Vets across the country are seeing increasing numbers of dogs suffering from diabetes. With this condition in the rise, knowing the symptoms of diabetes can help pet owners to get their pooch the care they need quickly. Here, our Avon vets explain more about dog diabetes, its symptoms and its treatment options.
What is dog diabetes?
There are two main varieties of diabetes that commonly affects dogs, and while neither form of this condition can be cured, both can be managed quite effectively.
- Diabetes mellitus, also known as 'sugar diabetes,' is an insulin deficiency that is caused by your dog's body being incapable of producing enough insulin to remain healthy and function properly. This is the most common form of diabetes found in our pups.
- This variety of diabetes is caused not by your dog's body generating too little insulin, but rather, it not using the insulin it does generate properly. This variety of diabetes is common in older and obese dogs.
How serious is diabetes in dogs?
Just like diabetes in people, diabetes in our dogs can be a life-threatening illness.
With that being said, however, both kinds of diabetes seen in dogs can be managed effectively with some extra effort from you and your veterinarians. Dogs that pass away from diabetes generally do so within the first few months of their diagnosis before their condition can be properly regulated.
Once diabetes is successfully managed with ongoing treatments, your dog may go on to live a long, happy and healthy life.
What are the symptoms of dog diabetes?
If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is the key to successfully managing diabetes in dogs.
The early signs of diabetes in dogs include:
- Poor coat
- Frequent urination
- Drinking more water than usual
- Weakness/Lack of Energy
- Recurrent infections
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
- Excessive appetite (polyphagia)
Once the disease is more advanced symptoms may become more severe and include:
- Dull coat
- Lack of energy
- Joint stiffness/weakness
- Cataracts leading to visual impairment/blindness
If diabetes is not managed effectively, or not treated at all, severe symptoms include:
- Kidney Failure
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Cataracts resulting in blindness
- Enlarged liver/Liver disease
Hypoglycemia is a life-threatening condition that occurs due to low blood sugar that can be caused by dog diabetes and results in symptoms such as panting, shaking, vomiting, lethargy, and sweet-smelling breath. Hypoglycemia in dogs is a veterinary emergency. Contact your nearest emergency vet if your dog begins showing symptoms that could be related to hypoglycemia.
How is diabetes in dogs treated?
After a comprehensive examination and testing, if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will prescribe medications and ongoing treatments to allow you to manage your dog's condition.
Ongoing treatment for diabetes in dogs typically involves:
- Daily insulin shots
- Regular veterinary examinations
- A special, vet-recommended diet
- Regular daily exercise to help avoid spikes or sudden drops in glucose levels
- Close monitoring of your dog for changes in symptoms and overall health
One of the best ways for you to monitor your dog's health is through routinely scheduled wellness checks at your veterinarian's office. Having your dog checked out twice each year can also help your vet to monitor your pup's health and spot the earliest signs of diabetes.
Can dog diabetes be prevented?
While there are no guarantees, you might be able to help your pooch avoid developing diabetes altogether by providing them with a healthy, active lifestyle. Try to keep your dog's weight at a healthy level based on their age, sex and breed. Make sure you are feeding your dog a quality and high-nutrient diet that meets all of their nutritional requirements and take measures to make sure your four-legged friend gets all the exercise they need each day.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.