We all love our dogs don’t we? And as responsible dog owners we want to ensure that our dogs are as healthy as possible. Well sometimes, your dog can seem fine, but can actually be experiencing health problems when you don’t even know it!
Unfortunately, diabetes in dogs is becoming a growing epidemic. So we want to raise awareness among our readers and inform them about what to look out for,so that you can take the necessary action quickly.
What is Canine Diabetes?
The insulin and glucose combination in your dog’s body is not working properly and leads to two major problems:
(a) Deficiency in Insulin Diabetes
Here your dog is just not producing enough insulin for optimum health. This is usually a problem with your dog’s pancreas. The pancreas may not be working properly or even damaged. If this is the case with your dog then you will need you to give them insulin shots every day. Insulin deficient diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in dogs.
(b) Resistance to Insulin Diabetes
In this situation your dog’s pancreas will produce some insulin but their body does not use it in the right way. The cells in your dog’s body do not respond properly (if at all) to the message that the generated insulin produces. When this happens there is no “pull out” of glucose from the blood to the cells.
If your dog is obese or older in years then they can suffer from this type of diabetes. Also if you have a female dog then they can have temporary diabetes problems during the time that they are pregnant or in heat.
Understanding Dog Diabetes
Now that you know about the two types of diabetes that can affect your dog it will help you if you understand exactly what is going on in your dog’s body. Sugar diabetes or its medical name “diabetes mellitus” is the most common type of diabetes that dogs suffer from.
Sugar diabetes affects the way in which your dog’s body converts the food they have eaten into energy. In other words it is a problem with your dog’s metabolism. This is where the connection between insulin and glucose is so important.
Your dog’s cells need glucose to provide that essential energy to them. After they have eaten, their body breaks down the digested food and glucose generates from some of the nutrients. This glucose is critical for your dog’s energy levels and for their organs and body cells. The glucose produced gets absorbed in the intestines and then into the bloodstream where it will circulate around your dog’s body.
Now insulin has to do its job which is to regulate the delivery of fuel into the right places. The production of insulin is by your dog’s pancreas, and it performs the role of a gatekeeper. It will instruct cells to take a certain level of glucose as well as other nutrients from the blood so that this converts into energy.
Does that make sense? OK great, let’s move on to how you can spot whether your dog has diabetes.
Symptoms of Dog Diabetes
The main reason that you may not be aware that your dog has diabetes is that the symptoms often develop over time. Here are the most common and identifiable symptoms of diabetes in dogs that you need to look out for:
1. Is Your Dog Urinating More?
When a dog has diabetes, there will be high levels of blood sugar in their bodies that are outside of the cells where it should be. This excess often turns into urine, and it will mean that your dog will need to urinate more often.
Have you noticed an increase in the number of times that your dog urinates in a day? Perhaps there have been a few “urine accidents” lately and you have been unable to figure out why this is happening.
2. Is Your Dog Drinking More?
If you haven’t really noticed that your dog is urinating more often then you may have seen that they are drinking a lot more water. Are you having to re-fill their water dish more often than usual?
An increased level of urinating and drinking are something that you must look out for as they are the two most common signs of canine diabetes. If your dog is getting on in years then make sure that you check for both of these activities.
These symptoms can also be indicative of other health problems too, so if your dog is experiencing these symptoms then get them to your veterinarian as soon as possible
3. Is Your Dog Eating More?
When dog diabetes takes hold, one of the outcomes is that the amino acids that the cells in your dog’s body needs are not making it. Sometimes the amino acids get to the cells but then there isn’t proper utilization. This will make your dog hungrier than usual.
Amino acids play an essential role in metabolism. If amino acids are lacking or not utilized properly due to diabetes then this can lead the brain to believe that the body does not have enough protein. This will make your dog want to eat more.
4. Is Your Dog Losing Weight?
This might seem a strange one if your dog is eating more! But the problem is that with diabetes in dogs, their bodies do not receive the critical nutrients that they require, because the energy from the food they eat isn’t getting around their body. So, this can actually lead your pooch to lose weight even though they are eating more.
5. Is Your Dog Constantly Tired or Lacking in Energy?
Diabetes in dogs can cause your dog to be lacking in energy or tire more quickly. They may not want to run any more, or even be too tired to go on those walks with you that they used to love.
This will all be because your dog’s cells are not getting that all important glucose. If your dog is not as active as they used to be and spends more time sleeping than normal then this could be a sign that they have diabetes.
6. How is Your Dog’s Vision?
One of the most devastating effects of diabetes in dogs is that it can make them blind. Are you noticing any issues with your dog’s vision? Are they starting to bump into things or behave in a strange way related to impaired vision? Maybe your dog is gets startled more easily, becoming more apprehensive, not wanting to go out at night and not being as playful as usual.
Your dog may start to develop cataracts, which is sadly the case for 75% of dogs within 9 months of their diabetes diagnosis. So, if your best friend’s eye lenses become cloudy…. ACT FAST!
An early referral to an ophthalmologist could allow surgical removal of the cataracts and save your beloved pet’s sight!
7. Has Your Dog Been Suffering from Urinary Tract Infections?
With dogs and diabetes, it is fairly common that urinary tract infections (UTI) will develop. The reason for this is that their urine has more sugar in it than it should have, and this increases the risk of unwanted bacteria growing in your dog’s bladder.
Here are some symptoms to look for to see if your dog has a UTI:
- Increase in urination
- Urinating in the home
- Your dog’s urine contains blood
- Your dog strains when urinating
- Your dog cries out when urinating
- Your dog licks their genital area a lot more than usual
8. Other Possible Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
- Your dog may seem to be a bit depressed.
- Your dog may also start to vomit.
- Is your dog experiencing any seizures?
As your dog ages, it’s even more important to check them regularly for these symptoms, so that you can catch the disease early.
If you are in any doubt, then please take a trip to your veterinarian and have them do blood and urine tests for excessive levels of glucose in urine and blood.It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our beloved pets’ health!
Wishing you and your canine companions the best of health – always!
Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team