Diabetes can also affect dogs. But with the right therapy and commitment on the part of the owner, diabetic dogs can lead a completely normal life. Find out here what diabetes means for dogs and how you can treat the disease together with your veterinarian.
What is Canine Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that is similar in dogs to humans. In a healthy body, the pancreas produces insulin. This hormone transports sugar from the blood to the body’s cells, which use it to generate energy. After a meal, the insulin level rises in order to break down the contained sugar accordingly. This insulin mechanism no longer works properly in diabetes. As a result, the glucose contained in the food does not get into the cells but remains in the blood. The blood sugar level rises. The body lacks energy and the animals lose weight in the course of the disease.
As in humans, there are different types of diabetes in dogs.
- Type 1 diabetes means that the dog is producing too little insulin.
- Type 2 diabetes is very rare in dogs. In this form, there is enough insulin but the body cannot recognize it. In this case, experts speak of insulin resistance. There are also some diseases in dogs that lead to diabetes symptoms.
- These type 3 diabetes forms include Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, and diabetes during pregnancy.
Why Do Dogs Get Diabetes?
Genetic factors often play a role. Some breeds are more likely to develop diabetes than others. This clearly includes the Samoyed. Breeds such as poodles, dachshunds, and Labrador retrievers are also thought to have a propensity for diabetes. However, it is not clear how the more common causes of diabetes are related to the popularity of these breeds. Gender also has an influence on the risk of diabetes in dogs: bitches suffer from diabetes more often than males. Similar to humans, obese dogs that do little exercise have a higher risk of diabetes than dogs of normal weight. Most four-legged friends get sick at an advanced age.
Symptoms: This Is How You Recognize Diabetes in Dogs
If you observe these symptoms in your dog for several days, diabetes is suspected:
- severe thirst and consequently frequent urination;
- more hunger, although the dog is losing weight;
- small wounds take longer to heal;
- dull fur;
- fatigue through to apathy;
- long-term consequences: opacity of the lens of the eye – cataracts.
In addition, life-threatening ketoacidosis can occur in diabetic dogs. The whole metabolism gets out of balance.
If your dog no longer has an appetite, is vomiting, has a stomach ache, and behaves apathetically: See a veterinarian with him as soon as possible.
Hypoglycemia as part of insulin therapy can also be life-threatening. If left untreated, diabetes is fatal.
Diabetes Therapy for Dogs
The good news is, most dogs with diabetes can live to be quite normal. The worse news is that diabetes therapy requires a lot of time and commitment on the part of the dog owner. If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, the disease will affect your daily routine, especially in the first few weeks.
But one thing at a time: Anyone who suspects their dog has diabetes should visit the vet with him. They will prescribe insulin after the diagnosis is confirmed by a blood count and, if necessary, a urine test. The pet owner will have to inject this every day in the future. However, it often takes weeks or months to determine the correct dose of insulin. It is therefore important to create a blood sugar profile of the dog. This means that the dog owner measures the blood sugar several times a day and documents the results in writing. In this way, the vet can find out how long and how strong the insulin works. Too little insulin does not bring about any improvement; too much can lead to life-threatening hypoglycemia. After consulting the veterinarian, the dog owner adjusts the insulin dose.
It makes more sense than a once-a-day dose of insulin to inject twice a day. The dog’s blood sugar balance is more balanced, as insulin works for a maximum of 14 hours. The dog is given food twice a day before the insulin is administered.
Discipline is also required when feeding: you should always keep to approximately the same time and not change the feed.
Because a different combination can mean that the laboriously adjusted sugar metabolism gets mixed up. The feed should contain a lot of raw fiber. According to previous knowledge, a low carbohydrate content seems to be less important in dogs than in cats. Discipline is also necessary when it comes to snacks and treats: Rewards from treats harm the dog. Reward your four-legged friend with a game, petting, or – rarely – grab freeze-dried snacks made from pure meat.
What Does Diabetes Treatment in Dogs Cost?
Diabetes therapy in dogs is expensive. Because you need insulin every day and, especially at the beginning of the disease, many test strips until the blood sugar is adjusted.
Including a diagnosis at the vet, several hundred dollars can be due in the first month. Then the monthly costs amount to around $75 upwards.
Due to cataracts as a long-term consequence of diabetes, a high percentage of diabetic dogs go blind despite being well adjusted to insulin. A possible eye operation is in turn associated with costs.
For dog diabetes management, you need:
- Insulin from the vet – store in a cool place and do not shake;
- Syringes with fine needles;
- A blood glucose meter – pharmacies or manufacturers often provide them free of charge;
- Matching strips for the blood glucose meter;
- Piercing aid for measuring blood sugar with lancets;
- Optional: a cherry stone pillow to warm the ear.
Don’t Be Afraid of Measuring Sugar and Injecting Insulin With Your Dog!
Do blood glucose tests and injections seem impossible to you? No fear! Thousands of pet owners made it before you – so can you! Testing your blood sugar can be tricky at first because you need a certain amount of blood for the device to start. It’s just a little prick for your dog. Tip: stab the dog on the outer edge of the ear. Warm up the ear beforehand, for example with the cherry stone pillow mentioned or with an ear massage. Heat stimulates blood flow, which makes it easier for a blood droplet to form.
The vet will show you how to inject. It is best if you are allowed to practice in the vet’s office with saline under the vet’s eyes. Boldly grasp a small fold of fat and inject the insulin into it. Your dog will hardly notice it. Always remember: Your tension transfers to your animal – as does your confidence. Radiate calm.
Can Diabetes Be Curable in Dogs?
In cats with diabetes, changes in living conditions – changes in diet, loss of excess weight, more exercise – can lead to remission. This means: the cat no longer needs insulin for the time being. This is almost never the case with dogs. An exception can be female dogs who develop “heat diabetes” in the course of their cycle and who quickly receive treatment.
Having a dog with diabetes usually means lifelong therapy. However, with a good quality of life.
Do not lose heart when diagnosed with diabetes! After a few weeks, diabetes management is part of everyday life and you can hopefully give your four-legged friend a good time.