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Diabetes in Dogs

It is not easy to come to terms with the fact that your dog now has diabetes. This is one disease that cannot be cured and your dog is now destined to suffer from it till his/her last breath.

Just like in humans though, diabetes is a disease that can be managed well with proper care and nutrition. Thankfully diabetes in dogs is not a very widespread disease. In fact, statistics suggest that 1 in 10 dogs are likely to suffer from diabetes. Then again, since diabetes is chiefly a hereditary condition, it is likely that in the next decade, this number of affected dogs will increase.


Canine diabetes still continues to be primarily a disease of older dogs. Female dogs are more prone to developing diabetes because during the time of reproduction, their hormones become imbalanced. Obese dogs are also at a higher risk of developing this chronic disease. Generally speaking type I diabetes is suffered by younger dogs while type II diabetes affects senior dogs.

Dog diabetes is not that much different from the diabetes suffered by humans. Elderly dogs and dogs of mixed breeds are more susceptible to developing it. Fortunately, there has been enough research in this area to improve the health care available. Most of the diabetic care that dogs receive is based on the latest technology in the treatment of human diabetes.

Causes of Canine Diabetes

Just like in humans, dog diabetes is also caused due to hormonal imbalances. Dogs suffer from both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes and therefore the chief causes of diabetes in dogs is malfunctioning of the pancreas or insulin resistance in the body. Here are some of the causes of diabetes in dogs:

If a dog has parents that have diabetes, it is highly likely that the dog will be a victim itself. In such a case, the dog inherits the genetic coding of diabetes from its parents. In order to prevent the hereditary passing of genes which cause diabetes, it is best to breed dogs carefully, trying not to breed two carriers.

Infectious Diseases and Viruses
Though very rare, it is possible that an infectious disease or a virus, both of which are completely unrelated to diabetes, may trigger diabetes in a dog. Those diseases which affect the pancreas of the dog may indirectly also affect the secretion of insulin. If this happens, there are very low amounts of insulin secreted into the blood stream and an abnormal production of insulin causes diabetes. Cushing's disease, for instance, is a condition which affects the pancreas of the dog and therefore can cause diabetes.

Use of Steroids
A lot of dog owners, who take their dogs to dog shows and other such exhibitions, may make regular use of steroid shots. When taken in small doses, steroids do not cause any harm to the dog. However, when steroids are taken on a regular basis, it can affect the normal functioning of many of the body's organs, including the pancreas. This can again affect the synthesis of insulin, giving rise to diabetes.


Symptoms of Canine Diabetes

One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is excessive drinking as well as the associated urination. Though they are the primary symptoms of canine diabetes, they are not the only symptoms. As diabetes develops in dogs, it can cause many other complications. The dog begins to have a very poor coat and the skin may also become rough, dry and scaly. Weakness in the rear legs is another prominent sign of canine diabetes. Other symptoms of canine diabetes include vomiting and liver disease.

When dogs are suffering from diabetes, their immunity gets compromised and the dog becomes prone to secondary infections from viruses and bacteria. The dog may also experience severe dehydration and may develop a life threatening condition known as ketoacidosis. This is a condition where the internal biochemical balance of the dog gets disturbed.

If the diabetic condition of a dog is not regulated well, it can cause blindness and can cause renal problems as well. Changes in the weight of a dog are also something dog owners observe when their pet has diabetes. For the proper management of diabetes, dog owners are suggested to monitor the weight changes closely so that treatment can be given accordingly.

Prevention of Canine Diabetes

A regular and healthy diet is one of the most important things when it comes to prevention of canine diabetes. If your dog is genetically susceptible to diabetes, there is not much you can do about it. However, it has been seen that obese dogs are more prone to diabetes and therefore, it is best to make sure that your dog is fit. If your dog is overweight, keep it on a low fat, weight loss diet.

Annual checkups for your dog, especially when the dog is older, are very important. An ideal diet for your dog consists of high fiber and protein. Carbohydrates and fats should ideally be restricted in their diet. A regular feeding schedule is also extremely important when it comes to health and nutrition of the dog. The timing of their meals is almost as important as what the dogs consume during their meals, since this is an important factor that affects the level of insulin in the body.

This is a wonderful all-natural way to manage your dog's diabetes.

Treatment of Canine Diabetes

Like in humans, the correct way to approach canine diabetes is a healthy combination of diet and lifestyle changes. There are no oral medications that a canine is given for treating diabetes. Insulin injections are the chief form of treatment. Daily injections of insulin are important in order to maintain the glucose levels to a healthy value. For insulin to be most effective, it is given to the dog in the form of a subcutaneous injection. The injection is given daily and the diet of the dog is dispersed through the day accordingly. The injections are formulated in such a way that the absorption is very slow and the action is prolonged throughout the day.

There are three basic types of insulin preparations - isophane, lente and protamine zinc insulin. Each of these insulin preparations last for different durations in the dog's body and are therefore used at your veterinary doctor's discretion. The dosage and the type of insulin to be given to a dog usually depend on the breed type, the size and the health of the dog. Some dogs may simply need one injection of insulin a day, while there are others that may need two or more injections a day in order to keep the insulin in check.

For female dogs, a lot of dog owners prefer to spay the dog. This is very helpful for female dogs that suffer from diabetes since the interaction of insulin with other hormones decreases dramatically once the dog has been spayed. Further, this can even help in stabilizing the level of hormones.

Apart from the medical treatment of diabetes, a considerable amount of attention should also be paid to the diet of the dog. For obese dogs, loss of weight is a must. It is important for the dog to undergo proper exercising as well as a nutritionally balanced diet. A high fiber and high protein diet is ideal for the dog. Avoid giving the dog too much of carbohydrates and completely cut off any sugars in the diet.

Along with the medical and dietary interventions, another important thing to consider, when it comes to dog diabetes, is the regular monitoring of the dog. Since the blood glucose levels of the dog continue to fluctuate, it is important to make sure that the dog gets checked regularly. As a responsible pet owner, you should also keep observing the symptoms of the dog and note down any unusual change in the condition. This is important when discussing with your doctor, since this can really help the doctor in assessing your dog's condition.

Diabetes in Dogs - Summary

Dog diabetes is chiefly a hereditary or hormonal condition in which the glucose levels of the body become imbalanced. Dog diabetes is not a treatable disorder. However, with proper care, the symptoms can be managed to a large extent. It is important along with the medications, to introduce some lifestyle as well as dietary changes to the dog's life.

There are certain breeds which are genetically at a higher risk of developing diabetes and therefore special care should be taken by the owners of such breeds. Apart from this, it is also important to have regular health check ups for dogs that are prone to developing diabetes, so that the condition, if present, can be treated as soon as it arises.

The veterinary doctor decides the type and the frequency of the medication to be given to the dog, according to the size, age and breed type of the dog. There are several different preparations of insulin that are available commercially as well, from which the doctor usually prescribes the insulin preparation best suited for the diabetic dog.

Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.