What is diabetes mellitus in dogs and what are the symptoms?
What is diabetes mellitus and what are the symptoms?
Blood sugar is used to supply the body with energy. In order for the body cells to be able to absorb sugar, the hormone insulin is required. Like a key, insulin opens the door so that the sugar can be transported into the cell. Insulin is a protein found in special
Cells produced in the pancreas. Insulin is released from the pancreas into the bloodstream and from there is carried to cells throughout the body. If the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the cells cannot use the sugar in the blood.
To compensate for this lack of energy, there is a pronounced feeling of hunger and body substance is broken down. The sugar that is not absorbed into the cells rises in the blood. When there is too much sugar in the blood, it passes into the urine. Water is drawn into the urine and a much larger amount of urine is produced than in healthy animals. This can lead to heavy water losses. As a result, the animals begin to drink heavily in order to maintain the body’s water balance. The main symptoms of diabetes:
- excessive appetite
- strong thirst
- weight loss
- increased urination
How is the diagnosis made?
Despite the relatively simple diagnosis, we recommend additional tests to make a statement about the severity and consequences of diabetes mellitus. Most dogs with diabetes mellitus are middle-aged (or older) and may have additional medical issues. The most common are urinary tract infections, skin infections and inflammation of the pancreas.
Is a cure possible?
Diabetes in dogs will rarely reverse. In order to counteract insulin resistance, it makes sense to reduce the weight of overweight animals. Since blood sugar levels in bitches often rise due to hormones after heat, we recommend castration for diabetic patients to prevent fluctuations. Diabetes can also be triggered by cortisone treatment. In this case, the therapy should be tapered off in order to normalize the blood sugar level.
Can my dog be treated with tablets instead of injections?
Unfortunately, insulin always has to be given as an injection. Dogs do not react or react only very briefly to sugar-lowering medication in tablet form.
What is the quality of life with diabetes?
Most dogs with diabetes who are treated with insulin lead normal lives. We recommend a specific insulin, the dose and the frequency of insulin administration. Most animals need insulin twice a day. An individual insulin dose must be found for each patient. The right dose for your animal is determined by means of check-ups.
How do I give the insulin?
Giving an injection is uncomfortable for most owners and of course dogs feel the prick of the needle. But after a few weeks of practice, you will become quite routine and your animal will accept the little “poke”. Do not give up!
Store the insulin upright in the refrigerator. If insulin is stored at room temperature, it may become less effective. Before each insulin withdrawal, the insulin should be rolled in the hand for approx. 1 minute. Then pull on the necessary units, making sure that any air bubbles are completely removed. The exact dosage of the insulin is important. To inject the insulin, pinch a small fold of skin on your side or neck between your thumb and forefinger. Position the needle at about a 45° angle below your fingertips and push it through the skin as far as possible (insulin syringe needles tend to be short). Do not inject until the needle is all the way through the skin. Withdraw the needle from your skin when the syringe is completely empty.
The animals usually tolerate the administration of insulin better when they are somewhat distracted, e.g. when eating or being petted.
How is insulin underdosed?
If your dog gets too little insulin, the symptoms of diabetes mellitus will persist (increased food intake and urination, thirst, weight loss). There are various reasons why underdosing of insulin can occur: either your animal is receiving too little a dose or mistakes are made when injecting the insulin. Therefore we may ask you to show us how to inject the insulin.
What is an insulin overdose?
Taking too much insulin causes the blood sugar level to drop too low. This can lead to various problems: weakness, unsteadiness or seizures. If you suspect your pet has low blood sugar, it is best to feed them right away. In an emergency (e.g. unconsciousness) put honey or glucose in the cheek pouch, the sugar can then be absorbed through the mucous membrane and contact us or your veterinarian immediately and present the animal again.
What should be done if an insulin dose is missed or an error occurs while injecting?
If you forget to inject or are unsure if your pet got all of the insulin it was supposed to, simply give the normal amount of insulin the next time it’s scheduled. Do not catch up on a missed insulin dose at a later time!
What should I do if my pet won’t eat or vomit?
If one of these cases occurs, contact a veterinarian immediately or drive directly to the veterinary clinic. It’s better to go to the hospital once too often than to overlook a serious complication.
How is insulin therapy monitored?
We recommend regular checks: blood sugar is measured at regular intervals over a period of at least 12 hours. This can be done here in the clinic or even better at your home as stress affects blood sugar.
Your veterinarian will be happy to show you exactly how this is done.