How will you know if your pet is suffering or is at risk of being diabetic? Many people believe that diabetes is a human disease and may not affect animals. Well, they are wrong. Cats, dogs, and pretty much any animal can be a victim of this popular condition. Consider this scenario; your dog or cat eats a lot every day. That is such a great appetite, right? Yes!

But for some reason, your pet starts losing weight despite the amount of food it eats throughout the day. It starts drinking a lot of water, leading to frequent urination. Basically, your dog changes its normal behaviour completely. What could be wrong with your dog? One of the diseases that come into mind is diabetes. What exactly is this condition? If these are some of the questions bothering you, then you have come to the right place. Here we will cover everything pertaining to diabetes in pets.

Define Diabetes…

Diabetes is a condition associated with the pancreas, whether human or that of an animal. In both cases, the pancreas is tasked with the production of Insulin. This is a hormone that ensures that cells receive enough amounts of glucose for optimum metabolism. Generally, this is what happens, but more operations are involved between these steps.

Now, guess what will happen if the pancreas does not produce enough Insulin. There won’t be optimum movement of glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. Consequently, the cells will not be able to carry out certain tasks, such as the production of energy. Failure to address the situation early enough leads to diabetes, which is a life-threatening condition.

There are two types of diabetes in dogs; insulin-resistance and insulin-deficiency diabetes.

Insulin-deficiency diabetes

As stated in the definition above, the pancreas may fail to produce enough insulin. This usually happens when Fido’s pancreas malfunctions or is damaged in one way or another. If you suspect that your puppy is suffering from diabetes, there is a very high chance that it is insulin-deficiency. The treatment for this condition includes the injection of insulin into the puppy’s body to cater to the missing factor.

Insulin-Resistance diabetes

Another form of diabetes is insulin resistance, and it comes about when your puppy’s body fails to utilize the little insulin available. This type is common in older pets or those with obese bodies. The main characteristic of this condition is the fact that cells may not recognize or respond to whatever is relayed by insulin. In the end, little glucose will be getting into the cells, which in return will not be able to carry out crucial metabolic reactions.

In 2015, Nationwide Insurance surveyed to determine the most common disease among pets. The report was created using pet insurance data, and it was concluded that diabetes had the 3rd largest number of cases in dogs. Therefore, diabetes in dogs is a very common occurrence affecting at least one in every group of 300 dogs. Cats, on the other hand, have the highest numbers with a group of 200 cats containing at least one victim. This shocking data is exclusively for diabetes mellitus. So, why are these numbers high? What makes your pet more prone to diabetes? Well, let’s have a look!

Age: A look at the same condition in humans shows that most victims are the elderly. There are cases of young children having diabetes, but they are quite rare. The same applies to pets; the older your dog or cat, the higher the chances of it being diabetic. Therefore, you should always pay attention to the behavior of your dog, especially when it is aging.

Pancreatitis: This is a condition that leads to the inflammation of the pancreas. When digestive enzymes are released and activated before they get to the small intestines, they start “digesting” the pancreatic walls. Consequently, the damages will affect insulin production, and the process explained in the previous section takes place.

Gender: Surprisingly, gender is another thing that will determine the chances of your dog is diabetic. Female dogs are at a higher disadvantage when it comes to this condition. Research suggests that females are twice more likely to have diabetes than their male counterparts. Currently, the ratio of diabetic females to males is 3:7.

Obesity: Is your dog obese? Well, unfortunately, that is another factor that leads to diabetes. Obesity leads to insulin resistance, which then causes diabetes. Reports suggest that about 59% and 54% of cats and dogs respectively are overweight. If your pet is among the aforementioned percentages, it is advisable to start exercising them, introducing a favorable diet.

Steroid Medicine: Similar to most medical pills or syrups, steroids have some side effects that could be deadly to your pet’s health. The impact is an increase in the pet’s blood sugar level and put your pup or kitty at risk of having diabetes.

Even if your dog or cat is not on steroids, other factors could have the same effect. For instance, if they are suffering from Cushing’s disease, the repercussions will be more or less similar. This disease leads to overproduction of steroids within the body, which also impacts the sugar level.

Genetics: This has an aspect that plays a major role in an animal’s or human’s entire life. Many diseases can be inherited genetically, and diabetes is one of them. Therefore, if all the factors mentioned above do not apply to your dog, then don’t rule out genetics. As they say, being proactive is better than being reactive. Whether your pet is a pure or mixed breed, reports suggest the chances of having diabetes are equal. However, a few pure breeds are at a higher risk of being diabetic.

Any subject involving genetics is quite complex and cannot be discussed and concluded in a few simple paragraphs. However, since you are eager to know whether your dog’s breed is more prone to this disease, we will go an extra step and list some of these breeds. You can find further information concerning these dogs in Richard Nelson and Edward Feldman’s novel: Canine and Feline Endocrinology & Reproduction.

The breeds include; Terriers, Samoyeds, Cocker Spaniels, Pomeranians, Keeshond, Dachshunds, Toy Poodles, German Shepherds, and Doberman. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. Therefore, we recommend that you consult your vet concerning the breed of your pet.

You have seen some of the hints that could give you an idea on the health status of your dog. However, you are still not sure whether your dog is suffering from diabetes. Well, what are the main signs for which you should look out? This is an important piece of information because it gives you a chance to spot and sort out the problem as soon as possible.

Constant Hunger

At the beginning of this article, we gave you a hypothetical scenario where you have a pet whose behavior is gradually changing. Some of these changes include frequent eating, sometimes taking as many as eight meals per day. This is a worrying sign, especially if the previous schedule was not as frequent as the current one. A normal dog or cat may eat thrice in a day and feel satisfied throughout. Therefore, if your dog has been hungrier than usual, that is one sign of diabetes. Note that this is not a confirmation that your pet is diabetic. You will need further observations to ascertain the condition.

Excessive Thirst

You might be aware of this symptom, as it is the most commonly known when it comes to diabetes. Since very small amounts of sugar are pulled out of the bloodstream, your pet’s blood becomes highly concentrated with glucose. As such, more water is needed to dilute and make favorable for other parts of the body. The pet will, therefore, be forced to drink as much water as possible. If your dog as the two symptoms already mentioned here, there is a higher chance that its health is at risk.

Excessive Urination

Since a lot of water has been taken in, it will also have to be taken out in one way or another. You will realize that your dog urinates more frequently than usual. This is a red flag that should be addressed immediately.

Weight Loss

Despite eating more meals every day, your dog is still losing weight. What could be the problem? The best thing to do is to contact your vet and let them have a look at the situation. Be sure to mention to them every single detail of your pet’s behaviour. If you are not aware of your puppy’s weight, remember that it is your responsibility to keep track of such details as the owner.

Lethargy

Maybe you have noticed that your dog likes lying down and appears weak. Well, if it happens with an increasing frequency, especially simultaneously with the other symptoms, do not hesitate to phone a specialist. As explained before, if cells do not receive glucose, they won’t be able to carry out their metabolic processes. Most of these reactions lead to the production of the energy used by the pet’s body. Therefore, the weakness shown by your dog or cat might be due to diabetes.

Decreased Appetite

Every dog will react differently to diabetes. Although most of them have an increased appetite, others experience the opposite.

Vision Problems

Sometimes you may notice your dog that your dog finds it difficult to see where they are going. Their vision, which is usually very powerful, may have been tampered with by the effects of diabetes. The sight might be impacted to a point where they cannot recognize their favorite spots.

Dehydration and Vomiting

This is probably the deadliest symptom of all signs of diabetes. Looking weak and frequent vomiting is a sign that your pet is in big trouble. As usual, the first person to contact should be your vet. They will be able to help by giving you the next steps to follow. These symptoms are accompanied by muscle wasting, bladder infection, and kidney failure.

Closing Remarks

In this article, we have defined diabetes in simple words and gone further to discuss the two types of this condition. The symptoms listed above are based on several research studies done on many pets over some time. Therefore, they might not be accurate, but there is every chance that your pet will exhibit the same signs in case it falls into a similar situation. You should keep track of your pet’s health record to ensure that spot the changes early enough. Cure diabetes and keep your “friend” healthy.

 

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