What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs due to malfunction of the endocrine glands. Once the pancreas fails to secrete the right level
of insulin needed by the dog to utilise all of the glucose produced by the body, the problem occurs. The causes include heredity, obesity and the administering of certain medication. Also older and bigger dogs are more susceptible to dog diabetes than smaller breeds. Obese female dogs are even more prone to diabetes.
Types of diabetes
There are two types of diabetes: diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus. Lack of vasopressin, which is an anti-diuretic hormone that controls the kidney’s absorption of water, leads to diabetes insipidus. Insulin deficiency leads to diabetes mellitus or ‘sugar diabetes’ wherein the dog’s body cannot metabolise sugar well. It strikes approximately 1 in 500 dogs and is more common and dangerous.
Diabetes mellitus has two groups: Type I and Type II diabetes.
Type I diabetes: It is also referred to as juvenile dog diabetes as it happens in the early age of the dog’s life.
Type II diabetes: It happens with middle and senior aged dogs.
Symptoms of diabetes
Symptoms include high blood sugar levels because the animal’s body is unable to break down and use glucose properly. This inability causes sugar to appear in the urine which causes an excessive amount of urination. The dog thus drinks excessive amount of water. Diabetes mellitus may lead to weight loss in a dog, even after a good diet.
Dogs can also show symptoms of poor coat, liver disease, vomiting, weakness in the rear legs, secondary bacterial infections and dehydration. A life threatening condition known as ketoacidosis can be developed. A diabetic dog can also be inflicted by kidney problems and is prone to blindness.
Diagnosis of diabetes
Blood tests and urine tests help in diagnosing diabetes. The normal levels of blood sugar in dogs are 70 – 150 mg/dl but a diabetic dog’s blood sugar will be more than 200 mg/dl. Your veterinarian will be checking your dog’s urine for glucose.
Treatment of diabetes
The treatment will include right diet and insulin therapy. Your dog might be given a diet, which is high in fibre and complex carbohydrates. This will avoid glucose from increasing after meals and help in regulating blood glucose.
Insulin therapy is done through injections. Your veterinarian will advise on the type of food, amount, times of the day, to give it. Food will be given at least in two feeds. The morning one will be given with the insulin dose and the second one will be given during the peak blood glucose times as determined by your veterinarian.
With regular visit to the veterinarians, monitor the dog’s weight and general health. Providing your pet with the right amount of care will totally be depended on the veterinarian and pet parents.
(The author is CEO/MD of Provimi Animal Nutrition India)