What are Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is directly related to your dog’s pancreas and its function to produce insulin. Without insulin your dog’s body does not know to “grab” the glucose in his body to nourish himself.
While there is no cure for diabetes, with proper management of the symptoms and underlying issues it can be treated. You may notice symptoms begin as your dog ages and it is more prominent in female dogs than male dogs. The signs and symptoms can mimic other disorders and are often general in nature, not indicating anything specific.
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is known as the “sugar diabetes” and is more common in dogs than its counterpart diabetes insipidus. DM is your dog’s body having difficulty connecting his glucose and insulin. Glucose and insulin are used to keep your dog healthy and active and when they are not working correctly, your dog develops diabetes.
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Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
Symptoms vary depending on how severe your dog’s DM has gotten, listed below are some things to watch out for:
- Excessive drinking (polydipsia)
- Excessive urination (polyuria)
- Excessive eating (polyphagia) – with weight loss
As things progress you may begin to notice:
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Depressed attitude
- Kidney failure
- Ketoacidosis (your dog’s body begins to eat its fat storage for energy)
Causes of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
There is no known cause of your dog developing DM, however there are some things that put him at a higher risk:
- Age – as your dog gets older (5 years and up) his risk of being diagnosed with DM increases
- Gender – female dogs are twice as likely to develop DM than male dogs are
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) chronic or repeated can damage the pancreas eventually leading to possible DM
- Steroid medications – long term use
- Cushing’s disease
- Underlying health conditions can at times trigger DM
- Genetic predisposition
- Bichons Frises
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Australian Terriers
- Fox Terriers
- Cairn Terriers
Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
In the event you are questioning if your dog is suffering from diabetes mellitus, head to your veterinarian prepared with any and all information to share with the veterinary team. It will be important to share any symptoms you have noticed recently such as changes in eating habits, water intake, urination and more.
Your veterinarian will most likely want to run some tests to determine the exact nature of your dog’s symptoms. Some of these tests may include testing for glucose levels in your dog’s urine and/or blood. Your veterinarian may also test your dog’s liver enzymes and electrolyte balances which help to make a diagnosis for diabetes.
Your doctor may also look for any underlying medical concerns your dog is dealing with that may be contributing to your dog’s condition. In order to rule out other medical concerns your dog may be tested for UTIs as well.
Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
If your dog does have diabetes mellitus, your veterinarian’s goal will most likely be to manage rather than treat him. This is done by managing the symptoms he is experiencing to provide him with a good quality of life.
Your veterinarian may place your dog on an insulin regimen which will vary depending on your dog’s size and personal needs. Once you begin to administer insulin to your dog, you will have to check his glucose levels often in order to ensure he is receiving the appropriate amount of insulin for his specific needs. It is recommended to give your dog his insulin injections when he is distracted or when he is receiving a treat in order to avoid his lashing out.
Life style changes
Your dog may need to lose weight due to his obesity and this can be done via diet changes and more exercise. However, this may cause some concerns with your dog’s insulin levels so they will have to be checked regularly. Your veterinarian will discuss with you what is best for your dog to eat and how much, in order to provide him with the best health.
Recovery of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
As there is no cure for diabetes mellitus, you will be helping your dog manage his symptoms for his entire life. This will mean regular checkups with your veterinarian to ensure the long term effects are not impacting your dog (cataracts, renal failure, ketoacidosis) and if they are, to treat them quickly.
Keeping up with your dog’s daily doses of insulin, diet changes (high fiber, high protein, appropriate carbohydrates) and checking his glucose levels daily will be key to maintaining your dog’s condition. Regular exercise for weight loss and to avoid spikes or lows in your dog’s glucose levels should also be maintained. Your veterinarian will discuss with you what is appropriate and best for your dog’s needs.
Treatment may have to be tweaked, changed and new things trialed at times. However, with the ongoing care of your veterinarian and management of his symptoms your dog can live a long and fulfilling life.