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Diabetes in Dogs: How do Dogs Get Diabetes?

Q & A: How do Dogs Get Diabetes?

Dog diabetes seems to be tied to obesity as well as aging. Dogs get diabetes when the connection between glucose and insulin are not working properly.

Keep reading to learn more about symptoms, treatment, and life expectancy.

CC Image “Cooper Town” courtesy of Jimmy brown/Flickr – Thx Cooper (& Jimmy!)

Did you know that dogs can get diabetes?

It’s true.

In fact, it’s a problem that seems to be on the rise among dogs.

It seems to be tied to obesity as well as aging, but luckily – it is preventable.

But you might be wondering:

  • How do dogs get diabetes?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • If my dog has diabetes, how can I treat it?
  • And most importantly…what kind of life can I expect my fur baby to have?

These are all very important questions, and you came to the right place for the answers.

What Is Diabetes In Dogs?

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic, metabolic disorder that can affect the way your dog turns food into energy.

Dogs get diabetes when the connection between glucose and insulin are not working properly and actually comes in two forms.

1. Insulin Deficiency in Dogs

There is the insulin-deficiency form of diabetes in dogs, which means that your dog doesn’t produce sufficient means of insulin.

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This is caused by a damaged or improperly functioning pancreas and is the most common form of dog diabetes.

If your dog has this kind of diabetes, he will need shots every day.

2. Insulin Resistance in Dogs

There is also the insulin-resistant form of diabetes in dogs, in which the pancreas produces insulin, but it isn’t used by the dog’s body the way that it should be.

If the cells don’t respond to the messages that insulin sends, then glucose can’t be pulled into the cell.

This most often happens in older dogs that are overweight and inactive.

What Are The Symptoms of Diabetes In Dogs?

There are signs and symptoms of diabetes that dog parents can notice in both the early and later stages of the disease.

Since you know your pet better than anyone does, you should visit your vet if you see any of these signs, especially if they come on quickly.

The need to urinate will be greatly increased at the onset of diabetes.

You might notice that your dog is begging to go outside more often than usual and he might even start to have accidents inside the house. This is often accompanied by an excessive thirst as the body tries hard to get rid of sugar excess through the urinary tract.

You might notice that your dog is hungrier than usual.

This happens because he isn’t getting enough glucose into his cells, even if he is eating the same amount he has always eaten.

On the other hand, you can also see weight loss even with his food portions being the same.

If nutrients aren’t being converted properly in the body, then he won’t be nourished and weight loss is imminent.

In advanced stages of diabetes, all these symptoms can get worse and can eventually be accompanied by other, more severe symptoms.

If your dog experiences a vast lack of energy, vomiting, an attitude that is severely depressed, or if he completely loses his appetite, it’s definitely time to get him to your vet.

At this point, the effects of the disease can begin to take their toll on the inside of his body.

His liver and kidneys can be affected, which will lead to more serious health threats like kidney or liver disease.

How Do You Treat A Dog with Diabetes?

After your dog receives a diagnosis of diabetes, the next step is to treat and manage the disease.

The overall goal is to make sure that concentrations of glucose are closely regulated to keep blood sugar from dropping or spiking.

Diabetes in dogs cannot be cured, but there are ways to manage it so that your dog can live a happy and healthy life.

Treatment really starts with monitoring your dog at home.

You’ll need to be aware of any of the symptoms listed above and possibly test your dog’s blood glucose levels:

You will need to be most aware of this right after meals and after exercise.

For those dogs that need insulin, they will need one or more daily shots of insulin to live.

The injection is given just under the skin and your vet will discuss all the particular details about the procedure. He will also discuss with you the variations that can occur after the injection and what you can expect.

Managing the diet is another fact in the care of diabetic dogs.

However, it’s unlikely that you will need a prescription diet.

Most dogs that have diabetes do just fine eating a regular diet for adult maintenance. Just make sure to feed the same type and the same amount of food at each feeding. Spacing meals to twelve hours between feedings also works well.

If issues with the pancreas are suspected (pancreatitis), you might need to feed a low fat diet.

What Is The Life Expectancy of a Dog With Diabetes?

We are happy to say that dogs with diabetes can live just as long as other healthy dogs!

Of course, this is the case if your dog is receiving the proper care and medication, if needed, for his diabetes.

Cause of death in dogs with diabetes are usually:

  • Infection
  • Liver disorders
  • Pancreas disorders
  • Kidney disease

All of the above are usually attributed to diabetes that goes undetected.

There’s no doubt that caring for a diabetic dog is a big commitment.

Along with insulin injections, you’ll need to monitor his food, his activities, and watch for the recurrence of any symptoms that might show up. However, once diagnosed and properly treated, the condition will begin to stabilize and your fur baby can then lead a long, healthy life.

These factors contribute to the life span of a diabetic dog:

  • Severity of the disease
  • Early detection
  • Proper treatment
  • Proper diet
  • Lifestyle that is carefully monitored

In Closing

So you see, dogs with diabetes can maintain a good life, with your help of course!

A few things to keep in mind if your dog doesn’t have diabetes however are:

  1. Making sure that he doesn’t become obese.
  2. Make sure you’re feeding a good, nutritious food at the right times.
  3. Providing plenty of exercise on a regular basis.

Do you have experience with a diabetic dog?

If so, be sure to take a moment and share that experience with our readers and us!

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