Diabetes is a common disease in humans and is common enough in dogs too, so much so that about 1 in 500 dogs suffer from this disease. The disease is occurs in dogs who are in the 4-14 age group. So what is diabetes in dogs and what are the symptoms and treatments available today?
Diabetes is a condition where the body does not produce Insulin (Type I) or where insulin is produced in insufficient quantities (Type II). In both conditions, the muscles and organs are unable to convert the glucose into energy and this results in an increased level of glucose in the blood. Diabetes if left untreated is fatal and an early detection is a key to enhancing the lifespan of diabetic dog.
There are many signs and symptoms, which herald the beginning of the condition. A dog is drinking more water than is usual is one of the earliest signs of trouble. This is followed by frequent urination and an increased appetite. In spite of the larger intake, a diabetic dog starts to lose weight and is lethargic, less active and seems to be sleeping more. Some dogs tend to shed hair and develop cataract or cloudy eyes. With progression in disease, dogs tend to get depressed and keep vomiting.
The key to managing canine diabetes is diagnosing it early and then managing it. The main problem with canine diabetes is that detection in most cases happens only when the dog shows symptoms of ketosis. Like in the treatment of humans with Type I diabetes, canine diabetes can be managed by insulin therapy, which then becomes a lifelong necessity. Giving insulin shots requires practice and patience. Your vet would help you get accustomed to doing it correctly. Doses would be prescribed by your vet and would need to be followed strictly. If you have a large dog at home, a single dose should suffice while having smaller dogs with diabetes would require you to give them multiple doses.
Apart from insulin therapy, the diet needs to be controlled and a series of daily exercises has to be started. The diet would eschew soft and moist food as this would lead to a rapid increase in glucose levels. This is a tough ask as a dog requires time to change from an accustomed diet. Dogs may put on weight or lose it and you would need to discuss the situation with your vet and follow his advice to ensure that the dog reaches and then maintains as ideal weight. Patience is the key and it would be a 2-4 month process before the dog reaches the ideal weight.
Diabetes can be managed in dogs that can go on to live fully enjoyable lives only if the owner decides to take matters seriously. Practicing careful maintenance can avoid complications and allow your dog to lead a long life.