Do dogs get diabetes?
We have all heard about diabetes in human beings or potentially know somebody who suffers from diabetes (type 1 or type 2), but we may have never thought this disease could affect our furry friends - but it can! Dogs, along with horses, apes and cats to name just a few other animals, can all fall victim to developing diabetes. The faster that it is recognised, along with the correct treatment, will play a massive role in ensuring your dog still maintains a healthy, happy life!
by Abby Miller, Paws in Work blogger.
what is diabetes?
Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that prevents the body's ability to produce enough insulin. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body and insulin is fundamental in the absorption of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. This means that a diabetic dog (or human) cannot control their sugar levels and, when blood sugar levels elevate, this can cause hyperglycemia (a high rise in blood sugar levels).
The most common diabetes in dogs is called ‘insulin deficiency diabetes’ which is when the dog's pancreas is not producing enough insulin or the pancreas itself is damaged. When a dog eats, the glucose in their food is transported to their cells by insulin. Not having enough insulin, means the glucose isn't broken down or transported around the body efficiently which has adverse side effects.
why do dogs get diabetes?
As with humans, there is no clear evidence that suggests why dogs get diabetes. However, a couple of reasons could be:
Genetics - if diabetes was carried by either the mother or father of the dog, this can be hereditary and pass down from generations. This is why it is always good to understand your pups full health before buying a puppy.
Obesity - evidence shows that overweight dogs are more prone to developing diabetes as obesity causes cells in your dog's body to become more resilient to insulin.
Dogs are more likely to develop diabetes in their senior years and it is also more common in female dogs too.
how do I know if my dog has diabetes?
We will discuss in this section signs and symptoms to look out for in your dog which may indicate he/she could have diabetes. If you grow severely concerned at any point, it is always best to speak to your local vet. They will potentially ask for you to take in a urine sample for testing and in some cases, blood tests.
- Excessive thirst
- Increase in urination
- Unexplained weight loss
- Appetite changes
- ‘Sweet-smelling’ breath
- Tiredness/lack of energy
- Urinary tract infections
- Loss of eyesight
Unfortunately there isn't a cure for diabetes, however, there are medications in place to help keep your pooches diabetes under control. Keeping your dog on a healthy balanced diet with little sugary snacks is one step towards preventing diabetes (although this is not guaranteed!). Even having your dog neutered at the correct time for them can also reduce the risk of developing diabetes. (If you do find out your dog is diabetic, the excess sugar levels may make them prone to other health issues such as urinary tract infections and issues with their cataracts).
Speaking with your vet is essential as they will be able to give you the best suited guidance and treatment options for your pooch. These may include:
- Regular insulin shots
- Keeping an eye on your dogs symptoms/any changes
- Regular routine check ups with your vet
- Specific food plans to help your dog manage its diabetes
Knowing your dog and their habits really is the key to curbing diabetes early, and with the right medication and treatment, your pooch will still be able to live a very happy, healthy lifestyle!
For anything else puppy-welfare related, please check out our blogs ‘puppy-welfare section’.