Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, or sugar, in your dog’s blood. Diabetes results when the dog’s body makes too little insulin or when the body has difficulty responding to the insulin properly. Canine diabetes is quite common—anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs develops diabetes and those numbers are expected to increase. Any dog can develop diabetes but breeds that are most at risk are thought to be; Dachshunds, Cocker spaniels, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Toy poodles and Terriers. Diabetes in dogs is more common between the ages of 4 and 14 years old.
Knowing the signs of diabetes is the first step in protecting your dog’s health. If any of these signs describes your pet, speak with your veterinary surgeon about the possibility of diabetes: drinking more water than usual (polydipsia), urinates more frequently or has accidents in the house (polyuria), always seems hungry but maintains or loses weight (polyphagia) and has cloudy eyes (a sign of cataracts).
When testing for diabetes this can be diagnosed from a simple urine test which tests for glucose and ketones in the urine. If this is positive then the vet will monitor glucose levels with a blood test. Insulin is usually given to dogs and cats that have diabetes and this will be administered by either once or twice daily injections which you will shown how to administer by a vet or a nurse, sometimes it may be necessary for your pet to stay in the surgery for a few days to stabilize them depending how well they are when they are diagnosed and how they respond to insulin.
Diet plays a vital role in helping to keep your dog’s diabetes regulated. Ideally, your dog should be fed exactly the same diet every day and at the same times of day. A diabetic dog’s diet usually includes a source of good-quality protein, in addition to complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre to help slow absorption of glucose from the digestive system. It also usually has a low fat content.
Overall, a palatable and nutritious diet that minimizes fluctuations in blood glucose and helps your dog maintain a healthy weight is important for managing diabetes. Your veterinary surgeon can recommend a diet that’s best suited to the needs of your dog.
If you are concerned that your pet may have diabetes then please give us a call.