Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) is a chronic condition that affects a dog’s endocrine (hormone) system. Diabetes occurs when a dog’s pancreas cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin to process glucose (sugar). Sugar then builds up in the bloodstream and can’t be used by the body for energy.
Untreated diabetes can lead to infections, blindness, and even death. While there is no cure for diabetes, it can be successfully managed.
Obesity, pancreatic inflammation, hypothyroidism, dental disease, pregnancy and Cushing’s disease may contribute to the development of diabetes. Diabetes is most common in middle-aged dogs, with females affected twice as often as males. While the condition can occur in any type of dog, it is more frequently seen in the following breeds:
- Siberian Huskies
Early signs of diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Urinary accidents
- Sticky urine
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
Elevated blood sugar and glucose in the urine suggest a diagnosis of diabetes. Additional tests will be performed to determine if any of the diseases linked to the development of diabetes are present and need to be treated.
Diabetes management is a lifelong endeavor and frequent checkups will be necessary. Once your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will help you develop a detailed treatment plan. Every dog is different, so it may take some time to find the regimen that’s best for your dog. Diabetes management focuses primarily on insulin administration and diet.
- Insulin: All dogs with diabetes require insulin injections twice daily. Your veterinarian will show you how to give the injection using a tiny needle.
- Diet: Food can be used to improve blood sugar control and facilitate weight loss or gain depending on the body condition score of the dog.
- Monitoring: Pet owners will monitor blood sugar control using urine dipsticks or a home glucose monitor. Many veterinarians use the blood test fructosamine as a monitoring tool during routine recheck visits. In dogs with difficult to control diabetes, additional testing will be performed to identify other diseases known to complicate management of diabetes: such as pancreatitis, hypothyroidism and urinary tract infections. You can help by keeping track of the following information:
Time of insulin injections
Food consumed per day
Water consumed per day
Results of urine dipsticks or home blood glucose monitoring
The best way to prevent diabetes from developing is to feed your dog a nutritious diet and to keep him at a healthy weight. Since dental disease has been identified as a risk factor for diabetes in dogs, regular dental care is critical for all dogs.