Yep, that’s right, dogs can suffer from diabetes too! This is why it’s essential to ensure everyone in the household eats a healthy diet, including our four-legged family members. This is also why we wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what “diabetes” looks like when it affects our pets and discuss some of the things that we, as loving owners, can do to help improve their situation and qualify for life so that we can ensure that they continue to live a long and healthy life.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Diabetes in Dogs
Two forms of diabetes can occur in dogs.
- Diabetes insipidus, the body’s failure to regulate water content, is rare in dogs.
- Diabetes mellitus is more common in dogs and even more common in certain breeds when they are over five years old.
It is not very common for puppies to inherit the congenital form.
Most of the time, when folks refer to the disease known as “diabetes,” whether they know this or not, they usually talk about diabetes mellitus. Now, with diabetes mellitus, what is happening is that the pancreas, which is a small organ located near the stomach, is having “issues.” Or, more specifically, one of either two groups of cells within the pancreas are having issues. The first group, Alpha cells, secrete an enzyme ensuring proper digestion. The second group is called beta cells, which produce a hormone called insulin.
Type l diabetes mellitus…
Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is caused by the complete or near-complete destruction of the beta cells, caused by the total or near-complete destruction of the beta cells, which are insulin-producing, and is the most common to occur in dogs.
Type ll diabetes mellitus…
Noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus occurs when some beta cells exist but do not produce enough insulin, or the dog’s body is resistant to that insulin. Type ll diabetes mellitus is the kind that is most frequently found in cats.
Insulin attaches itself to the exterior of the cells and opens up like a pore in the cell. This then lets glucose leave the bloodstream and move into the cell’s interior. With enough insulin to open the pores, glucose cannot enter the cells. Thus, glucose builds up in the blood, leading to diabetes mellitus.
When there isn’t…
With enough insulin, the cells are started for energy (glucose). In reaction to that starvation, the body begins to break down any fat and protein stored, thus causing weight loss. This ‘starving’ creates hunger. Therefore, the dog will eat more, resulting in weight loss in a starving dog. The dog’s body then attempts to get rid of the excess glucose in the urine. The glucose draws water, causing a loss of the body fluids through the urine, creating a greater urine output. If the dog doesn’t drink even more water, it can dehydrate.
In dogs, genetics…
It seems to play a more significant role than obesity. Chronic pancreatitis can also lead to canine diabetes mellitus.
Commonly affected dog breeds include:
- Alaskan Malamute,
- Chow Chow,
- Doberman Pinscher,
- English Springer Spaniel,
- Finish Spritz,
- Golden Retriever,
- Labrador Retriever,
- West Highland White Terrier.
Symptoms of Diabetes
- Change in appetite,
- Excessive thirst and urination coupled with increased appetite but weight loss,
- Sweet-smelling or fruity breath,
- urinary tract infections,
- Lethargy or fatigue.
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, you will first want to have them checked out by a veterinarian immediately. Not only will this ensure that your pet gets the best care, but it could end up saving you a lot of money because diabetes can cause a lot of complications in your dog’s health, complications that can become quite expensive if they are allowed to progress.
Once at your…
In a Veterinarian’s office, your vet will likely perform a blood draw and collect a urine sample. The blood work will help determine your dog’s blood sugar levels, indicating whether or not your dog is suffering from diabetes and, if so, how “severe” the diabetes is. A urinalysis will confirm that sugar is passing through the urine. It is also possible that something called Ketones, which is a breakdown of fat, may also be detectable.
Once diagnosed, your veterinarian will probably instruct you to give your dog insulin injections to drive sugar into the cells in the body. These insulin injections will usually be required once or twice a day. The vet will also likely instruct you on the dietary changes that need to occur and will probably prescribe a different dog food created with lower glycemic index ingredients. (The glycemic index is the rating used to rate food based on how quickly it turns into sugar in the blood.)
Now, in severe cases…
Some dogs may require hospitalization. In cases like these, the vet will monitor for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), when the body breaks down fat at a rate that is too fast for the liver to process. Some may even need more intensive care because of various problems that can be secondary to diabetes. This is why we stress the importance of getting your dog to the vet if you suspect they may have diabetes.
Cost of Treatment
The initial diagnosis can range from $600-$4000 depending on whether hospitalization or secondary conditions arise. After the initial outlay, barring further complications, the monthly cost will be $100-$300. Also, it is not uncommon for dogs suffering from diabetes to develop cataracts within the first nine months of diagnosis of diabetes. The cost of surgery for both eyes is $1100-$2000.
These costs will…
Include the insulin and syringes needed for the daily shots and the regular monitoring of your dog’s blood glucose level (glycemic control) to ensure the proper dose of insulin by your veterinarian, plus the prescription pet food.
Now, it’s probably a good idea to remind everyone that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. This is why we always stress that if you feel your dog may be suffering from diabetes or any other medical condition, please have them checked out by a professional immediately. Or, as we like to say…
“When in doubt, have a vet check it out!”
This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet encourage anyone considering becoming a pet owner to be sure and do their due diligence before leaping into pet ownership, which includes taking a moment and considering purchasing a pet insurance policy on their animal.
Now, will a pet insurance policy be “right” for everyone?
No, of course not. But until you understand how they work, and until you know how much one might cost you, how will you be able to tell for sure one isn’t “right” for you?
For more information about who we “feel” currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies in the industry, we encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.