Just as with humans, it is possible for your precious pooch to develop two different forms of diabetes mellitus. In both cases, your pet is unable to metabolize sugar properly, which can lead to a host of additional health problems if not cared for properly.
Understanding Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
One kind of diabetes, which is referred to as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, occurs when your dog's pancreas produces enough insulin for the body but the body is unable to use the insulin properly. Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, which is responsible for about 99% of cases of canine diabetes, occurs when the pancreas fails to produces enough insulin for the dog's body. If your dog has this type of diabetes, it will need to receive insulin injections on a regular basis in order to keep the disease under control.
Recognizing Diabetes in Your Dog
Although diabetes mellitus generally affects older dogs between the ages of 7 and 9, it is possible for younger dogs to be affected by the disease. In fact, juvenile-onset diabetes can affect dogs who are less than 1-year-old.
Some signs to watch for that could indicate diabetes in your pooch include:
o Increased urination frequency
o Increased thirst
o Unexplained weight loss
o Sudden blindness
o Poor body condition
It is also worth noting that certain breeds of dogs are more likely to develop diabetes, which means you should be particularly watchful of signs of the condition in these breeds. Breeds that are at a greater risk of diabetes include:
o Australian terrier
o Bichon fries
o Cairn terrier
o Fox terrier
Dogs suffering from certain conditions are also more likely to develop diabetes. Some of these conditions include:
o Cushing's disease
o Recurring pancreatitis
Dogs who take drugs such as progestagens and glucocorticoids are also more likely to develop the condition. Therefore, if your pet suffers from any of these conditions or takes any of these medications, be sure to monitor its blood sugar levels closely and to work with your veterinarian to make certain you are feeding your dog a proper diet.
Treating Canine Diabetes
Successful treatment of canine diabetes involves taking a holistic approach of medication and dietary changes. Most dogs suffering from Type 1 Diabetes will need to receive one or two injections of insulin each day in order to control blood glucose levels. Dogs with Type 2 Diabetes, however, can be treated with oral medications instead.
You can also help control your pet's diabetes by feeding it a diet that is high in fiber and by giving your pet plenty of opportunities to exercise on a regular basis, as weight management is key to controlling the condition. Female dogs can also benefits from being spayed, as estrogen can have an effect on insulin as well as on diabetes.
Most importantly, be certain to work closely with your veterinarian in order to keep your pet healthy. It is not uncommon for your pet's needs to change as it grows older, so changes in medication may be necessary. By keeping a close eye on your pet's health and discussing your pet's needs with your veterinarian, you will be certain to give your pet the best help possible.