If your vet has diagnosed diabetes in your dog, it is important to make some changes to both diet and lifestyle. Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed to help your dog lead a normal life.
This article is designed to help you understand the some of the causes and signs of diabetes, as well as some of the steps you can take as an owner to help your dog.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a complex disease caused by the body being unable to use sugar from food properly.
After eating, food is broken down into various nutrients, including a sugar called glucose. This is normally distributed around the body by a hormone called insulin to give cells energy. But with diabetes, the body either can’t produce insulin or won’t let it work properly.
When this happens, glucose doesn’t reach the cells but builds up in the blood instead. This results in high blood sugar levels (called hyperglycaemia), which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
After meals, dogs with untreated diabetes experience spikes in their blood sugar. This is due to a deficiency in their insulin systems, which usually ensure blood sugar only rises and falls slightly between meals.
What are the signs of diabetes in dogs?
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Excessive hunger while losing weight
- Lethargy (inactive / sleeping more)
- Cloudy eyes
- Thinning, dry and dull hair
Why do dogs get diabetes?
The exact cause is still unknown. However, long-term inflammation of the pancreas, genetics and some medicines can all make your dog more likely to develop diabetes. Most cases occur in middle-aged dogs, and unspayed females are twice as likely to get diabetes as males.
Any breed can be affected, but some have a higher risk. These include:
- Cairn Terriers
- Chow Chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- English Springer Spaniels
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- West Highland White Terriers
How is diabetes diagnosed?
If your dog shows signs of diabetes, your vet can conduct some simple blood and urine tests to confirm the diagnosis.
How is diabetes treated?
If your dog has diabetes, lifelong treatment will be needed. But with help from your vet, diabetes needn’t shorten your dog’s lifespan or stop them from enjoying a happy, normal life. Usually, there are three things you’ll need to do:
1 Give your dog regular insulin injections
These are essential for controlling diabetes and are usually needed twice a day. The needles are very small so some dogs don’t even notice them.
2 Adjust your dog’s diet
Diabetes and diet are closely linked, so controlling what your dog eats is one of the best ways of controlling the condition. The ideal food avoids big sugar spikes and releases energy slowly throughout the day.
3 Make sure your dog has a consistent routine.
Treatment is more effective when you give meals and injections at the same time every day. Regular exercise is also important. Ask your vet for advice on the right routine for you and your dog.
The right diet is crucial
Ask your vet about PURINA® PRO PLAN®VETERINARY DIETS Canine DM Diabetes Management. Scientifically formulated to nutritionally manage the condition effectively, it contains:
- Dietary fibre to help slow carbohydrate absorption
- White bean extract to control blood sugar levels after meals
- Antioxidants to supporting diabetic dogs’ immune systems and neutralise free radicals