Diabetes is something that as humans, we know we are all potentially at risk of developing. That’s why it’s important to eat a healthy diet and cut back on all the sugary cookies, muffins and other tempting snacks. But diabetes isn’t a disease that is unique to humans. Your faithful canine companion Charlotte is also at risk for this disease. Although it sounds a bit scary, it’s not as bad as it may seem: most research shows that with treatment, diabetic dogs live just as long as non-diabetic dogs. But what exactly is canine diabetes and how is it treated?
You’re probably familiar with the terms “Type 1” and “Type 2” diabetes as it relates to humans. Type 1 diabetes is the one also known as juvenile diabetes. In this type, the pancreas completely stops producing insulin because of an autoimmune problem. Conversely, in type 2, the pancreas is still producing insulin, but at a lowered and resistant rate. Type 2 is the type that is more commonly caused by diet and thus can be treated with a change in diet. Type 1 can only be treated with insulin injections. You don’t have to worry that Charlotte got diabetes because of anything you did (extra treats and all!), because dogs can only get type 1. Right now there is no evidence that dogs can even contract type 2 diabetes.
Although type 1 diabetes is known as juvenile diabetes in humans, it most commonly occurs in older dogs. Although the exact causes for it are still a bit hazy, it does seem evident that certain breeds are more likely to contract it than others. For example, collies are more at risk than golden retrievers. Evidence also shows that female dogs are more prone to diagnose than males. The pancreas, which produces insulin in order to control blood sugar rates, will stop doing its job in Charlotte’s body, leading to her inability to properly metabolize sugar. Unchecked, this will lead to a host of problems like vomiting, dehydration, cataracts in the eyes, infections of other organs and a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis, which happens when fat is metabolized in the blood instead of sugar.
If Your Dog is Diagnosed, What to Look for and What Can You Expect?
If Charlotte is diagnosed early and treatment is started, there’s no need to worry about any of these things though. Simply put, Charlotte’s problem stems from her body not producing insulin, so with daily insulin shots, the problem is solved. So it’s important to know the warning signs for diabetes so that Charlotte can get diagnosed before things get more complicated.
One of the most common signs of early diabetes is Charlotte’s need to go urinate much frequently than before. You may not notice that she is peeing more frequently, but like humans, you will notice that she wants to drink and eat more to make up for the water loss. But even with an increased appetite, she still may appear to be losing weight. Her veterinarian will be able to diagnose her by testing sugar levels in her blood and/or urine.
With some initial insulin experimentation and testing, your vet will be able to tell you how often and how much insulin Charlotte will need on a daily basis. Right now the most common way to give them to her is with a shot, but an oral variant is being worked on and has shown some promising results. You may also be asked to regulate her diet in a certain way, as diet will affect how much insulin she needs.
Although canine diabetes will mean that you have to be a bit more attentive with Charlotte because of her insulin shots (or pills), you should rest assured that her health will not be at risk. Exercise is strongly recommended, as it would be in humans. She’ll need to continue the treatment for the rest of her life, but it should still be a long, healthy and happy life.