Thursday, November 12, 2009
By Linda Cole
Just like people, dogs can suffer from a variety of diseases. Some are more severe than others. Since our pets can't tell us when they don't feel well, it's up to us to be able to see when there's a change in their routine, eating and drinking habits, or behavior. Canine diabetes is a common disease in dogs that can be controlled if caught in the early stages.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is a hormone that regulates blood glucose. Canine diabetes results from the destruction of cells called beta pancreatic cells. These cells are responsible for the secretion of insulin. If they are destroyed, the dog is no longer able to produce insulin, which will then create hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose levels).
There are four main symptoms related to canine diabetes: drinking a lot of water, excessive urination, weight loss, and an increase in appetite even though the dog keeps losing weight. A dog with diabetes may develop cataracts even before other symptoms are noticed, but not always. They may also have problems with infections that keep coming back.
German Shepherds, Poodles, Beagles and Schnauzers are more susceptible to canine diabetes than other breeds. Females, especially obese ones, seem to be affected more than males, and larger dogs have a greater chance than smaller dogs of developing this disease. However, any sex, size or age of dogs can develop diabetes. Canine diabetes doesn't usually begin to show up until the dog becomes older, but younger dogs can develop this hereditary disease. Cats can also develop diabetes, and have the same symptoms as dogs.
There are two types of this autoimmune disease, but the more serious one that requires daily insulin is called Diabetes Mellitus. It's important to catch this form of diabetes in the early stages in order to control the disease and stabilize your dog with insulin shots, proper diet and adequate exercise. Regular monitoring by your vet also helps keep canine diabetes in check.
A simple blood sugar test can determine if your dog has diabetes. A vet can perform this test right in his office. By understanding symptoms associated with canine diabetes and getting the dog to your vet when you begin to notice any of the symptoms, your dog has a good chance of living a full and healthy life.
My mom had two dogs that developed diabetes at different times. Mom's first dog, an American Eskimo named Heidi, enjoyed a long, healthy life even with diabetes. Tony, also an American Eskimo, had a harder time dealing with it. He was a young dog when he developed this disease and had underlying health issues due to under nourishment and poor living conditions as a puppy, before Mom got him. His diabetes brought all his other health problems to the surface. Dogs are like us, and lack of exercise, poor diet and not enough food early in life can make a difference as they grow older. If possible, knowing your dog's family history can give you insight into hereditary diseases like diabetes, that could develop as they grow older.
Helping your dog stay fit and knowing what to look for can help them better handle canine diabetes if they should develop it. Most dogs can live long, healthy lives when it's caught early. If you suspect your pet may have developed diabetes, don't hesitate to talk with your vet. He can quickly determine if your dog has diabetes and can answer any questions you may have. Canine diabetes does require proper diet and exercise, and the dog may need regular insulin shots, but with proper care, your pet can lead a normal life. If you notice even one of the four symptoms, it's a good idea to have your dog checked out by your vet as soon as possible.
Read more articles by Linda Cole