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Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Diabetes is becoming increasingly common in our canine companions, and knowing the symptoms to watch for could help you to get your pup the urgent care they need quickly. Today our Windsor vets explain the types of diabetes seen in dogs, as well as the symptoms to watch for, and how diabetes in dogs can be treated. 

Types of Diabetes Mellitus Seen in Dogs

There are three main types of diabetes mellitus in dogs

  • Type I diabetes mellitus (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) results from the destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells. This is the most common type of diabetes seen in dogs. Dogs with this type of diabetes require insulin injections to help stabilize their blood sugar levels.
  • Type II diabetes mellitus (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus), occurs in dogs when there are some insulin-producing cells remaining, but the amount of insulin produced is not sufficient to meet the demands of your dog's body, when there is a delayed response in secreting insulin, or when the tissues of the dog's body are insulin resistant. Type II diabetes is typically seen in obese senior dogs. While it is possible to treat people with this form of diabetes using oral medications, dogs do not respond well to these medications and usually require insulin to control their disease.
  • Type III diabetes results from hormone-induced insulin resistance resulting from pregnancy or hormone-secreting tumors.

Prognosis for Dogs With Diabetes

Much like diabetes in people, diabetes in dogs is a life-threatening illness. Nonetheless, both forms of diabetes seen in dogs can be effectively managed with a little extra effort from pet parents. Dogs that pass away from diabetes typically do so in the first couple of months following diagnosis, before the condition has been regulated. Once the disease is being successfully managed with ongoing treatments your dog could go on to live a long, happy, symptom-free life.

Symptoms of Dog Diabetes

If your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms it is essential to make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is the key to successfully managing diabetes in dogs.

Early Signs of Dog Diabetes

In the early stages of diabetes your dog may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Excessive water consumption (extreme thirst)
  • Larger than normal appetite (polyphagia)
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Recurrent infections
  • Poor coat condition
  • Seizures
  • Lack of energy
Signs of Advanced Diabetes in Dogs

In dogs who have reached the more advanced stages of diabetes you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Cataracts resulting in visual impairment/blindness
  • Weakness, lethargy, lack of interest in playtime or walks
  • Joint stiffness
  • Overall weakness
  • Dull coat
  • Recurrent vomiting
Severe Symptoms of Untreated Advanced Diabetes

If a dog's diabetes remains untreated, or if the disease proves difficult to manage, the following severe symptoms will likely develop:

  • Cataracts resulting in blindness
  • Urinary tract infections - UTIs
  • Kidney failure
  • Enlarged liver (liver disease)
  • Hypoglycemia
NOTE: Hypoglycemia is a serious life-threatening condition that occurs due to low blood sugar resulting from diabetes. Symptoms of hypoglycemia in dogs include panting, shaking, vomiting, lethargy, and sweet-smelling breath. Hypoglycemia is a veterinary emergency! Contact your nearest emergency vet if your dog begins showing symptoms that could be related to hypoglycemia.

Diagnosing Diabetes in Dogs

If your dog's symptoms point to a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus your vet will test your dog for the presence of glucose and ketones in their urine. Because diabetes is the only common disease seen in dogs that will cause your pup's blood glucose level to rise substantially, the next step will be to measure your pup’s blood glucose concentration. The diagnosis of diabetes becomes definite when glucose is found both in your dog's urine and at a high level in their blood.

Treatment for Diabetes in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes your vet will prescribe medications and ongoing treatments that will allow you to manage your dog's condition.

Ongoing treatment for diabetes in dogs typically involves:

  • Daily insulin shots
  • Regular daily exercise to help avoid spikes or sudden drops in glucose levels
  • A special, vet-recommended diet
  • Close monitoring of your dog for changes in symptoms and overall health
  • Regular veterinary examinations

One of the best ways to monitor your dog's health is through regular wellness checks at your vet's office. Having your dog examined once or twice a year can help your vet to monitor your dog's overall health and spot the earliest signs of diabetes.

Treating your dog's diabetes will be a key part of your dog's daily routine. This means that treatment requires both a financial and personal commitment from you as their pet parent.

Cost of Treating a Dog With Diabetes Mellitus

Once your dog's diabetes is well regulated, the ongoing treatment and maintenance costs are reasonable. Your dog will require a special diet, insulin, and syringes as part of their treatment but the price of these items is reasonable. That said, the financial commitment may be significant during the early stages of your dog's treatment before the condition is well managed or if complications arise.

An additional cost to consider is care for your dog when you need to travel. It will be essential to arrange for your pup to continue receiving their ongoing treatment while you are gone. Many veterinary clinics offer medical boring to help in situations like this.

Preventing Dog Diabetes

While there are no guarantees, you may be able to help your dog avoid developing diabetes by providing them with a healthy lifestyle. Keep your pup's weight at a healthy level based on their sex, age and breed, feed your dog a high-quality diet that meets all of their nutritional requirements, and ensure that your four-legged friend gets plenty of exercise every 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.

If your dog is showing signs of diabetes contact our Windsor emergency vets right away for urgent care.

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Contact (860) 688-8400