Diabetes is a common disease in humans and dogs alike. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 100 dogs has the disease, and its prevalence is increasing. Diabetes refers to the lack of insulin production in the pancreas. Insulin is important for the body to function, as it turns glucose into energy. When insulin production is low, the dog suffers from high blood sugar, which can be fatal if not properly treated.
Diabetes has several main causes. The most common one is heredity. If a dog’s parents have the disease, then it is likely that dog will develop it as well. Certain health conditions can also trigger diabetes. Cushing’s disease is an example of this. Other pancreatic diseases can also affect insulin production.
The use of certain medications, such as steroids, can affect organs such as the pancreas. This can affect insulin production. Obesity can also cause diabetes. Poor diet can cause high levels of glucose in the dog’s blood as well as weight gain. The body’s ability to respond to insulin is also affected.
Certain breeds are more prone to developing diabetes. These breeds include golden retrievers, German Shepherds, terriers, beagles, poodles and dachshunds. The average age of onset is between 7 and 9 years old, so it primarily affects older dogs, although a dog at any age can acquire the disease. In addition, due to hormones, female dogs are more likely than males to develop diabetes, especially if they are not spayed.
The symptoms of diabetes in dogs are essentially the same as the ones found in humans. Increase in appetite and thirst are the most common signs. Weight loss is also present. As diabetes advances, the appetite will decrease dramatically. The dog may also show signs of lethargy and weakness. Vomiting and dehydration are common. Because diabetes affects the entire body, the dog may develop cataracts and frequent infections, particularly in the liver.
When glucose levels reach dangerously high levels, the dog may experience rapid breathing and with the breath smelling similar to nail polish. This is a medical emergency that must be treated promptly; if left untreated, the dog can go into a coma or even die.
Diabetes cannot be cured, but with proper treatment, a dog can live a fairly normal life, and the symptoms can be effectively managed. Most dogs will need to receive daily injections of insulin. The amount of insulin required depends on the dog’s weight as well as daily caloric needs and the severity of the diabetes. In addition, your vet will determine the best type of insulin for your dog. There are three types: short-acting, medium-range and long-range.
The insulin must be taken at the same time every day in order for it to be the most effective. The insulin therapy is started at home, and the dog may come to the vet for weekly visits to refine the insulin dosage and check glucose levels.
Change in diet and exercise routines may also be needed, especially if your dog is overweight. An ideal diet should be high in fiber and complex carbohydrates and low in sugar and fat. A diet incorporating these elements will help regulate blood sugar levels so they do not get too low or high, as both can cause dangerous health situations. In addition, food should be portioned and given several times throughout the day instead of one big meal.
A diabetic dog will require regular vet visits to ensure the diabetes is effectively managed. The vet will perform blood glucose testing to ensure the levels are within range. The vet may require that glucose be tested at home as well.
Many dog owners try to manage diabetes through herbs and other dietary changes. For example, some swear to adding a few drops of apple cider vinegar to their dog’s water, as this helps to regulate insulin production. Natural herbs such as gurmar, turmeric and melon can also be added to the water to regulate blood sugar. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on dog food as a way to replace insulin in the blood. However, before trying these alternative treatments, it is advised to get approval from the vet.
Most of the time, diabetes cannot be prevented because it usually caused by heredity. However, there are a few things dog owners can do to reduce their dogs’ risk of acquiring the disease.
The most important thing is proper diet. Dogs should be eating a high-quality diet. Human food should be limited, and portions should be properly rationed so the dog is not overeating and gaining weight.
Exercise is also essential. Exercise helps stabilize glucose levels as well as maintain a healthy weight.