Does Your Dog Have Diabetes?

Just like humans, dogs can develop diabetes. This is a chronic condition and while serious, if you work closely with your veterinarian to manage the disease, your dog can live a long and happy life.

Just what is diabetes? There are two forms:

One – Insulin deficiency diabetes – This is where your dog’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for driving sugar (glucose) into the cells where it can be used for energy. This results in your dog having to take insulin shots every day and is the most common type of diabetes seen in dogs.

Two – Insulin resistant diabetes – Your dog’s pancreas is producing some insulin, but his body is just not using it properly, as the cells are not responding to the insulin signal. This type of diabetes is most often seen in older canines who are overweight.

Diabetes results in cells not being able to get needed energy in the form of glucose, so your dog’s body starts to break down body fat and protein to get the energy he needs. Also, the level of sugar in your dog’s bloodstream rises and can cause quite a bit of damage to his organs, including the kidneys, heart, eyes and even his blood vessels.

So now that you know the two types of diabetes, what are the signs?

One of the first things most owners notice is that their dog always seems thirsty and drinks frequently. Your dog may ask to go out more and also might start to have urinary accidents in the house.

Your dog may also start to lose weight, in spite of eating the usual amount of his food. Plus, he may seem hungry all the time as well.

In the later stages of diabetes, your dog can lose his appetite, show a marked decrease in energy and appetite and also may vomit.

Uncontrolled diabetes can be devastating to your dog’s health and will eventually, if not treated, will result in his death. Early detection is important so treatment can be started before a lot of damage occurs. 

If you suspect your dog may have diabetes, take him to your veterinarian right away for a consult.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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