In this blog post from our “From the Vet” series, learn more about diabetes – risk factors, symptoms and treatment options – in your dog.
Your dog’s metabolism is regulated by a number of factors. One part of that is glucose production, regulation, and utilization. Glucose is the fuel that is used by cells so they can perform their duties. Glucose is made from the food we eat and stored in the liver and muscles (glycogen). Insulin facilitates mobilization and allocation of glucose for cells to use, without insulin glucose cannot be stored or used by cells even though it is in the blood stream.
In dogs who are not producing enough insulin, the blood sugar is very high but the body cannot use it. This causes your pet to drink excessively, urinate excessively, and lose weight. Some breeds are at higher risk of developing diabetes than others (Samoyeds, Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, Pugs, and Toy Poodles) but it could occur in any dog, especially ones that are obese. This is a treatable condition, however, it does require a committed effort. Treatment of diabetes is multifactorial due in part to the many factors that affect blood glucose and your pet’s response. Diabetes is caused by a loss or dysfunction of specialized cells in the pancreas, in dogs cell loss tends to be rapid and progressive. Regardless of the underlying cause dogs with diabetes have very high blood glucose level and glucose in the urine.
Once a diagnosis has been made there are several changes that need to be made to control this condition. This will include the following: insulin therapy, diet regulation, exercise, and prevention/ control of concurrent diseases (like urinary tract infections). Vetsulin is the only veterinary product for the management of diabetes in dogs; however, there are other types of insulin available. Vestulin is a good resource for more information on diabetes, monitoring and controlling diabetes, and FAQ’s.
A diet high in fiber is beneficial in treating obesity and improving blood glucose control. Fiber forms a gel in the intestine slowing glucose absorption. While a prescription diet is helpful it is more important that your pet eats consistently! Exercise has a glucose lowering effect by increasing the mobilization of insulin from its injection site (increased blood flow) and by stimulating glucose transporters in muscle cells. The daily routine for diabetic dogs should include exercise, preferably at the same time each day. Strenuous and sporadic exercise can cause severe low blood sugar and should be avoided.
Diabetes is treatable but it will require an investment of time and money. This disease and monitoring is not the same in every patient, your veterinarian can discuss treatment choices, monitoring, and prognosis with you.
Your Partner in Healthy Pups – Dr. Eileen