Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects not only humans but animals as well. Yes, diabetes does affect animals too, and this may come as a surprise to some people. It affects animals such as dogs, cats, pigs, apes, and horses, just to name a few. Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed.
This article on diabetes focuses on dogs. We will look at how diabetes affects dogs, the symptoms or signs that show that your dog with diabetes is dying, and the treatment options available.
Diabetes in dogs
Diabetes mellitus, also known as “sugar diabetes,” is the most common kind of diabetes in dogs. It’s a metabolic problem. (The process through which the body transforms food into energy is referred to as metabolism)
Diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects the pancreas, an abdominal organ with two primary functions. The pancreas’ primary function is to create digestive enzymes. Its second function is to produce insulin and distribute it to tissues throughout the body to regulate blood sugar or glucose. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter the body’s cells that require it for energy, and those cells starve.
A failure in the generation of insulin or in the body’s sensitivity to insulin causes diabetes in dogs. As a result, blood sugar levels rise over normal, which can lead to increased drinking, urination, and weight loss.
Excessive water drinking and urine are two of the most evident indicators that your dog may have diabetes.
Symptoms of dogs with diabetes
Diabetes in dogs can cause the following symptoms, which vary depending on how far along the disease is in your dog.
- Extreme thirst. The dog may consume more water and empty the water bowl more frequently.
- Increased urination. The dog may demand numerous trips outside and begin to have “accidents” within the house. Increased urination (and thirst) occurs as the body attempts to eliminate excess sugar by excreting it in the urine together with water that binds to the sugar.
- Loss of weight. Despite eating normal meals, the dog can lose weight. This is due to the dog’s ineffective conversion of nutrients from its meal.
- Increase in appetite. Even if the dog eats a typical amount of food, the dog may feel constantly hungry because the body’s cells aren’t getting enough glucose.
Advanced warning signs Symptoms of diabetes can get more severe as the disease progresses, and they can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Insufficient energy
- Depressed mindset
Health risks are present. Diabetes can have serious consequences for a dog’s health, which is why early detection and treatment are critical. Diabetes can have the following effects on a dog’s health:
- Cataracts are a type of cataract (leading to blindness)
- Liver enlargement
- Infections of the urethra
- Kidney disease
Signs your dog with diabetes is dying
Diabetes in dogs is a serious condition. Even with proper treatment, dogs can become insulin resistant and require greater and higher doses of the drug until it no longer works. When this happens, dogs might become malnourished as a result of their weight loss.
They may also have brain or nerve damage, and important organs may begin to shut down. Not to mention that these dogs will be uncomfortable and may refuse to eat or drink, exacerbating the condition.
The following are symptoms that a diabetic dog is dying:
- Seizures or tremors
- Loss of appetite
- Not drinking
- Weakness or lethargy
- Incoordination, stumbling, falling, or not wanting to get up
- Severe weight loss and loss of muscle
- Abnormal heart rate
- Irregular breathing or difficulty breathing
There are two main complications when treating your dog for diabetes. Diabetes complications in dogs can result from either no therapy or improper treatment of the disease. Let’s take a closer look at both of them.
Complications with no treatment
If a dog with diabetes continues untreated and blood glucose levels remain high, cells that rely on glucose for energy will begin to rely on fat and protein to nourish themselves. A dog will lose weight and muscular mass as a result of this.
Stress, surgery, fasting, infection, or an underlying health condition mixed with low insulin levels can produce ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening acute disease characterized by rapid breathing, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting, or sweet-smelling breath.
Ketone testing sticks should always be on hand for diabetic animals, and owners should test their dog’s urine if any of the above occurs. If the dog’s urine contains ketones, an emergency veterinarian should be contacted right once.
Another problem with not treating diabetes is that the brain and central nervous system rely only on glucose for energy. Brain tissue and nerves can be badly injured or starved without the support of insulin. Impairment, forgetfulness, and lack of coordination are all evident indicators that your dog with diabetes is dying.
Cataracts are a typical occurrence in diabetic dogs. Cataracts induce cloudiness in a dog’s eye, making it difficult to see and, in severe cases, resulting in blindness. While cataracts aren’t lethal, blindness is a leading cause of euthanasia in diabetic dogs since their quality of life suffers.
Even if your puppy has been accurately diagnosed with diabetes, the problems do not end there. Many components of treatment, in fact, can be harmful to your dog. This usually involves improper insulin dosing or failing to stick to a rigorous schedule.
Low blood sugar is referred to as hypoglycemia. It may appear strange at first that this may be a diabetes problem, given that we’ve just discussed how diabetes is defined by elevated blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, is a common adverse effect of giving a diabetic dog a high amount of insulin.
If a puppy receives too much insulin at once, it may eliminate too much glucose from the bloodstream, leaving the brain and other tissues dependent on glucose. Again, this essentially starves these tissues.
Insulin Dosage Errors
Other diabetic treatment mistakes include incorrect insulin dosages, poor meals, and failure to follow a regimen. All of these things can cause blood sugar levels to swing dramatically from high to low, causing organ and tissue damage.
That’s why dogs with diabetes should have their blood sugar levels checked on a frequent basis to ensure they’re getting the right dose of insulin at the right time to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
What Can Make a Dog at Risk for Diabetes?
Diabetes can affect dogs of any age, but it is more common in middle-aged and elderly canines. When diagnosed, most dogs are 5 years old or older.
Female dogs who have not been spayed are twice as likely to develop diabetes as male canines.
Chronic or recurrent pancreatitis (pancreatic inflammation) can cause substantial damage to the organ, leading to diabetes.
Obesity increases insulin resistance and increases the risk of pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.
Medications containing steroids. When used in excess, these can lead to diabetes.
Cushing’s disease is caused by the body’s overproduction of steroids, which can lead to diabetes.
Other medical issues
Diabetes is assumed to be caused by autoimmune illnesses and viral infections.
Diabetes can affect any breed or mixed breed, and heredity appears to play a role in increased or decreased risk.
Dietary Treatment for Diabetes in Dogs
The majority of diabetic dogs will require daily insulin injections under the skin, which the owner will have to learn to administer. Although it’s fair to be concerned about doing so, it’s not as difficult as it may appear. It can easily become a short and painless daily ritual for both the dog and the owner.
Your diabetic dog’s diet will be recommended by your veterinarian. This will usually include some high-quality protein, as well as fiber and complex carbohydrates to assist decrease glucose absorption. A low-fat diet may also be recommended by your veterinarian.
It is especially crucial for diabetic dogs to maintain a moderate but constant exercise regimen to avoid unexpected spikes or decreases in glucose levels.
Diabetes is a dangerous condition in dogs. Consult your veterinarian if your dog’s appetite, water consumption, or weight has changed. Diabetes can be controlled with a combination of diet, exercise, and insulin. It’s crucial to remember, however, that diabetes treatment is lifelong and requires constant monitoring.
Frequently asked questions
How long do diabetic dogs live?
If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes early and survives the first three months, it can be expected to live for several years. A dog with diabetes has an average lifespan of two years.
Many dogs who die young from diabetes do so because the disease is left untreated. It’s difficult for your dog to recuperate if they’ve become severely unwell from diabetes because there are frequent problems from concerns or treatments.
Do diabetic dogs get blind?
Diabetes can cause cataracts in dogs, which can lead to blindness. Cataracts produce cloudiness in the eyes of dogs, making it harder for them to see well.
Although cataracts are not lethal, they do reduce your dog’s quality of life dramatically. This is one of the most common reasons people put their diabetic dogs to sleep.