How to recognize if your dog has diabetes - Caring for Pets | All About Pets Special Section
All About Pets All About Pets All About Pets

Dogs and diabetes
How to recognize if your dog has diabetes

The family pet is typically a beloved and cherished member of the family, one whom no one wants to see succumb to sickness or illness. But just like their human counterparts, pets can get sick, and it might surprise some pet owners to learn their pets aren't immune to diseases most commonly associated with human beings.

One such disease is diabetes, which is a common disease in dogs regardless of breed. Just like with human beings, diabetes in dogs does not discriminate. However, females with the disease outnumber males by three to one, and Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Miniature Schnauzers, Keeshonden and Poodles have the highest incidence of diabetes.

When a dog gets diabetes, it's because of inadequate insulin production by the islet cells in the pancreas. For some dogs, this inadequate insulin production is due to a genetic predisposition. Insulin is essential for dogs, as it allows glucose to pass into the cells, which metabolize the glucose for energy. When a dog is insulin deficient, it will develop high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, as well as a high urine sugar, a condition also known as glycosuria. When glucose is present in its urine, a dog will urinate more frequently, which sets off a chain reaction that includes dehydration and an urge to consume large amounts of water.

In addition to those symptoms, some additional signs a dog might have diabetes include:

* Weight loss

* Increased appetite

* Recurrent infections

* Intolerance of exercise

While any of the aforementioned symptoms can be indicative of diabetes, their presence does not necessarily mean a dog is diabetic. For example, a dog that cannot hold its urine might be suffering from a bladder or kidney infection instead of diabetes. When a dog is exhibiting issues with regards to urination, the best thing an owner can do is consult a veterinarian immediately.

If diabetes is not diagnosed early on, then a dog might exhibit different symptoms once the disease has begun to advance. Cataracts, for instance, are common in diabetic dogs, so if a veterinarian determines a dog has cataracts, then he or she might want to test a dog for diabetes if no such test has been conducted already. Symptoms of advanced diabetes include:

* Lethargy

* Loss of appetite

* Vomiting

* Dehydration

* Weakness

* Coma

If left untreated, diabetes in dogs can be devastating to the animal. Diabetes affects all organs, and dogs who aren't receiving treatment for diabetes are more susceptible to infections and are likely to develop neurological problems as well. Enlarged livers are also common in dogs who have diabetes but aren't receiving treatment.

More information about canine diabetes is available at www.caninediabetes.org.