Could your dog be living with diabetes?
If you didn’t know your dog could develop diabetes, you’re not alone. Many owners do not realise that diabetes can affect pets too, so learning that your dog has the disease can leave you with many questions.
While there’s no cure for diabetes, proper care to prevent the complications of untreated diabetes, such as blindness and muscle weakness, can help your dog live a happy, healthy and active life.
In one type of diabetes there is not enough insulin being produced by the pancreas, making it difficult for the body to absorb blood sugar. In the second type, the body has trouble using the insulin it has made properly.
Insulin is what helps the body break down sugars and create glucose, a type of sugar that can be absorbed by the body’s cells. Without sufficient insulin, the body is not able to break down sugars that are eaten, causing that sugar to remain in the bloodstream without being absorbed by cells. When sugar accumulates in the bloodstream, the body tries to flush it out by passing the sugars through urine, leading to signs that can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe if not properly treated.
The most important risk factors for diabetes in dogs are ageing, genetic predisposition and obesity. Additional risk factors for diabetes in dogs are physical inactivity and an indoor lifestyle.
Knowing the signs of diabetes is the first step in protecting your dog’s health. If any of these statements describes your dog, talk to your veterinarian. The dog:
- Drinks more water than usual.
- Urinates more frequently or has ‘accidents’ in the house.
- Is less active and/or sleeps more.
- Has thinning, dry and dull hair.
The more you know about diabetes, the better you will be able to work with your vet to successfully manage your dog’s health.
When evaluating your dog for diabetes, your vet may ask about these signs and will check your dog’s general health to rule out the possibility of other diseases or infections. Your vet may test your dog’s urine for the presence of glucose or its breakdown products and measure the glucose level in your dog’s blood.
A diabetes diagnosis only becomes definite when glucose is found at a persistently high level in blood and is also detected in urine.