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Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes is a devastating disease that affects many of our lifestyles and diet choices. However, diabetes is now also occurring in dogs. The most common form of canine diabetes occurs in 1 out of 500 dogs and is typically seen between the ages of 4 – 14 years of age. It can develop in both males and females.

What is diabetes?

Every cell in our body requires energy. This is the same for a dog’s cells. The cells of a dog requires a certain type of energy which is gathered through the food that they consume. The body produces this energy by turning food that is digested into useable energy for the cells. This energy is known as glucose. Glucose travels in our dog’s bloodstream and individual cells remove some of the glucose to use as energy. The substance that allows the cells to extract the glucose from the blood is a protein known as insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas.The problem arises when no insulin or very little amounts of insulin is being produced. The cells end up starving due to lack of energy and all the glucose starts to build up in our bloodstream.

The most common type of diabetes is known as Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas does not produce any insulin at all. Without insulin to extract the glucose from the bloodstream cells will start to starve and glucose will rise in the bloodstream. As a result the brain sends out a signal throughout the dog’s body telling it to eat more. Other cells in the body try to obtain glucose by breaking down fats and muscle protein and then the liver can break those down into glucose. Now there is even more glucose in the bloodstream and less insulin available. When glucose levels are too high, it leaks into the dog’s urine. Healthy dogs never have sugar in their urine unless they are diabetic.

Glucose in the urine attracts water like a sponge; all of the urination makes the dog thirsty causing it to drink a lot of water.

Risks of diabetes in dogs

Certain dogs have a higher chance of having diabetes:

  • Female dogs that do not have their ovaries removed (unsprayed) have a slightly higher risk of acquiring diabetes.
  • Certain breeds are also more likely to develop diabetes such as: Samoyed, pugs, keeshonden, golden retrievers, and beagles to name a few.

However, there are many risks after a dog has acquired diabetes.

  • Many diabetic dogs will be blind even if their diabetes is carefully treated. This condition is known as cataracts. It causes the lens in the dog’s eyes to turn white which makes it difficult for light to pass through the lens resulting in a blind dog.
  • Cataracts is developed in diabetic dogs because of their high blood glucose levels which causes water to be retained in the lens of the dog’s eyes. This condition causes the eyes to swell, and eventually rupture of the lens fibers will occur.
  • Caaracts is not reversible once it begins.

Symptoms of Diabetes

It is important to notice these symptoms because the earlier the owner detects symptoms of diabetes in dogs, the less fatal it could be.

Common symptoms of diabetes in dogs include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Vision problems

Causes of diabetes

The main reason why a dog develops diabetes is believed to be heredity. If a parent has diabetes then most likely the child will have it. Other reasons that are believed to trigger diabetes are infectious disease and viruses or that it was triggered by a different disease that the dog suffered a while back.

Diagnosing Canine Diabetes

To diagnose your canine, veterinarians will need to look at three factors:

  • Does your dog have symptoms of diabetes mellitus? These symptoms would be excessive thirst, hunger, urination and weight loss.
  • Is their blood glucose level to high?
  • Is glucose present in the urine?

Many older diabetic dogs could have underlying medical problems that need to be treated which is why a veterinarian may also suggest additional tests should be completed.

Remedies for Diabetes

As of this moment, there is no known cure for diabetes in both humans and animals; the symptoms can only be treated. Seeking possible solutions for diabetes is very important because it can decrease the risk for your dog and also prolong a healthy life.

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Disclaimer: 1st Pet Naturals is an education resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet is taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.