There are two types of dog diabetes. By far, the most common kind is diabetes mellitus (DM), which is the result of a disruption of pancreatic function and abnormal regulation of blood sugar. The other type is diabetes insipidus (DI), symptoms of which are excessive thirst/drinking and the production of abnormal volumes of very dilute urine. Because diabetes insipidus is rare in dogs, this article will concentrate on diabetes mellitus.
- You can read about diabetes insipidus in more detail with this linked resource.
More About Diabetes Mellitus
Dog diabetes of the mellitus kind can be divided into three types:
- Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus – a result of the progressive destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Dogs with this (the most common type of diabetes) need insulin injections to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus – happens when the dog still has some insulin-producing cells, but insulin production is not enough. This form of diabetes typically occurs in obese senior dogs, and insulin injections will be required.
- Hormone-induced insulin resistance – rare and related to pregnancy or tumors that secrete certain hormones.
How Do You Know if a Dog Has Diabetes?
The four main signs that a dog may have uncomplicated diabetes mellitus are:
- An increase in thirst.
- More urination than normal.
- Loss of weight.
- An abnormally greater appetite.
The Role of Glucose
Glucose provides a large percentage of the energy needed by the body’s cells. Insulin instructs the cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. However, if the amount of insulin is inadequate, glucose has difficulty getting into the cells and instead builds up in the blood. In response to this seeming lack of glucose, the body begins to break down fat stores and protein for energy, resulting in weight loss. This apparent starvation causes the dog to consume more food, which is why you see what seems to be a contradiction – weight loss in a dog with a ravenous appetite! Further, the body excretes the excess glucose in the urine as a way to get rid of it. However, water is attracted to glucose causing the volume of urine produced to increase. To cope with dehydration, the dog laps up an increasing amount of water.
What Is the Treatment?
Dogs with the most common form of diabetes mellitus typically require two daily injections of insulin. Nutrition is also an important component of treatment. Generally speaking, the dog needs to be given the same food in the same amount on the same schedule each day. A responsible owner must make plans to ensure their dog receives proper treatment if they have to go away and leave their dog behind.
Is Hospitalization Required for Dog Diabetes?
At first, the dog may be hospitalized for a short time to deal with any immediate crisis and to begin insulin regulation. However, if a dog is so compromised that they have stopped eating and drinking for several days (a state called diabetic ketoacidosis), they may need a more extended period of intensive care.
- Technology is available for home glucose monitoring and urine evaluation.
What Is the Outlook for a Dog With Diabetes?
Once diabetes mellitus is appropriately regulated and treatment and monitoring are consistent, a dog’s prognosis for a good quality of life is quite good. Fortunately, diabetes does not necessarily mean a gradual decline in a dog’s health. However, a diabetic dog will require insulin for the rest of their life.
- Midlands Pet Care is here for you and your pet when the day comes to say goodbye. We will honor your dog with a caring burial or cremation. We also offer a selection of memorial items to remember your pet by.