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Diabetes in Dogs

Just like in humans, Diabetes Mellitus is relatively common in dogs.  The disease in dogs is most like Type 1 Diabetes seen in children, where there is a lack of insulin produced in the body.

In the absence of insulin, the body’s fat and protein are broken down instead, resulting in muscle wasting and weight loss, despite the animal being ravenously hungry.

Implicating factors in Diabetes include chronic pancreatitis.  This is a condition that results in the progressive destruction of the pancreas, usually associated with a high-fat diet and obesity. 

 Genetics also play a role in Diabetes, with some breeds having a higher incidence.  Poodles, Keeshond, Malamutes, Spitz, Schnauzers, Samoyeds, Bichons, Pugs and Yorkshire Terriers seem more susceptible. 

Diabetes is more likely in middle to older age dogs.  Signs include weight loss, ravenous appetite, excessive drinking and urinating.  Cataracts, lethargy, and poor hair coat are also indicators of the disease.

Diabetes is diagnosed based on clinical signs, examination and blood and urine tests checking for glucose levels.  Persistently high glucose levels are the hallmark of the condition.  Treatment relies on daily or twice-daily injections of insulin, consistent feeding times and amounts, as well as regular exercise.  The importance of a regular routine is critical as one of the most dangerous aspects of diabetic treatment is the risk of low blood sugar in the body.   This could be the result of either too much insulin given, too little food eaten or too much exercise.  If this occurs, dogs may sleep a bit more, become lethargic or if severe hypoglycaemia occurs, they may seizure or become unconscious, progressing to coma and death if left untreated. 

Treatment for diabetes is life long as remission does not occur. It is mostly a treatable, manageable disease with many dogs going on to live happy lives.