Tackling Diabetes in Dogs
Older dogs, especially those who have gotten overweight are likely to suffer from diabetes. Like with humans, Type 1 diabetes in dogs is very severe as it requires a daily dose of insulin and makes survival highly dependent on it. Losing a family pet to diabetes is devastating, thus it is important to know as much as you can about the disease beforehand and how to tackle if it does occur. Even though diabetes isn’t curable it is treatable provided that is identified in time to allow your pet to live a long and happy life.
Dogs that are affected are usually hungry a lot, since the glucose produced by the body is too less and isn’t communicating with the brain enough to tell it that it’s received food. Since the insulin isn’t able to give organs and muscles the command to convert glucose to energy, the extra glucose gets passed out of the body creating a constant lack of energy, resulting in a lethargic and obese dog resulting in a vicious circle as one disease (obesity) leads to the other (diabetes). Another side effect of it is the increased number of times your pet will urinate causing more thirst.
Type 1 diabetes that is, the insulin dependent one is not usually caused by obesity. Obesity is usually considered the cause of Type 2 diabetes, which is not insulin dependent. This type of diabetes creates a resistance to the insulin already created by the body. The first step to managing diabetes should be to manage weight.
Can it occur in any dog?
Yes it can and at any age, however middle aged dogs are more prone to diabetes than others. Researchers have also estimated that mixed breed dogs are more prone to diabetes than pure breeds. Females and neutered dogs are also at higher risk.
What are the symptoms?
Diabetes can be a silent disease, however here a few symptoms you should watch out for:
Thirst: As mentioned above, the excessive urination causes an increased thirst.
Urination: Increased urination is a very common symptom as it affects not only the frequency but also the volume.
Hunger: If you notice an unprecedented hunger exhibited by your dog then you should definitely get him/her checked by a vet.
Anorexia: Hunger is an early sign, however once the disease has progressed a lot your dog may lose weight drastically resulting in anorexia.
Lethargy and Depression: The lack of insulin in TYPE 1 diabetes causes a lack of energy. Your pet will not want to play, be very quiet and will keep to himself. This is a sure symptom that there is something wrong.
Enlarged pupils, cataract, and bladder and kidney infection.
What are the causes?
There are a lot of causes why your pet may develop diabetes. A predominant one is genetic disposition. In simpler terms, some breeds are just wired that way and are more prone to developing diabetes than others. It also largely depends on age, gender, weight, diet, viral infections.
Obesity is also a cause for Type 2 diabetes (as known to humans) because it increases resistance to insulin.
Your pet’s diet also matters a lot. A diet rich in fat may lead to pancreatitis which is a huge risk factor for developing diabetes. It is important to keep a check on your pet’s diet and make sure that it is a balanced one. Visit a vet to know exactly what will affect your pet in the long run.
What can you as a pet parent do?
Treatment: It is important to understand the treatment plan of your pet. The goal that you and your vet should aim to achieve is to keep the treatment plan regular and modify it according to your dogs needs.
Home Monitoring: Make sure your diabetic dog has a regulated diet and that you make sure those glucose concentrations are regulated.
Exercise: Making sure your pet gets enough exercise as this will not only help lose weight but also to lower glucose levels. You should exercise your pet for the same amount of time and with the same amount of vigor as too much and too long a period of exercise can drastically decrease glucose levels in your pet.
Diabetes is a disease that you may not be able to predict or stop but one that you definitely can control to ensure that your pet leads a happy and healthy life.