Diabetes is an illness we commonly hear about people having. But what many people don’t realize that this disease isn’t limited to people – your dog can get it too.
It’s really hard to learn that your dog has canine diabetes. You might wonder what his life will be like, how much longer he’ll live, and if you’ll have to put him down because of the diabetes.
The good news is that, like in people, diabetes in dogs is not an immediate death sentence because it can be managed with proper care.
If you think your dog might be diabetic, or if you’ve just gotten the canine diabetes diagnosis from your vet, then let us help you understand what this means for your fur baby.
What Is Dog Diabetes?
A dog develops diabetes when his pancreas does not produce enough insulin on its own. It may also function poorly.
Insulin is necessary for taking in glucose and transporting it throughout the body. It’s needed for energy.
The body failing to produce insulin can result in too much glucose in the bloodstream. This can cause your dog to become ill.
Dogs with diabetes are more likely to develop other health concerns as well. They have a greater risk of going blind and may develop urine infections and other problems more easily.
It is important to look out for the symptoms so you can get your dog checked for diabetes as soon as problems start occurring.
The 2 Types of Dog Diabetes
There are two types of canine diabetes. Insulin-deficient and insulin-resistant are two different forms you need to be aware of when you own a dog.
Insulin-deficient diabetes is when your dog’s pancreas cannot produce hardly – if any – insulin at all. This is known as type 1 diabetes.
It is a life-long disease that will require your dog to be on medication for the remainder of his or her life.
This is the most common type for dogs, and also the most serious. Your dog’s pancreas may be badly damaged or otherwise unable to function as it needs.
Treatments will be required to provide insulin to the body so the job of managing sugar levels can still be completed somehow.
Insulin-resistant diabetes is known as type 2. It can occur temporarily in female, pregnant dogs and in canines who are older and overweight.
This form of diabetes occurs when your dog’s pancreas is still able to produce insulin on its own.
The problem is now that even with insulin present, glucose is still not being absorbed properly or transported to the cells it needs. Help will be needed to maintain sugar levels properly.
How Long Can A Dog Live After Being Diagnosed With Diabetes?
Dogs can still have a full life with diabetes. They just need to be taken care of well and have regular check-ups to ensure their health.
Failing to care for your pet as instructed can result in a shorter lifespan for him or her. Many dogs go on to live for at least another two years after diagnosis, potentially more if they’re well-cared for and a younger age.
Older dogs may struggle to recover after a canine diabetes diagnosis.
The hurdle is to get past the first few months after your pet has been diagnosed. If left untreated for too long, the problems may already be far too exacerbated.
Your dog could be too sick for any treatments to help.
That is why it is so important to watch for symptoms and seek treatment immediately if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior.
Symptoms Of Canine Diabetes
Though symptoms will vary from one dog to another, there are some commonalities you should watch out for, including:
- Excessive thirst – Dogs tend to lose more fluids with diabetes, so they become incredibly thirsty to make up for it.
- Regular urinary tract infections – Dogs may be urinating more frequently due to the excessive drinking, which can result in infections.
- Weight loss – Some dogs may struggle to keep on weight because their nutrients are not being converted properly.
- Sweet smelling breath – The excess glucose can cause a sweet scent of the breath.
- Increased appetite – Your dog may feel constantly hungry because the cells in the body aren’t receiving glucose from the meal.
- Loss of sight – Diabetes usually needs to be present for a while before this symptom occurs. If you notice a cloudiness to your dog’s eyes and they seem to be stumbling into things, it could indicate a loss of vision.
Treatment For Dog Diabetes
Before your dog can be treated, the veterinarian will first need to perform a few tests and determine which form of diabetes he or she has.
The vet will check your dog’s urine and blood to determine if glucose levels are more elevated than they should be. High liver enzymes and electrolyte balances can also be indicators.
The state of your dog’s pancreas will also need to be looked at, along with breed, age, weight, and genetic factors.
Treatments must be carefully prescribed so too much insulin is not injected, which can also be a cause for concern.
The first step will be to put a diet plan into effect. The veterinarian will determine how much food and what kind is best for your dog.
Allowing your pet to eat too much can result in high glucose levels that cannot be handled. Too little may not give him or her the adequate nutrition required.
It is important to stick with this recommended diet to maintain your dog’s weight and well-being.
Exercise is also an important aspect of preventing diabetes and managing it once it occurs.
An overweight dog is at serious risk of developing the disease and struggling to manage with it once it does set in.
Make sure you’re following the vet’s exercise plan, which may involve regular walks and trying to get your pet to be more active outdoors.
You will need to monitor your dog’s glucose levels carefully. Doing so can help you determine if the levels are too high or within normal range.
A pin-prick may be needed to check your dog’s blood. A urine test is also a possibility.
Your vet may have a preference for which one you do, but you can ask if you prefer one method over the other.
You will need to inject your dog with insulin each day. Many vets require two doses per day, 12 hours apart.
It is best to give these injections after your dog has had his or her meal.
The dose will be based on age, weight, and other factors the veterinarian considers.
When To Put Down A Diabetic Dog
This painful decision is one that no pet owner wants to have to make, but we don’t want our dogs to live their final moments in pain.
The truth is that most dogs live a full life with diabetes, but in older dogs that is not always true. If your dog has been diagnosed with advanced canine diabetes, then you may want to consider putting him down.
Often older dogs go blind from the advanced stages of diabetes.
Ideally, you should consult with your vet for their opinion on when to put down your diabetic dog.
In addition to blindness, other health issues that arise in advanced canine diabetes include:
- Kidney failure
- Urinary tract infections
My old collie, Zoey, developed diabetes in her later years. We got the diagnosis after she had some seizures in the yard and we took her to the vet.
Deciding to put her down was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but the vet told us that the treatment can be hard on older dogs. So, we thought it would be selfish for us to keep her alive with that pain, so we made the hard decision to let her go.
Dog diabetes is a serious condition that needs your prompt attention. Always be on the lookout for changes in your pet’s behavior so you can get him or her the help needed quickly.
Allowing the disease to go untreated for some time can result in a shorter lifespan. With treatment, however, your dog can live a full and happy life at home with you.