Could Your Dog have Diabetes?

Lindsey ZimmermanDog Health

dreamstime_m_44067810_2Did you know that canine diabetes usually occurs in senior dogs who are seven years or older? That approximately 1 in every 160 dogs has diabetes? That the rate of dog diabetes has tripled since 1970?

Diabetes is very prevalent in dog owners as well. More than 29.1 million people or 9.3% of Americans have diabetes with the largest percentage being senior citizens. Why does the onset correspond to older age? Because whether you are a dog or human, metabolism slows down as we age, and our exercise programs seem to falter. Fast food is so tempting because who wants to cook for just two people?

Good news? If you or your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, you and your dog can expect to live a long and healthy life. However, the disease needs to be managed correctly and monitored regularly which means some lifestyle changes.

What Is Canine Diabetes?
According to PetMd, “canine diabetes in dogs is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin.”  Although humans can get Type 1 or Type 2  diabetes as they age, dogs can only get Type 1 insulin dependent diabetes.

The Symptoms of Canine Diabetes

Although the symptoms can vary from dog to dog, here are the general symptoms your dog may exhibit if he/she has canine diabetes:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Fruity or sweet smelling breath
  • Appetite changes
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Acute onset blindness from cataracts

Other Causes of Dog Diabetes
Although the exact cause of dog diabetes is unknown, autoimmune disease, genetics, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can play a part in the development of the disease. Additionally, certain breeds are more at risk including Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and samoyeds.

Treatment for Canine Diabetes
In order to accurately diagnose if your dog has diabetes, your vet will do bloodwork and a urinalysis to measure glucose levels, along with a physical exam. Additionally, he/she will look for any secondary illnesses that could be mimicking diabetes. Ask your vet for detailed instructions on how to give your dog his injections … it’s not as scary as it seems! Also, you will need to give your dog the injections at the same time of day in addition to regular meals.

As obesity in dogs is a MAJOR cause of diabetes, talk to your vet about a good nutrition program. Exercise will help as well!

November is Pet Diabetes Month. If you suspect that your dog has diabetes, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Diabetes left untreated can cause cataracts and urinary tract infections.