall into a coma. However, one would hope that you had already taken your poor dog to the vet before diabetes could ever have this effect.
Cataracts are also common in diabetic dogs. In fact dogs can suffer ailments in all manner of ways as the condition can affect every organ. Enlarged livers, more susceptible to infection, and further neurological problems can occur if diabetes goes untreated.
Treating Diabetes in Dogs
Just as humans treat diabetes in themselves, the same rules apply to dogs: dietary control and a close monitoring of insulin levels, (with daily injections if necessary).
If the disease is controlled, your dog will be able lead a happy and healthy life style.
Unfortunately, the oral application of insulin has so far been unsuccessful in dogs, however the scientists are not giving up.
The vet will be able to recommend the amount of insulin your dog requires, and how to administer it, as the weight of the dog is just one factor in the equation. The degree of pancreatic failure is different in every dog, therefore the daily insulin dose has to be carefully measured.
This is done with initial testing, followed by a tentative treatment plan.
Your vet will over see progress, and will carry out a blood glucose curve (a series of blood sugar tests drawn over 12 to 24 hours). This will determine your dog’s specific blood glucose levels, with refinements being made to the dosage and timings of the injections.
With suitable guidance you will be able to take care of your dog, and administer healthy dosages of insulin so that they can continue with their lives as normal.
As we have touched upon, your dogs diet has a big impact on not only reducing the impact of diabetes, but actually helping to prevent it in the first place.
Obesity is a big cause of diabetes in dogs, so through out their lives, you need to watch your dog’s weight. Too many treats that add too many pounds is a sure fire way of increasing the risk of dog diabetes.
If your dog has diabetes and is overweight, they should be put on a high-fiber, high-carbohydrate diet until he reaches an ideal weight. Avoid soft-moist foods and treats that are high in sugar.
Fed canned and dry kibble foods containing high concentrations of fiber and complex carbohydrates, can help prevent the onset of hypoglycemia, as the components contained within help slow absorption and minimize fluctuations in blood sugar after eating.
Can Dogs Get Diabetes – Bottom Line
Dogs can certainly have diabetes, and although some breeds are more susceptible than others, you can do a lot by watching the food that your dog eats, and ensuring they have plenty of exercise.
Should they show the early signs of diabetes, take them to the vet immediately. With the proper treatment, dietary plan and insulin injection program, your dog will not suffer and will continue to be a happy pet for many years to come.