Common Illness in Dogs: Diabetes
Reviewed for accuracy on July 4, 2020 by Sarah Wallace, DVM
Diabetes in dogs is a fairly common medical condition. Just as in humans, it’s easily manageable by a caring, organized individual. A diabetic dog is often considered “less adoptable” because of its condition, which scares off many potential pet parents. Although adopting a dog with diabetes may require a little more devotion – managing daily medications and monitoring blood tests – the reward of unconditional love is well worth it.
Causes of Diabetes in Dogs
There are several factors that can increase a dog’s risk of developing diabetes. Certain breeds of dog are thought to be genetically susceptible to the disease, including Poodles, Dachshunds, Beagles, and Miniature Schnauzers. Pancreatitis in dogs and autoimmune diseases like lupus can increase a dog’s chance of developing the condition. Senior dogs, overweight dogs, and females also face a higher risk of diabetes.
There are two forms of diabetes in dogs:
- Type I, called insulin-dependent diabetes, is caused by a shortage of insulin, which regulates blood sugar. This condition requires supplementary insulin shots and is the most common form of the disease in dogs.
- Type II, known as insulin-resistant diabetes, is more frequently seen in cats. Some insulin production remains, although it may be too high or low for the animal’s health.
Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
Increased thirst and appetite, excessive urination, and weight loss are all signs consistent with a diagnosis of diabetes in dogs. However, because this combination of clinical signs can also be caused by other medical conditions, diagnostic blood work and urinalysis need to be performed to confirm a diagnosis. Making regular appointments with your vet can help detect symptoms early and prevent the disease from progressing. A general rule of thumb: adult dogs should be seen by a veterinarian once a year, barring emergencies, and senior dogs – those six to ten years old and up – need a veterinary exam every six months.
It can be difficult to discern dog diabetes symptoms: How much water is too much? Most vets agree that dogs, just like humans, need to drink one fluid ounce of water per pound of weight. Dog water bowls typically hold eight to sixteen ounces; a Chihuahua would drink less than one bowl, while a Labrador may need up to five bowls, depending on their size). As for potty breaks, three to five per day is normal. If you notice your pup constantly has to pee and is drinking more water than normal, it would be wise to have some diagnostics performed with your veterinarian.
Dog Diabetes Diagnosis and Treatment
The veterinarian will compile a detailed medical history of your pet’s symptoms, including when they began and any unusual changes in appetite, behavior, or bathroom habits. Blood and urine tests generally indicate a diagnosis of diabetes right away; unusually high levels of glucose will be found in both.
A diet plan will be created by your vet for both underweight and overweight pets; obesity and anorexia can complicate diabetes. It’s essential for pet parents to keep careful track of their pet’s diet, weight, glucose test results, and daily insulin dosage. Your veterinarian will select a type and dosage frequency of insulin that meets your dog’s needs and instruct you on delivering insulin shots if needed. Diabetes is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, but is manageable with dedication and organization.
Diabetic Dog Lifestyle Management
Avoid feeding dog foods high in fat. Consider investing in automatic food and water dispensers to prevent overconsumption – sticking to the diet devised by your veterinarian is very important to maintaining your dog’s health. Daily exercise is crucial for a diabetic dog, whether your pet’s goal is weight loss or maintenance. If your dog has Type I diabetes, daily monitoring of glucose levels and ensuring timely insulin shots is crucial.
If your pet has two or more risk factors for diabetes in dogs, make an appointment with your veterinarian and create a preventative wellness plan. Keep your dog at a healthy weight to prevent not only diabetes, but a variety of chronic medical conditions.