Healthy dogs are the key to a happy and healthy family! As you bring home a pup, a responsibility also comes along… Responsibility to make them a part of your family… Responsibility to take good care of them – their health, their dietary habits, their physical needs! They won’t speak, they won’t complain, but you need to be vigilant. You need to keep a close watch on their day to day activities; if your pooch starts frequenting loo more often than before and finishes his water bowl instantly; suddenly, the urination decreases and he starts dehydrating and avoids eating his favourite food, then you need to beware because these are the signs that indicate that your dog may be diabetic.
Yes, dogs can get diabetes too! So, here we are, to be your guide and help you recognize the symptoms your dogs may show and get them treated.
CANINE DIABETES: Types
Dogs can experience two different types of diabetes:
- Diabetes Mellitus (Sugar Diabetes)
- Diabetes Insipidus (Water Diabetes)
Diabetes mellitus is common in dogs, but only a few dogs ever get diagnosed with water diabetes.
Diabetes Mellitus is a condition that affects the amount of glucose, or sugar, in your dog’s blood. It occurs when your dog’s body makes too little insulin, stops producing it completely, or has an abnormal response to insulin. Where as,
Diabetes Insipidus or water diabetes occurs when their kidney fails to make enough concentrated urine and they start passing too much water from their body.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disorder of carbohydrate metabolism due to relative or absolute insulindeficiency. Female dogs are affected twice as often as males, and incidence appears to be increased in certain small breeds such as Miniature Poodles, Dachshunds, Schnauzers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles, but any breed can be affected.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that occurs when the body cannot use glucose (a type of sugar) normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for a body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are primarily controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas. When food is digested, the body breaks down some of the nutrients into glucose. The glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, which then transports the glucose throughout the body. Meanwhile, Insulin acts as a ‘gatekeeper’ that tells cells to grab glucose and other nutrients out of the bloodstream and use them as fuel. With diabetes, the glucose-insulin connection isn’t working as it should.
Although, as in human patients, diabetes in dogs is sometimes classified as Type I or II, but the difference between the types is less clear in dogs than it is in humans.
Type I refers to Insulin-deficiency Diabetes – It occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin
Type II refers to Insulin-resistance Diabetes – It occurs when the body cannot respond normally to the amount of insulin made by the pancreas.
The most common symptoms of diabetes in dogs are:
- Drinking excessively (much more than usual)
- Urinating excessively (much more than usual)
- Having a ravenous appetite
- Losing weight rapidly or suddenly
Advanced signs: In more advanced cases of diabetes, symptoms can become more pronounced and can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Depressed attitude
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to devastating effects on the dog’s body, which can include:
- Cataracts (leading to blindness)
- Enlarged liver
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney failure
- Ketoacidosis – It is a potentially life-threatening acute condition that can be accompanied by rapid breathing, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting, or sweet-smelling breath; can be triggered by factors such as stress, surgery, fasting, infection, or an underlying health condition combined with low insulin level.
Dogs that are Predisposed to Diabetes
Age: While diabetes can occur at any age, it mostly occurs in middle-aged to senior dogs.
Gender: Unspayed female dogs are twice as likely as male dogs to have diabetes.
Excess Weight Gain: Obesity contributes to insulin resistance and is a risk factor for pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.
Chronic or Repeated Pancreatitis: Chronic or repeated pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) can eventually cause extensive damage to that organ, resulting in diabetes.
Cushing’s Disease: With Cushing’s disease, the body overproduces steroids internally, so this condition also can cause diabetes.
Steroid Medications: These can cause diabetes when used long-term.
Other Health Conditions: Some autoimmune disorders and viral diseases are also thought to possibly trigger diabetes.
Diet:What your dog eats is important in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. In dogs, with diabetes mellitus, diets with high insoluble fiber may help stabilize blood glucose levels. Dogs with underlying conditions contributing to diabetes, such as pancreatitis, may require different diets such as ultra-low-fat diets. Your dog’s feeding routine is also important. Free-choice feeding is not the best way to feed a diabetic dog. The preferred way is to feed twice daily, just before each insulin injection. If your dog is currently eating on a free-choice basis, it is important to try to make the change to twice-daily meals. In case of specific issues related to dietary needs of dogs with diabetes mellitus, you must go with the recommendations of your vet.
Exercise: To help avoid sudden spikes or drops in glucose levels, it is important that diabetic dogs maintain a moderate but consistent exercise routine.
Insulin Injections:They are a necessary part of diabetes treatment.Most diabetic dogs will require daily shots of insulin under the skin. Rely on your veterinarian for a detailed plan regarding the timing and dose of insulin as well as how to handle any potential problems that might develop.
Diabetes insipidus (DI) is rare in dogs and is distinct from diabetes mellitus (DM). DI is an issue with your dog’s ability to control his water intake and urine output. So, it is also called water diabetes. This is a pituitary gland disorder that causes your dog’s urine to become diluted due to his inability to concentrate his urine and can lead to dehydration in your dog if left alone. When their body fails to produce an adequate amount of the hormone Vasopressin (ADH), it changes the body’s hormone levels and starts affecting several areas of the body, particularly the kidneys. ADH ensures that their kidney can retain the water necessary to keep their body hydrated. Once it fails, they start losing enough fluid to cause dehydration.
There are two types of diabetes insipidus and both are directly related to the pituitary gland and how it interacts with the body.
Central Diabetes Insipidus (CDI) – It is caused by the pituitary gland not releasing enough of the hormone called vasopressin, which is an antidiuretic hormone. It may be due to birth defect, trauma, tumor on the pituitary gland, or possible unknown cause. It is found in any breed, gender, and age of dog and can begin anywhere from 7 weeks to 14 years of age.
Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus (NDI) – It is caused by your dog’s kidneys not responding to vasopressin that the pituitary gland produces. Most often it is found secondary to renal failure or metabolic disorders. It may be due to birth defect, drugs, or other metabolic disorders. It is found more often in Huskies as a primary diagnosis. Generally, it is found in puppies 18 months and under.
There isn’t a single symptom of diabetes insipidus. Depending on the severity, your dog may show different signs. Some common clinical signs of water diabetes in dogs include:
- Frequent urination (polyuria)
- Increased drinking (polydipsia)
- Decreased urination with dehydration
- Passing of pale-coloured urine every 15 to 20 minutes
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Lack of appetite
- Poor hair coat
- Weight loss
- Incontinence issues
- Your dog may need hospitalization to test for a modified water deprivation for diagnosing any two of the Diabetes Insipidus.
- An ADH trial follows if the cause is neurogenic, which is generally treated with vasopressin injections.
- Several synthetic ADH substitutes are available. Some of these are administered by injection or as pills (Hydrochlorothiazide).
- Few may be administered as drops into the eyes or nose. Desmopressin (also known as DDAVP) is applied either as eye drops or injected under the skin.
- Polyuria may be controlled using desmopressin acetate, a synthetic analogue of ADH.
- Weaning the pet onto a sodium-restricted diet may also be part of the recommended therapy for diabetes insipidus.
- If you may elect not to treat diabetes, you should ensure to provide your dog with unrestricted access to water at all times. Water deprivation can easily lead to stupor, coma, and death.
To sum up, we can say that diabetes insipidus is not usually life-threatening, but is inconvenient for the owner and stressful for the animal. You can keep it at bay with timely medical attention and the correct lifestyle. Similar is the case with canine diabetes mellitus; once it is properly regulated, the dog’s prognosis is good as long as treatment and monitoring are consistent. With medication, the disease can go to remission, which means your dog will show a very few signs of diabetes.
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