Now a days cases of diabetes has become frequent in the canine world. We all have heard about human diabetes but now a days Vets are noticing and registering alarming cases of diabetes especially in dogs.

1. What is Diabetes?

Basically it’s a disease associated with malfunctioning of pancreases (a small vital organ located near the stomach area). The beta-cells of pancreas are responsible for the secretion of insulin which in turn regulates the level of glucose in the blood stream. The transport of glucose to various organs of the body for energy utilization is carried out by insulin. If anything goes wrong with the pancreas, it hampers the insulin secretions and active glucose transport does not takes place. Due to this, the glucose gets accumulated in the blood and their level gets high and ultimately the animal suffers with the condition called as “Diabetes Mellitus”.

2. What causes Diabetes?

Though the exact cause of diabetes can be varied and can sometimes might relate to poor food (just like humans) coupled with less activity. Again like humans genetics also play a large role in diabetes in dogs. Sometimes an adverse immune reaction can also trigger diabetes. Though Diabetes mellitus is a common metabolic disorder of dogs and cats, but is rarely seen in cattle’s, small ruminants, horses, sheeps etc. It has been reported incidence such as every 1 dog in 200 dogs are diagnosed with Diabetes and the ratio being 1 in every 800 cats. Due to occurrences of this prevalence, health conscious companion animal owners/lovers must be aware of these ever growing problems in dogs and cats.

3. Types of diabetes mellitus

Type- I and Type-II are the major types of Diabetes mellitus. Type- I diabetes is caused from partial or complete loss of beta cells of pancreas leading to deficiency of insulin, hence it is also known as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). This is the most common type of diabetes seen in dogs and requires regular insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar in the body like human beings.

Type II diabetes is result of the insufficient insulin secretion by beta cells of pancreas. Here the insulin producing cells remains present but produces less or defective insulin, hence body is relatively resistant to it and often termed as insulin resistance. This type is also referred as Non-insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM). Type II diabetes may occur in older obese dogs and tend to respond well to oral medications and supportive supplementary/ herbal therapy which stimulate the beta cells to produce adequate amount of insulin.

4. How is Diabetes detected?

Diabetes is a long term disease with variable clinical manifestations and progression. The very early symptoms of uncomplicated diabetes mellitus are excessive urination, increased thirst, hunger and weight loss even with normal appetite.

Late stage signs could be ketoacidosis i. e. metabolic acidosis caused by the breakdown of fat and proteins in the liver in response to insulin deficiency followed by gradual loss of appetite, lethargy and depression. Other symptoms due to complications of multi organ failure includes cataract, vision impairment, kidney and bladder disorders, enlarged liver, neuropathy and obesity is well appreciated in the dogs.

A preliminary diagnosis of diabetes can be made through the presence of the typical clinical signs like increased thirst, excess urination, high appetite, and weight loss. In addition to this, the presence of a high level of glucose in the blood stream, and the presence of glucose in the urine are the confirmative tests.

The normal level of blood glucose is 80-120 mg/dl and rise above this in dog can be suspect for diabetes. Sometimes high calorie meal may raise the blood glucose levels as 250-300 mg/dl therefore, checking the fasting and post meal glucose levels helps to understand the situation.

Until an excessive level is reached, kidneys do not filter the glucose out of the blood stream into the urine to conserve glucose within the body for energy utilization. It is observed that when blood sugar reaches 180 mg/dl and above, the excess blood sugar is removed by the kidneys via urine called as glucosuria. The urine test positive for glucosuria confirms the diabetic status in patients.

Periodic health checkup, blood test for glucose and routine urine examination are utmost important laboratory tests to monitor the diabetic free life of dog.

5. Management and treatment of diabetes mellitus

Although the incidence is low but occurrence can’t be ruled out. Once the dog diagnosed for diabetes, as the dog’s owner, must make both a financial and a personal commitment to treat your dog.

  • Exercises: Take your dog every day for a walk and light exercise in morning and evening hours to keep them fit and active.
  • Diet Control: For better management of diabetes, dietary regulation is most important. Dog must be fed with nearly same food in the same amount on the scheduled time only. An expert Veterinary advice for types of food to be offered will again be very helpful.

Medication: Medication and treatment for diabetes must be taken under the supervision and guidance of veterinary physician/diabetician. Pay close attention to all instructions given related to administration of medication, diet, and home monitoring for control of the diabetes.

6. Prognosis for a dog with diabetes mellitus (Recovery & Outcomes)

Prognosis is guarded for a dog suffering with diabetes mellitus, which means, you can save your dog, if properly regulated, managed and diagnosed on early basis. Most dogs with controlled diabetes live a good healthy and quality life if treated properly.

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