What are Diabetes?
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Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
The following symptoms are strong indicators that a pet may have diabetes:
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss (with increased appetite)
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Bladder or kidney infection
Signs of advanced diabetes include:
Diabetes mellitus is grouped into two types based on disease pathology:
- Type I - The more severe of the two forms. The body is unable to produce insulin. Treatment is with daily injections of insulin. 99% of diabetes in dogs is Type I.
- Type II - In this form, the body produces insulin, however the cells are unable to use the insulin. Type II can be treated with oral medications. Only 1% of dogs have Type II diabetes.
Causes of Diabetes in Dogs
Approximately one in 500 dogs will develop diabetes. The exact cause is unknown, but certain dogs are at increased risk for developing diabetes:
- Obese dogs
- Female dogs (twice as likely to develop diabetes)
- Older dogs (7-9 years)
- Autoimmune disease
- Genetic predisposition (Cairn Terriers, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Poodles and Samoyeds)
- Drugs (glucocorticoids and progestogens)
- Viral infection
Diagnosis of Diabetes in Dogs
If you note symptoms of diabetes in your pet, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Be sure to let her know when the symptoms started and any behavioral or physical changes your pet is demonstrating. A physical examination of the abdomen can detect an enlarged liver (often accompanying diabetes).Laboratory Diagnostics
Blood diagnostics will test for high levels of glucose, indicating diabetes. High liver enzymes and electrolyte abnormalities may also be observed. A urinalysis that shows the simultaneous presence of glucose and ketones in the urine. Bladder or kidney infection often accompanies diabetes.X-Ray and Ultrasound
Radiographs and ultrasound are good tools for visualizing the presence of kidney stones (seen in diabetic patients), pancreatitis or an enlarged liver and can rule out other causes of diabetes-like symptoms such as tumors or kidney disease.
Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs
Treatment of diabetes may be ongoing throughout the life of the pet. However, when diabetes is managed appropriately, the pet can lead a normal, full and enjoyable life.
When your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, you will be instructed by your veterinarian on a home care routine. This routine will include timed daily insulin injections, timed feedings, a specific diet and exercise plan, and timed blood glucose monitoring sessions.Insulin Injections
Oral medications are not available for Type I diabetes. Insulin will be supplied by injection under the skin using a syringe or insulin pen (a pre-filled syringe). There are various types of insulin and syringes. Your veterinarian will let you know which type of insulin and syringe to purchase and train you how to inject your pet.
Insulin is a very delicate substance and must be stored in the dark in a refrigerator. It cannot be shaken but must be mixed delicately before each use. Injections are given using a very small (hair-thin) needle. Pets normally adapt well to daily injections. You may need to give 1-2 doses daily, at the same time each day.Blood Glucose Monitoring
Your veterinarian will schedule blood glucose readings frequently in order to measure the effect of the insulin. Adjustments will be made to the insulin dose until the right dose is determined. Normally, your veterinarian will start your pet on a low dose and increase the dose as the blood glucose test indicates. The goal is to treat while avoiding overdose.
Your vet may schedule several all-day glucose curves that monitor blood glucose every 2 hours. You may also wish to purchase your own glucometer to read blood glucose levels and do curves at home.Diet and Exercise
A specific diet and regular exercise are required to control diabetes. Obesity can cause resistance to insulin therapy. Underweight animals will also need to reach a healthy weight as soon as possible. A high-fiber dog food is often prescribed as fiber slows the body’s absorption of sugars. Meals must be scheduled and fed at the same time each day according to your veterinarian’s instructions. They will often be offered twice daily, just before the insulin injections.
Never change a pet’s diet suddenly. The veterinarian will give you a detailed schedule on transitioning to the new diet and what to feed. Avoid giving high-sugar treats to diabetic pets.
Recovery of Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes can be preventable in some pets with proper diet and exercise. Once diabetes has developed, it can be managed with a solid routine of insulin therapy, diet and exercise.
Administer prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian. Watch for symptoms and if they continue or worsen, the insulin dose will need to be adjusted. Never adjust the dose without the veterinarian’s instruction.
Too much insulin is worse than not enough. Insulin overdose can result in low blood glucose, disorientation, weakness, collapse or seizures. Offer food immediately if you observe these symptoms. Rub Karo syrup on the gums of an unconscious pet and call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If your pet vomits its meal or won’t eat, call the vet for recommendations on whether or not to give insulin. Don’t give a full insulin dose to a pet that hasn’t eaten and don’t skip an insulin dose (call your veterinarian and follow instructions).
Keeping a log of your dog’s diet, body weight, glucose test results, and insulin doses will help you and your veterinarian manage treatment.
Diabetes Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Blossom is to begin her insulin tomorrow but I fear she may be in distress now.
I would say her condition is beyond moderate. I was unable to awaken her this am, she was like a wet noodle until I placed her on the floor. She walked to the door and went outside to pee. I let her in. She immediately drooped her head and began to shut her eyes. She then followed me to the bedroom and I put her on my bed, she flopped down and again is just limp.
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Can i give snack to my dog turning the day, between the am insulin and the pm insulin? He gets hungry by noon and the am dose is at 7am. Then by around 3pm he's looking for food or treats again. My vet said nothing in between meals. He is losing weight, so I do give him celery sticks for snacks, been doing that for about a week now and he seems more alert, less lethargic and better overall. Oh, he was diagnosed with diabetes in June this year, 2&1/2 weeks after he went blind. However he's handling it better then my husband and myself! Any advice would be helpful!
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