Having a dog who is diabetic requires some knowledge of what possible behaviours to watch out for. Many diabetic dogs live completely normal lives like any other dog, and very rarely do they suffer from negative side effects. But it is important nonetheless to be aware of what happens in your dog’s body when their insulin is low and how to prevent as well as treat it.
Diabetes in both humans in dogs, is a result of the body not producing enough insulin or the body having an inadequate response to insulin. Just like with humans, when dogs eat, their bodies break down the food into individual macronutrients that the body can then sort and utilize. Glucose, made up of a small chain of simple sugars, is a type of carbohydrate used primarily to give the body energy. Insulin is meant to be produced when we eat food so that it can carry the glucose to where it needs to go to be used as fuel for the body. When the body does not produce a sufficient amount of insulin, glucose is not able to be utilized. As a result, blood sugar levels increase and when left untreated, can lead to very serious health problems.
If a dog is not able to produce enough of the hormone insulin on his own, the vet may recommend a dosage of insulin that he will need to take at certain times every day. It is very important that the insulin is given at the right time. Your vet will give specific instructions on dosage and times, depending on your dog’s individual needs and if he has type I or type II diabetes (dogs most commonly have type I, while cats are more likely to have type II).
Some signs to watch out for that your dog has diabetes are excessive thirst, lethargy, weight loss, a change in appetite or vomiting. Your dog may show several or maybe just one of these symptoms. In general, if you notice any abnormalities in your dog’s behaviour, health or appearance, you should immediately discuss with your vet as early detection of diabetes can prevent more serious health problems.
Although the exact cause of diabetes in dogs is unknown, it can sometimes be a result of obesity, autoimmune disease, or can develop as a result of certain medications. Some dog breeds have been known to be more susceptible to developing diabetes. Breeds such as miniature schnauzers, Keeshonds and Samoyeds seem to be more likely to develop diabetes compared to other dog breeds, especially at around 6-9 years of age.
The best way to try and prevent diabetes is to help your dog stay active by getting enough exercise every single day. As we know, dogs who are obese can be at higher risk of developing diabetes so make sure your dog also has a healthy diet that doesn’t include too many treats or table scraps! And as we mentioned earlier, watch out for any changes in your dogs behaviour as early detection of diabetes can help prevent more serious health complications as a result from the disease. With help from your vet and keeping your dog active and eating a wholesome diet, your dog is sure to live a happy and healthy life!