Diabetes in dogs is not an easy disease to handle with our pets. I had the first-hand experience with it when my now angel, Wyatt, had the disease. Living with a ton of guilt when I reminisce about my old husky boy, Wyatt and wonder if I could have done more for him with his illness.
Wyatt’s diagnosis came at six years of age; it was almost the same time my mom received her diagnoses too. Uncanny when I think back but because of my mother’s symptoms, I was alert to the changes in Wyatt’s behavior. Early detection is critical because a lot of damage can occur to your pet’s internal organs without it.
WHAT IS DIABETES IN DOGS?
Diabetes mellitus is a disease whereby the body suffers from an absolute shortage of insulin (Type I) or from an inadequate response from cells to the insulin that is being produced (Type II or insulin resistance). Both types prevent the body from converting glucose to energy, and the results are massive amounts of glucose in the blood or hyperglycemia.
Diabetes is fairly common in adults and dogs, especially Type II diabetes. Overweight dogs are at a higher risk, and many older dogs develop the disease. Type I diabetes is the most severe form of the disease, and the dog is dependent on daily insulin injections to maintain blood sugar balance. My Wyatt had two injections a day. One in the morning and one at night.
SYMPTOMS AND TYPES
- Early Signs
- Excessive Thirst
- Excessive Urination
- Weight Loss
Wyatt demonstrated all of the above except weight loss. He continued to gain weight once diagnosed and his mobility was very impaired.
- Later Signs
- Lethargy and Depression
Luckily, we caught Wyatt’s diabetes early on but he definitely suffered from lethargy and depression. As time went on he secluded himself back in the mudroom, not wanting to interact with our other dog, my kids, or the rest of the family. He drifted within himself, and we could no longer reach him to engage or even go out for a short walk.
- Other Symptoms
- Bladder of kidney infections
- Enlarged Liver
Unfortunately, as time went on, Wyatt did develop cataracts and was almost entirely blind. He was obese and had an enlarged liver. He continued to isolate himself only rising to eat his meals. I questioned his quality of life daily…
There are a few causes of diabetes in dogs, one being a genetic disposition. Some breeds are predisposed to the disease such as Keeshond, Samoyed, Poodle, and Beagle to name a few.
If you suspect diabetes in your dog, the diagnosis is relatively quick and easy. The hardest part for me was to bring in the urine sample. Luckily, Wyatt did lift his leg to urinate, so it was a matter of using a soup ladle and being quick on the draw. Standard tests will include a urine sample, blood work, and chemical profile.
TREATMENT AND CARE
Guilt and regret. This is where I wish I could have a do-over. Wyatt passed over the rainbow bridge eight years ago, and I suppose they didn’t know as much then as they do now. Maybe I just had a terrible vet and at the time didn’t know any different- I’m not sure, but the guilt is still thick. Now I’m aware of many proactive things to do to treat this disease, at the time all I did give Wyatt two shots of insulin a day and allowed him to seclude himself in a depressive state.
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There are treatment and care protocols for diabetes in dogs, and if you find yourself with a caretaker that isn’t proactive with both, find one that is.
- Daily exercise (whether you dog wants it or not)
- Lowering insulin demands and a balance of food and water is a priority
- Obesity needs to be managed slowly and carefully
- Food type is important. Do not feed soft and moist foods due to the rapid increase of glucose in the body. Fiber is crucial
- Develop a well thought out diet and stick to it
- Treats are OK as long as they are very low in sugar and carbs
The goal for any diabetic is to keep blood sugar levels as normal as possible. Diet is paramount too. Your vet should determine how many calories your dog needs, based on diagnosis and activity level. Feed your dog 2-3 times a day once you establish the schedule that works best for your pet.
So, your dog has diabetes. Get informed and stay informed. Don’t make the series of mistakes I made and forever regretted and wish for a do-over. Be proactive for your pet. He/she needs your voice during this time.
Please leave a comment and let me know if this information was helpful for you or not. I’d appreciate it!