Diabetes is one of the most common hormonal diseases in dogs
Diabetes in dogs can occur as young as 18 months of age. Most dogs are between seven and ten when canine diabetes diagnosis is made.
Approximately 70% of dogs with diabetes are female.
Any breed can be affected, but dachshunds, poodles, miniature schnauzers, cairn terriers, and springer spaniels are at increased risk.
Interestingly, diabetes is seen very infrequently in Cocker Spaniels, shepherds, collies, and boxers.
Canine Diabetes Signs
What signs might your dog be exhibiting if he/she is diabetic?
There are 3 clinical signs to look for:
- Diabetic patients usually show a marked increase in their water intake, along with an accompanying increase in urination. They frequently have excellent appetites, yet are losing weight. Finally, the sudden appearance of cataracts in the eyes suggests the possibility of underlying diabetes.
- As with most conditions, it is important to diagnose diabetes early in the disease. If you observe any of the above signs in your dog, don’t hesitate to get her to your family veterinarian. Left undiagnosed and untreated, diabetic dogs can develop life-threatening secondary complications due to the metabolic derangements in their body.
- The diagnosis of diabetes is generally fairly simple. The presence of a high blood sugar level ( hyperglycemia ) and sugar in the urine (glucosuria) along with the appropriate clinical signs confirms the diagnosis. In dogs, normal blood sugar levels are 80 to 120, I have seen diabetic patients with values as high as 600.
Although diagnosing diabetes is not demanding, treating it certainly is. That said, it is a treatable disease in dogs and most diabetic dogs can lead very high-quality lives. Virtually all dogs with diabetes require insulin therapy. Just as in humans, the insulin is administered by injection. Most dogs require insulin twice daily to adequately control their disease.
Before you throw up your hands and think you could never give your dog shots, that almost all owners are capable of properly administering insulin to their dogs. The needles used are very small, making the injections quite comfortable.
A complete discussion of insulin therapy is beyond scope here, but there are a few key points you should know.
There are many different types of insulin available, be sure you discuss what type is appropriate for your dog with your veterinarian. Insulin should be refrigerated, and mixed gently before administration.
This is done by carefully rolling the vial back and forth between the palms. Another important consideration is proper disposal of used insulin syringes and needles.
Don’t throw them in the trash! Your veterinarian may be able to take care of disposing of the medical waste for you.
Complexities of Diabetes
Diabetes is a serious and complex disease. Until a “cure” is discovered, diabetic dogs and people will continue to require insulin therapy.
This treatment demands close collaboration and communication between owner and veterinarian to make it a success.
Treating diabetes can be very rewarding for patient and owner alike, and these dogs can and do live normal lives.
If you observe any of the signs of diabetes in your dog, don’t delay – take him or her into your veterinarian for an examination.