Diabetes in dogs is a condition where the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin to effectively process the foods a dog eats. Because the food isn’t processed appropriately, it is unable to pass into the cells where it can be utilized, causing an excess of sugars to be passed into the bloodstream.
Common symptoms of diabetes in dogs are extreme thirst, excessive urination, ravenous hunger and weight loss. As the disease progresses, almost every system in the dog’s body can be impacted. If you suspect your dog may have diabetes, it is important to see a veterinarian for testing, diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.
Even though your dog may be drinking large amounts of water, its body is using more water than normal in order to flush its systems in an attempt to bring the blood sugar to a normal level.
Weight loss is caused by the body’s inability to take in adequate nutrients. The body begins to consume itself producing ketoacidosis, a condition that can become deadly if not treated.
Your dog may also exhibit symptoms of lethargy which is caused by its elevated blood sugar. The body and muscles are not able to operate efficiently under these conditions so it is easier for the dog to just lie around your house.
Because the symptoms of diabetes in dogs could also be an indication of other diseases, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination to determine if any of your dog’s systems such as heart, eyes or kidneys have been damaged.
Additional tests may be run on the blood and urine samples once the diagnosis of diabetes has been confirmed. The urine may be tested for protein presence. This indicates whether the diabetes has begun to break down muscle tissue in order to provide nutrients for your dog’s body. Your veterinarian may also want to conduct a hemoglobin A1c test on the blood to help him determine how long your dog’s blood sugars have been elevated. The blood may also be tested to determine if your dog’s kidney function has been impacted and how much function is left.
Once a dog is diagnosed with diabetes, the vet will prescribe insulin injections. It may take a few weeks to determine the appropriate dosage, but then the dog should be able to live a relatively normal life except for the addition of daily injections and possibly testing of blood sugar. Diabetes can be a juggling act as diet, medication and exercise must all be part of the equation in caring for a diabetic dog.
A low protein dog food is often recommended for diabetic dogs in order to minimize the strain on the kidneys and to protect their kidney function. Regular exercise is also recommended for a diabetic dog in order to help maintain control of the diabetes.
Treating a diabetic dog involves a combination of medication, food and exercise. Finding an appropriate balance is key to controlling its diabetes and preventing further complications.