Diabetes is one of the most common metabolic diseases among canines. Just like with humans, this condition comes in two types and can be due to a variety of reasons. But can diabetes in dogs be reversed? In this post, I will discuss this topic and other things you need to know about canine diabetes.
Whether your dog is healthy or suffering from this problem, it pays to know more about dog diabetes. This will help you become proactive in case your dog exhibits signs of the dreaded disease.
What is canine diabetes?
Canine diabetes mellitus is a health problem that affects the blood sugar levels of a dog. There are three reasons why dog diabetes occurs:
- The dog’s body has an abnormal response to insulin
- Your dog’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin
- The dog’s body doesn’t produce insulin at all
Depending on the severity of these three conditions, your dog may suffer from varying complications. This is why you should know how canine diabetes happens and what you need to do if your dog got diagnosed with it.
To understand how diabetes occurs, let us first take a look at the physiological aspect of the condition.
Whenever a dog eats carbohydrates, it’s converted into simple sugars. These simple sugars or glucose need to be stored in your canine’s body if not yet needed for use. Also, it needs to be transferred to the cells to be utilized as energy.
Both of these processes require insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. If it’s too high, too low, or depleted, your dog will be in big trouble.
As the insulin level or sensitivity fails to meet the required function, it will allow sugar to stay within the bloodstream. This is called hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels.
Since the cells don’t receive the glucose, it will start to waste away. This is why unexplained weight loss is one of the hallmark signs of canine diabetes.
So what happens to the glucose floating all over the dog’s blood? Well, these sugars will draw out large amounts of water from the canine’s body. It will increase urination in an effort to flush out the excess.
This abnormality will soon tax the dog’s kidney. It will also increase the risk of infection, blindness, and other secondary illnesses.
Types of dog diabetes
Like human diabetes, dogs can experience two types of diabetes: Type I and Type II.
Canines with Type I diabetes don’t have enough insulin. This is because the pancreas fails to produce the hormone. On the other hand, Type II diabetes happens because the dog’s body doesn’t respond to insulin as intended.
Overall, the differences between the two types can be challenging to diagnose among dogs. Thorough and immediate veterinary attention is necessary.
Also, whatever type of diabetes your dog has, it’s important that it receives proper treatment. This is to prevent the life-threatening effects of canine diabetes.
Symptoms of canine diabetes
Canine diabetes often reveals itself. Unlike cancer and other health problems, it’s quite easy to spot if your doggo is exhibiting the tell-tale symptoms of this health condition. Here are some of the signs to watch out for:
- Increased urination. Since excess glucose in the blood draws in water to get out of the dog’s body, it will obviously make your dog urinate more.
- Increased thirst. As your dog’s body loses water, the pooch will become thirstier. This will lead to an excessive increase in drinking.
- Losing weight despite eating enough. Canines with diabetes will lose weight even if they are eating enough. It’s because the glucose isn’t properly stored and utilized within the body cells.
- Changes in appetite. Many dogs with diabetes were observed to have an insatiable appetite. This happens even more if the dog’s body isn’t producing enough insulin.
- Poor vision. Diabetic canines often suffer from blindness due to cataract formation. Over time, this will make your pet’s eyes look cloudy and glassy.
- Dull coat. As the body fails to utilize the glucose on the dog’s blood, nutrition absorption is also affected. As a result, your pet will start to have a dull and thin coat than usual.
If you suspect that your dog has diabetes, you must bring it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will conduct various tests to confirm if your pet is indeed suffering from diabetes.
Can diabetes in dogs be reversed?
Unfortunately, there’s no absolute cure for canine diabetes. Similar to human diabetes, it’s a life-long condition that requires continuous medication. Still, there are many ways to manage it, so your dog can still live a long and fulfilling life.
We also have to factor in the type of diabetes your dog has. Type I diabetes is not reversible since it involves the failure of the pancreas to produce insulin. Sometimes, it’s a genetic problem and can’t be corrected or cured by any existing drug.
On the other hand, Type II diabetes can be reversed on some occasions. This is possible if the cause behind the diabetes is lifestyle-related. For example, dogs that developed diabetes due to obesity can reverse the condition by losing weight and switching to a healthier diet. Still, this isn’t absolute. Some dogs with Type II diabetes aren’t curable.
In the end, the goal is to improve your dog’s quality of life. The vet will play a big role here.
Causes of dog diabetes
Many factors expose canines to a higher risk of developing diabetes. The following are some that you should watch out for:
- Age. Older dogs are more likely to develop diabetes than younger ones. However, young canines aren’t invincible to the condition, especially if they fall within other risk factors.
- Gender. Female dogs are observed to be more at risk of developing diabetes. Neutered male canines also have a slightly higher risk than their intact counterparts.
- Diet. Dogs eating a high-fat diet will suffer from pancreatitis, which will then impact the production of insulin.
- Breed. Specific breeds are more at risk of developing diabetes than others. The likes of Standard Schnauzer, Australian Terrier, Samoyed, Bichon Frise, Fox Terrier, and Miniature Poodle are just some of these breeds.
Take note that these are just some of the causes of canine diabetes. Each dog is different, and so are its body processes.
Taking care of a diabetic dog
Caring for a diabetic canine isn’t easy. The dog requires life-long veterinary support to give it the best quality of life possible. To ensure that your pooch will live a good life despite its condition, you should consider the following tips:
🐶Switch to a new food product
The first thing you need to do is find diabetic-friendly food for your dog. The vet can surely recommend one based on the canine’s overall health condition.
Unlike typical dog food, those made for diabetic canines have lower sugar content. It also helps boost the dog’s immune system to fight infections.
Whatever food you pick, make sure that it doesn’t have fillers and artificial add-ons. Natural and organic options are excellent since the nutrients are intact and it doesn’t have unnecessary ingredients.
🐶Implement strict portion control
When it comes to diabetic dogs, you have to be very strict when it comes to meal portions. Avoid overfeeding as this can cause a sudden increase in blood sugar levels, which could put the dog’s life at risk.
Your dog will surely beg for more, but you should never give in. Also, you should cut back on the treats based on the advice of the veterinarian.
Overall, you should base your dog’s meal size on its age, breed, and activity level.
🐶Add exercise to the mix.
Exercise is crucial in managing canine diabetes. Exercising will keep your dog’s blood sugar levels manageable. It will also prevent obesity, which will make the symptoms of diabetes worse.
However, you should match the amount of exercise to the needs of the dog. For example, Bulldogs don’t require as much exercise as a Golden Retriever. Also, they are better off doing low-impact routines because of their short legs and stocky bodies.
🐶Consult the vet regularly
The vet is always the best person to call whenever your diabetic dog is having problems. Routine checks with the veterinarian will help manage the condition, so your pooch will have a good quality of life.
Since diabetic canines require life-long veterinary care, the guidance of a vet is truly indispensable. Make sure that you find a vet that you’ll be comfortable working with long-term. A vet with expertise in canine diabetes is also the best person to consult.
🐶Follow the vet’s treatment plan.
Once your dog has been diagnosed, the vet will prescribe a treatment plan. While this plan won’t necessarily wipe away diabetes, it will prevent the condition from being life-threatening.
It’s important to follow this plan religiously. From your dog’s diet, exercise needs, medication, and more, you should dedicate time to make sure it will be met properly. Of course, this will also require extra funding.
Stress can make diabetes symptoms worse for canines. It’s important to keep them in a calm and nurturing environment away from too much noise, crowd, and other disturbances.
Moreover, you should give your diabetic dog a quiet corner to rest. An orthopedic dog bed will also help keep the canine comfy, especially if it’s already a senior dog.
🐶Involve your family in the process
Lastly, your family should be on board in caring for your diabetic dog. Raising a dog with diabetes is a family affair since it’s a long-term responsibility.
Make sure that the kids know what they can’t feed the dog as well as the physical limitations of the canine. Should emergencies occur, your family should know what to do.
This way, someone else can attend to your pet’s needs whenever you’re not at home. It will also secure your dog’s welfare at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long can a dog live after being diagnosed with diabetes?
A: There’s no specific formula on the lifespan of a dog with diabetes. However, veterinarians say that if the canine lives past the first three months of having the condition, it will likely survive up to two years without treatment. However, the progression of the condition varies per canine.
Q: What should a diabetic dog not eat?
A: Diabetic dogs should be given a controlled diet to manage the condition. Pet owners should avoid sugary food as well as semi-moist types as it contains more sucrose than other products. When in doubt, it’s always best to consult your dog’s vet for the best product choice.
Q: When should you put down a diabetic dog?
A: If your diabetic dog is suffering more than enjoying life, its veterinarian may discuss euthanasia with you. You have to consider the quality of life of your pet as well as the extent of the condition. If the prognosis isn’t good, it might be better to save your dog from suffering.
Q: What happens if you don’t treat a dog with diabetes?
A: If a dog with diabetes is left untreated, its condition will worsen quite fast. The dog will lose weight and suffer from various health complications. Many diabetic dogs experience kidney failure as high blood sugar levels spill into the kidney. As the organ tries to get rid of the excess glucose, it suffers from excessive wear and tear.
Q: Where do you inject insulin in dogs?
A: Insulin injections are often administered under the skin of the canine. It’s done near the shoulder blades or the canine’s hip bone. Your dog’s vet will guide you on the proper injection to ensure that the insulin gets in your dog’s body properly.
Can diabetes in dogs be reversed? In some cases, diabetes can be reversed, but you should know that it remains an incurable disease. Managing the symptoms and adhering to the treatment plan are crucial to give your pet a comfortable life. Above all, you should always consult the vet.
Does your dog have diabetes? How are you managing it? Share your thoughts below!