Diabetes mellitus is a disease that results due to insulin deficiency, and like humans, even dogs may be affected by this condition. Reports say that there is a three-fold increase in number of dogs diagnosed to be diabetic in last thirty years. By keeping an eye out on the clinical symptoms of diabetes in dogs, you can ensure that your four-legged friend is always healthy.
It should be noted that the symptoms of diabetes in dogs are almost the same as those in humans.
The Breeds That Are Affected
Diabetes generally affects all breeds of dogs, but certain breeds like German Shepherds, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, and Golden Retrievers are affected at a comparatively higher rate. In most cases, the main cause behind the condition is the immunological destruction of insulin producing cells of the pancreas. Genetic predisposition is also an important factor when it comes to the symptoms of diabetes in dogs.
How To Know If Your Dog Is Diabetic
Diabetes commonly affects middle-aged and elderly dogs. Over 70 percent of the affected dogs are above seven years of age, at the time of diagnosis. Diabetes seldom occurs in younger ones.
A typical diabetic dog would be middle-aged, overweight, and of the female gender. The female to male diabetes ratio in dogs is around 3:1.
The Main Symptoms Of Diabetes In Dogs
Symptoms appear gradually (over weeks) by 6-9 years of age in affected dogs.
Diabetes causes hyperglycemia, which is marked by high blood glucose levels – a characteristic feature of diabetes. Hyperglycemia further leads to the appearance of following symptoms.
- Polydypsia - Increased thirst and water consumption
- Polyphagia – Increased hunger, marked by a frequent urge to eat
- Polyuria – Increased frequency of passing urine
Other symptoms of diabetes in dogs include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Weakness and fatigue
- Cataract, amrked by cloudy eyes that cause diminution of vision
The Advanced Symptoms Of Diabetes In Dogs
As the condition progresses, the symptoms of diabetes in dogs also turn complex and serious in nature. Multiple organs in the body are affected during the advanced stages of diabetes, and here are some of the commonly observed complications:
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis
This is a serious complication of diabetes, so if you have any reason to suspect that your dog has ketoacidosis, find a veterinarian immediately.
Inadequate sugar utilization necessitates the formation of ketone bodies, which act as alternative sources of energy. These ketone bodies are the by-product of metabolic reactions in the body, and excess levels of such ketones in the blood can be detected in the laboratory to ketoacidosis.
It manifests clinically as an odor in the breath, and typically smells like a nail polish removing solution.
Diabetic dogs are especially prone to urinary tract infections, and mouth and gum infections. High levels of blood sugar facilitate the growth of infectious germs, and obvious symptoms like lethargy and vomiting generally point to infection.
- Kidney Damage
This condition is known as diabetic nephropathy. Long term blood sugar fluctuations can cause damage to the kidneys, bringing about renal failure with time.
The lens of eye is a transparent structure, but diabetes makes it susceptible to cataract (and the lens becomes opaque). This makes the eyes look cloudy and leads to the gradual loss of vision. This is one of the most easily identifiable symptoms of diabetes in dogs.
Once you note such symptoms, doctors will be able to confirm the presence of diabetes through various tests and laboratory findings. They will mainly look for:
- Elevated blood cholesterol lipids
- Protein in the urine, indicating kidney damage
- Increased liver enzymes and/or enlarged liver
- Elevated white blood cell count due to bacterial infections
Keeping an eye out for the symptoms of diabetes in dogs can help you save your dog and seek immediate consultation from veterinarians when there is a problem. Statistics reveal that only 50% of diabetic dogs survive for at least 2 months after diagnosis, with continued successful treatment at home. Dogs that are being treated for diabetes have the same life expectancy as non-diabetic dogs, so help your canine friend counter the condition.