In a previous post, I described the important role Sammy Dogis, Jr. plays in my type one diabetes care. Today, in recognition of National Pet Month and love for my four-legged companion, I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on canine diabetes. Yep, Sammy Dogis, Jr. has diabetes too.
Diabetes mellitus is a growing epidemic among our pets, and researchers estimate that one in 200 dogs will develop the disease. (Source: thebark.com) Here are a few more facts about canine diabetes:
You may have heard that dogs generally get Type 1 diabetes, but the reality is more complicated. Though there are no universally accepted definitions of dog diabetes, the United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College identifies two forms: insulin-deficiency diabetes (IDD) and insulin-resistance diabetes (IRD). Neither matches any kind of human diabetes exactly.
In IDD, a dog loses beta cells and no longer makes enough insulin to keep glucose levels under control. Causes include genetic defects, inflammation of the pancreas and immune attack (as in human Type 1 diabetes). In IRD, something prevents the dog’s insulin from functioning properly. That “something” may be “diestrus,” pregnancy, an endocrine disease, or treatment with steroids or progesterone-like hormones. Diestrus, the most common cause of IRD, is the approximately two months of high levels of progesterone (a female hormone) between periods of estrus (heat). Hormonally, diestrus resembles pregnancy, making this form of IRD similar to human gestational diabetes.
Several factors raise a dog’s risk of developing diabetes. These include breed, age, gender, weight, diet, virus infections, an inflamed pancreas, chronic inflammation of the small bowel, Cushing’s disease (excess production of the hormone cortisol) and long-term use of progesterone-like drugs or steroid drugs.
In the long run, the label your vet gives your dog’s diabetes isn’t important. A good treatment plan is what matters. Treating diabetes is as much an art as a science. The goal of treatment is to keep blood glucose levels close to normal—roughly between 65 and 120 mg/dl—so that your dog feels good now and is less likely to develop diabetes-related problems later.
With rare exceptions, dogs with diabetes need one to two daily insulin shots to survive; the insulin is injected just under the skin.
Exercise not only may help reduce your dog’s weight, it also lowers blood glucose levels.
Modern medicine has made caring for a diabetic dog quite doable and certainly worthwhile. Although daily care can seem burdensome at first, once you get used to it, it becomes a routine part of the day, like feeding her or taking her for walks.
If you suspect your dog has diabetes, here are ten top signs according to PetMD:
#10 Increased Thirst
#9 Increased Urination
#8 Increased Hunger
#7 Sudden Weight Loss
#5 Weakness or Fatigue
#4 Thinning or Dull Hair
#3 Cloudy Eyes (A common complication of diabetes in dogs is cataracts, or cloudy eyes.)
Sammy Dogis Jr. has been living with diabetes for two years. I spend about $200 monthly for his care, which includes twice daily insulin shots and daily eye drops to treat Sammy’s advanced cataracts. I also give him plenty of love because, inside my blue world, diabetes companionship is a two-way street.
PS: For more information on canine diabetes, here are a few more stories and links to check out: