Diabetes in dogs, contrary to a lot of misconception, is a very common illness in the dog community. It is also referred to as Diabetes mellitus, DM, or sugar diabetes, and although most dogs can easily adapt to it if they are treated properly, many owners cannot. It will take a lot of patience and very loving care by an owner, and once your dog does develop it, you are their only hope of surviving it with the proper maintenance and treatments.
This illness is caused as the result of a decreased production of insulin by your dog, or a decreasing function of the insulin. Insulin in your dog is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and it helps glucose move the blood of your dog into the cells of their body. Once it is reaches the cells, it is then used as energy. It is considered to be a chronic condition that impairs their body's ability to metabolize sugar, and it comes in two forms.
The first form is referred to as Type I-DM, and this is where your dog's body does not produce enough insulin as the result of interference as well as destruction of the cells of the pancreas. With this type, it will take additional insulin, in the forms of injections, to properly control it. The second form is referred to as Type II-DM, and with form, although there is enough insulin being produced, there is something that interferes with its utilization. However, it is widely held that over 90 percent of all cases of Diabetes in dogs in Type I-DM.
Affected Breeds and Other Factors:
Diabetes in dogs can and does affect any breed, but there are some breeds, as well as some conditions or associated diseases, that will place your dog at a much higher degree of risk. Most dogs that are affected with Diabetes will begin to show the symptoms between the ages of 7 and 9 years old. However, there is also another age bracket at a very high risk; very young dogs as well as puppies. Juvenile-onset Diabetes can occur in dogs less than one year old, and can affect either sex.
However, it is also widely held that in the juvenile form females are affected at nearly a two to one ration over males. The breeds at the highest risk of any type of Diabetes include Miniature and Toy Poodles, Pugs, Miniature Schnauzers, Australian Terriers, as well as Samoyeds. Bichon Frise, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Keeshonds, as well as Spitz breeds also seem to be at a higher degree of risk. However, there are also other factors that can make any breed more susceptible to developing Diabetes.
Of these risks, obesity leads that list as well as any dog that has had two or more attacks of pancreatitis. If your dog has had Cushing disease or has been treated with glucocorticoids, this also places them at a much higher risk of developing this illness.
Unlike many diseases or illness that your dog faces, Diabetes does not have a long list of symptoms or signs that they will show you. By far and away the two most common signs that your dog may have diabetes are a very sudden increase in thirst that will naturally be followed by an increase in urination. Your dog's weight will almost always change with this illness as well; however, it can go either way. Some dogs that have held a normal weight for their entire lifetime may suddenly start to become heavy to the point of being obese. Other dogs may do just the opposite, and despite a very healthy appetite, will start to lose weight.
However, none of these symptoms may fully alert you that your dog has Diabetes, but the next ones will. Most dogs that develop Diabetes will also develop cataracts, and as a result, their eyes will appear very cloudy and they will start to lose their vision. If your dog also starts to lose energy and develops a tattered like appearance, these are also real warning signs.
One of the most difficult tasks with Diabetes in dogs in not how they will react to treatments; it will be how you react as an owner. Before any type of treatment begins, it is extremely important for any owner to be both informed as well as committed to the time it is going to take to control this illness.
The first thing to understand is that once your dog has been diagnosed, it is going to take several weeks in most all cases to determine the right insulin dosage for your dog. In other words, this is not a one size fits all type of situation, as your veterinarian will have to run several tests before the correct dosage is determined. Even after this is done, it may have to be altered slightly and several times as your dog adjusts. Once this has been determined, the insulin will have to be given twice a day in most cases. These dosages will also have to be given at specific times, and most likely for the rest of their lives.
The insulin must also be handled correctly; it must be refrigerated and it cannot be shaken. There is also a certain way that it must be given and the type of insulin as well as the syringe that is used cannot be changed unless your veterinarian changes it. Also, both the type of food as well as the time that you feed your dog must be very consistent, as well as their exercise routine. You will also have to monitor your dog daily and if any changes occur, your will have to have them reexamined. You will also have to be very aware of the emergency signs to watch for.
Low blood sugar will occur if too much insulin is given in relation to their food intake, and if your dog develops what is referred to as ketoacidosis, this is an emergency situation. This is caused by the blood glucose levels suddenly elevating, and will result in your dog vomiting and becoming extremely weak. However, there is one other factor that all owners should know about Diabetes: it is much better to have a blood sugar level that is too high than one that is too low.
Diabetes in dogs can never be cured, at least not yet, but it can very easily be managed if you are willing to make the commitment. If you are not, you will have to make a very difficult decision and give your dog to someone that is, or make the most difficult of all decisions.
Insulin is a hormone that can very easily become deactivated. Because of this, the only way to treat Diabetes is with injections. There are actually several different types of insulin that can be used to treat Diabetes in dogs, and each type has several different factors. This includes the source it is from, the actual length of time it takes to activate, as well as the frequency it has to be given. In most cases, the insulin given will be HPH, or Humulin-N or Novolin-N. The first dosage will be given by your veterinarian, where they will measure the blood sugar and start the adjustments as needed. These adjustments can take several weeks to become fully effective for your special dog, so you will need to be patient.
Diabetes in dog's next step will be for you to learn how to give the injections, but your veterinarian and their staff will be very patient and detailed in training you. It is really quite simple, but from there on it will have to become extremely routine, as even the smallest of changes could affect your dog. If you travel a lot for business or other reasons and do not take your dog, you will have to make the proper arrangements. Your dog can very easily adjust to these treatments, but the real question is; can you?