Dogs can struggle with many of the same health issues that humans deal with. Diabetes is one of those conditions. This chronic disease can affect both cats and dogs, as well as other animals. Although diabetes is incurable, dog owners can help their diabetic pooches manage the disease.
The most common type of diabetes found in dogs is Type 1. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your dog’s body stops producing insulin, which means that your dog will need to be provided with insulin on a daily basis. Type 2 diabetes occurs when your dog’s insulin production is impaired, and its body doesn’t respond to it adequately.
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Signs Your Dog Has Diabetes
These are numerous symptoms of diabetes in dogs. If you notice that your dog is drinking a lot more water than normal and always seems thirsty, this can be a sign that your dog has diabetes. Weight loss and change in appetite also signal that there is a problem, and it could be diabetes.
In addition to drinking more water, dogs with diabetes often urinate more frequently than normal and develop urinary tract infections often. Dehydration is also a symptom of diabetes.
Chronic skin infections and cataract formations can also be signs that your pet has diabetes. Vomiting and lethargy are other symptoms, as well as sweet-smelling or fruity breath.
Determining whether or not your dog has diabetes based on body language can be difficult, as many of the symptoms of diabetes are also symptoms of other illnesses. If you ever notice that your dog is lethargic or has been vomiting for more than just a day, you should consider a visit to your vet for a check-up.
Excessive thirst is one of the most common signs of diabetes in dogs. Noticing that your dog can’t seem to get enough water is a cause for concern and requires veterinary attention.
Dogs can often act depressed when they have diabetes. Watch for pacing, drooping tail and ears, and other stress or depression-related behaviors.
Here are some main signs to watch for if you think your dog might be diabetic:
- Ears drop
Other ways you can tell your dog has diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Formation of cataracts
- Weight loss
History of Dogs Being Diabetic
While diabetes in animals has been known since ancient times, it wasn’t until the 2nd century AD that the term diabetes was coined by Aretaeus of Cappadocia. In the 19th century, Oskar Minkowski and Joseph von Mering removed the pancreas from a dog with diabetes to see further what the disease did to the body.
In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best continued the study of diabetes by going a step further than Minkowski and Mering’s experiment. Banting and Best found a way to isolate insulin from pancreatic islets. They then administered the insulin to patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes, which lead to a treatment for both human and canine diabetes.
Over the last 200 years, scientists not only discovered that it was possible for dogs to have diabetes, they also conducted numerous experiments involving dogs and diabetes. While now we may frown upon these experiments, they led to advancements in treatment for both humans and dogs that may otherwise not exist to help those who have diabetes.
Interestingly, dogs are even trained to help detect high and low blood sugar levels in humans with diabetes. Diabetes alert dogs help their humans better prepare for blood sugar dips and spikes to prevent them from going into shock.
Science Behind Dogs Being Diabetic
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that an animal that has a pancreas can develop diabetes. Since dogs have pancreases, they can get diabetes.
Diabetes occurs when dogs are unable to produce insulin, or when their insulin production isn’t being responded to properly in the body. When your dog eats, food is broken down into different components by the digestive system. One of these components is glucose. Glucose is brought into the cells via insulin. If your dog isn’t producing insulin, its blood sugar levels will become elevated, which can cause a number of health problems when left untreated.
The exact cause of diabetes has yet to be determined, but genetics, obesity, autoimmune disease, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications, and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas all can play a role in the disease developing in your dog.
Dealing With Canine Diabetes
Dealing with canine diabetes is possible. While diabetes can’t be cured, there are numerous treatment options that provide dogs with the opportunity to lead normal, happy lives. A change in diet and exercise habits are likely to be prescribed by your veterinarian. Diabetic dogs are often put on a high-fiber diet that can help normalize the levels of glucose in their blood. Since obesity can contribute to the risk of developing diabetes, helping your pet lose weight with exercise can help the disease become more manageable.
Oral medications can also help regulate blood sugar levels, but since many dogs have Type 1 diabetes, insulin is usually required to help normalize glucose levels in the blood. Insulin needs to be injected, and the amount your dog needs is based on its weight. Your dog’s veterinarian will be responsible for teaching you how to properly administer insulin injections for your dog.
If you have an intact female dog, you should consider having her spayed. Female sex hormones can have an effect on blood sugar levels, which can make them harder to manage.
When you have a diabetic dog, it is important that they always get insulin at the same time each day and they eat regular meals with the injection. This type of structure allows your dog to get an increased amount of nutrients in its blood to coincide with the higher levels of insulin to prevent blood sugar spikes and drops. You will also need to learn how to check your dog’s blood sugar with a monitor. This will require you to prick your dog and extract a drop of blood.
How to React To Your Dog Having Diabetes
Visit with a veterinarian to come up with an appropriate treatment plan
Learn how to test your dog's blood sugar
Learn how to inject insulin
Understand how diet and exercise affect your diabetic dog
Have a plan for treating high and low blood sugar
Safety Tips for Managing Your Dog's Diabetes
Know how to safely administer insulin and any other medications
Learn how to identify high and low blood sugar in your dog