Could Your Dog Have Diabetes?
It’s a serious disease, but managing it is possible. Here are the most common signs of diabetes in dogs.
You bring your dog in for a routine annual checkup thinking that everything is normal. But then you hear three little words that throw your mind into a whirl: “S/he has diabetes.”
If you’re like most dog owners, you’ll likely go through a series of emotions such as fear, confusion, or even guilt. You might even say things like “I knew I shouldn’t have fed him table scraps” or “I should have paid closer attention to the signs of diabetes in dogs.”
While canine diabetes is a serious disease (just as it is in humans), you can manage your furry pal’s condition with minimal interruption to their life. Read on to find out what diabetes is, what it means for the health of your dog, and what you can do to help Fido live his best life.
What Is Diabetes?
I’m sure you’ve heard of diabetes throughout your life. In fact, you may know several humans who live with this condition. But do you know what diabetes actually is?
Diabetes is an endocrine disorder, affecting how the hormone insulin is produced or used by the body. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and helps your body store glucose (sugars) throughout your body and convert into energy.
People (and dogs) with diabetes have higher blood sugar than normal, as their bodies aren’t able to properly convert the sugar to energy. High blood sugar levels can cause severe damage to the blood vessels throughout the body and also make it harder for the pancreas to produce insulin.
There are two types of canine diabetes:
- Insulin-deficiency diabetes (Type 1): This occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (usually stemming from pancreatic damage). This is the most common type in dogs and requires daily shots of insulin and diet management.
- Insulin-resistant diabetes (Type 2): In this type, the body produces insulin, but other hormones prevent it from doing its job correctly. These interfering hormones are most often caused by excess body fat, which is why Type 2 diabetes is more common in overweight dogs.
Signs Of Diabetes In Dogs
Diabetes develops slowly. At first, you might not notice that anything is different about your dog. But if the disease is left unchecked, the symptoms will become more severe. It’s important to be on the lookout for symptoms to prevent unnecessary damage to your dog’s organs.
The most common signs of diabetes in dogs are:
- Increased Urination/Thirst: When your dog has high blood sugar, his kidneys are forced to work overtime to get rid of the excess glucose through his urine. This means your dog will urinate and drink a lot more than usual. Has he upped his accidents in the house? Whine to go out every 20 minutes? Drink an entire bowl of water in minutes? Time to see the vet.
- Vomiting: Excess blood glucose levels and pancreatitis can cause vomiting in dogs.
- Increased Appetite/Sudden Weight Loss: Is your dog constantly eating but still losing weight? It could be diabetes. Without enough glucose to feed their cells, your dog’s body will go into “starvation mode” and trigger them to consume more nutrients.
- Weakness or Lethargy: Cells need a certain amount of glucose to function properly. Diabetes prevents your dog’s body from using sugars for fuel. Without that fuel, she will be weak, lethargic, and sleep more than usual.
- Other Health Issues: Some of the rare signs of diabetes in dogs are cataracts, seizures, and recurrent infections. While these are all symptoms that can be easily explained away by age or other factors, they can also indicate diabetes.
Diabetes is more than just “high blood sugar.” Left untreated, your dog may suffer from blindness, organ failure, body ulcers, and abdominal pain. This is why early detection is so vital.
Is My Dog At Risk?
While all dogs are at risk, certain conditions and breeds make a pooch more susceptible to forming diabetes.
- Age: Just as in humans, the age of a dog is a risk factor. With most cases of diabetes showing up around 7-9 years old, it’s best to keep an eye out for it around that time.
- Sex: Female dogs are twice as likely to develop diabetes.
- Breed: While all breeds can develop diabetes, there are some that are more prone to it than others. Some popular ones to point out are Keeshonds, Samoyeds, Pugs, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Schnauzers, and Poodles.
- Weight: Excess body fat tends to produce hormones that interfere with insulin, causing Type 2 diabetes. If your dog is looking a little chubby, consider implementing a new diet and exercise routine to decrease their risk.
- Pancreatitis: If your dog’s pancreas has already been damaged by inflammation, diabetes is much more likely.
If your dog has one or more risk factors, be on the lookout for any of the common signs of diabetes in dogs. If you suspect that your dog has canine diabetes, schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible.
Managing Diabetes In Dogs
Diabetes is a chronic illness that could be life-threatening, but proper management will allow your dog to live a long, happy life.
For dogs with Type 1 diabetes, treatment will involve insulin injections after every meal. Finding the right type and dosage of insulin takes time, so your vet will work closely with you to monitor your pet until you land on the right treatment plan. Your vet will likely also recommend some dietary changes. A healthy, low-fat, low-protein diet is key to help support a healthy pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is usually caused by excess body fat. Dogs with this type produce enough insulin, but hormones and enzymes released by their body fat make it ineffective. For this reason, dietary changes and exercise are the only reliable ways to manage Type 2 diabetes.
At Rick’s Dog Deli, we specialize in formulating delicious, wholesome meals with the perfect balance of nutrients for your beloved pet. Our Pancreatic Support meal is low in fat and protein, but contains USDA-inspected ingredients they’re sure to love!
With adequate veterinary care and diligence from you, your dog can have a new lease on life!
We all get concerned when we hear something is wrong with our best furry friends. The good news is that diabetes, although concerning, is a manageable disease.
Armed with the knowledge from your vet and a healthy, wholesome diet from Rick’s Dog Deli, Fido will be running circles around you in no time. Be on the lookout for the common signs of diabetes in dogs as s/he begins to age. The quicker you notice symptoms, the better.
If you’re still reeling from your dog’s canine diabetes diagnosis, we’re here to help! Our Pancreatic Support meal is specially formulated for dogs with pancreatitis and we have a selection of Therapeutic Meals to help manage a number of conditions. And if your pet has more unique needs, let us know! We will work with you and your veterinarian to develop a customized meal plan for your furry friend.