My Pooch is Diabetic

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes can effect canines in the same fashion as it does humans. Importantly, it is not contagious and cannot be passed on to another human or animal. Diabetes is a condition when the body cannot make or use insulin; if a dog does not have enough insulin, blood glucose levels rise and cause several complications. An insulin overdose can cause low blood sugar, as well as convulsions.

Signs and Symptoms

An animal who has recently developed diabetes will show symptoms such as weight loss, frequent urination, and drinking lots of water. A dog may also become exercise intolerant and tire out quickly. A visit to the veterinarian for a urine and blood test to analyze glucose levels will confirm this condition. If treatment is not received in a timely manner, more severe symptoms will manifest like loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, lethargy weakness, coma and eventually death.

Tests and Diagnosis

Both blood and urine samples can be analyzed for glucose content; having dogs tested by both methods is important, as there are other diseases and conditions that can mimic diabetes. Depending on the level of glucose and severity, a pet may have to stay at the veterinarian for a few days to be stabilized. When the animal returns home, scheduled checkups will be in order.

Treatment

After the initial vet visit and stabilization, treatment will begin at home. As with humans, diabetic canines are treated with insulin injections. The vet will know what dosage to prescribe, this is usually based on weight. Insulin is generally given with food twice a day, though there can be exceptions. These shots are relatively easy to give once the owner is trained on how to do so.

Prognosis
Dogs with diabetes can live a full and happy life, provided they are taken care of properly. Lifestyle changes may be very small, such as a new diet and feeding schedule. Pets are still able to play, walk, run, and socialize with others. Since most dogs who get this disease are over weight, daily walks are probably more important than ever. Most dogs will be put on a special, high-carb diet; this helps the body properly interact with insulin, but without enough physical activity, it can lead to weight gain. Just because a pooch has diabetes, doesn’t mean he can’t be given a treat. The only restriction is the quantity; bits of skinless chicken, cooked chicken liver, chicken hearts, or other commercially made treats, are all approved by veterinarians.

Complications
Usual complications include an enlarged liver, wounds becoming infected easily, and possible neurological problems in the near future. If left untreated or not properly regulated, there may be several other complications; blindness with or without cataracts, problems with the liver and kidneys, coma, and  even death.

Hypoglycemia is synonymous with low blood sugar; this happens with an insulin overdose, regardless of the root cause. Symptoms include weakness, head tilting, restlessness, shivering and severe convulsions. Recovery involves giving the pup sweet substances like honey or prescribed glucose tablets. Glucose levels need to be monitored throughout the day, as they can fluctuate during treatment of hyperglycemia. A visit to the vet should also be a part of such a regiment.

Living with Diabetes
Both dogs and owners can live a normal life after diagnosis. A few changes in diet and exercise might be necessary, but not inconvenient. In fact, despite the apparent health issue, many victims become healthier after a healthy regime is introduced. This is not the end of the world, but a great new beginning in life.