Diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes is a common condition in dogs. However scary it may sound it is not the end of the world for your dog because diabetes in canines is manageable if proper care is taken. Diet, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels and medication are key aspects of adequate care. Diabetes, however, can cause an early death of the dog if it is not treated. High blood sugar levels produce clinical symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats that can help in early detection.
Diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels rise due to the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin to manage glucose (a primary sugar) in the food that the a dog ingests. In another situation, cells become resistant to the action of insulin, which also results in a high blood sugar level. If not managed within reasonable time, it leads to abnormally high blood sugar levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia.
High blood sugar results when the dog’s body is unable to process and convert glucose to energy for maintaining healthy growth. The excess glucose in the blood has to go somewhere if it is not used by the body’s systems and it leaks over to the urine. This leads to excessive urination (polyuria). As fluids in the body reduce, the dog feels the need to drink more (polydipsia) to compensate the loss due to excessive urination.
Besides these two most prominent symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats some of the other symptoms indicative of diabetes are:
- Weight loss
- Poor skin and hair coat
- Frequent bladder infections
On observing these signs, a veterinarian should be consulted at the first opportunity because untreated diabetes can lead to:
- Loss of appetite
- Diabetic neuropathy, especially weakness in rear legs
Left untreated, diabetes can progress and cause some life threatening disorders like diabetic acidosis, a condition where abnormally high acidity is accompanied by an accumulation of ketone bodies. Some of the other complications arising out of unregulated blood sugar levels include liver and kidney dysfunction and canine blindness.
The cause of diabetes still remains a mystery despite large amounts of research that has been initiated in this area. Chronic inflammation of the pancreas and genetic predisposition are often suspected to be the cause in most of the cases. Breeds like Poodles, Schnauzers, Keeshounds, Cairn Terriers, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels and Beagles are more predisposed to developing diabetes.
Once your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, close monitoring of diet and regular checking of blood sugar levels is necessary. Minor increase in blood sugar can be managed by controlling and regulating diet. Abnormally high levels require insulin injections. Injection of insulin needs to be correlated with the amount, quality and timing of food intake. If you are taking care of your dog at home, make sure you get proper instructions about how and when to inject insulin on your own. Since excess insulin can lead to hypoglycemia or extremely low blood sugar levels, this is another area that you must understand well.
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