Just like humans, dogs can develop or be born with diabetes; in fact, about one in four hundred dogs develop the condition, and it’s getting more common. Dog diabetes is similar in symptoms and action to the human variety.
Watch for the following symptoms if you suspect your dog may have this problem:
o Excessive consumption of water under normal conditions
o Excessive urination
o Increased appetite
o Weight loss or gain for no apparent reason
o An intolerance to exercise
o Recurrent infections
o Thinning skin and fragility (this is very serious)
Symptoms have a gradual onset, so you may not notice it right away. If you want to quick test your pet for diabetes, you can use urine keto/glucose strips (which are sold for use in the Atkins diet). A glucose-positive test indicates likely canine diabetes; if it shows ketones, you need to get him to the veterinarian right away.
Never try to treat diabetes in dogs yourself. You must have him under a veterinarian’s care for the best results. Learn everything you can about canine diabetes once he has been diagnosed. This will enable you to give him the best possible care.
It is critical that diabetes in dogs be treated as quickly as possible. Though they are unlikely to die in the early stages of the disease, a dog’s eyes are very sensitive to elevated blood sugar and can be blinded after only a few days of untreated diabetes.
Treatments for Dog Diabetes
The primary component in treating your dog’s diabetes is his diet. A high-fiber, moderate-carb diet can put dog diabetes into remission, for instance. This means it’s time to quit the table scraps and talk to your vet about the best dog food. Especially watch for foods that are advertised as “light,” as they tend to be higher in carbs than you want. Some veterinarians will also prescribe insulin bolus supplements for mealtimes, or a restricted-fat diet for dogs that also have pancreatitis. Rarely, he may prescribe oral medications; get a second opinion if he does.
After diet has been regulated, you may have to give your dog regular insulin injections. There are many animal and synthetic insulin brands used to treat diabetes in dogs. The most common is probably Caninsulin or Vetsulin, but don’t be surprised if your veterinarian prescribes a human insulin instead.
Treatment for diabetes in dogs should start slowly and conservatively, largely because an overdose of insulin can kill your dog in just minutes. You should buy a blood glucose meter for your dog and test him yourself, as urine strips aren’t accurate enough to monitor glucose levels. Follow your vet’s directions; he will probably tell you that your pet’s glucose should remain between 100-180 mg/dL, preferably toward the lower end. Readings over 250 should be called in to the veterinarian, as that is where canine diabetes can cause serious damage. It takes experience to get a good feel for how your dog’s glucose levels should look.
Hypoglycemic reactions, marked by lethargy, confusion, loss of bladder and bowel control, vomiting, and seizures, can be treated by rubbing honey or corn syrup on your pet’s gums and rushing him to the vet. Continue rubbing the sweets on his gums on the way; this could be a lifesaving treatment. Low blood glucose (40 mg/dL) without symptoms should be treated by giving your pet treats right away. Do allow your dog to drink as much water as he wants at all times; don’t worry that he’s drinking too much.
Remember, with proper care, your diabetic dog can have a normal and healthy lifespan.