Did you know? One out of every 300 dogs is diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes is becoming frighteningly common in dogs today. It’s due to the combination of many factors like food, lifestyle and genetics. Once your dog gets diabetes, they are most likely to need insulin for the rest of their life. It doesn’t end at that. Diabetes gives rise to many other health conditions which can cause long-term damage to your dog’s body.
Most of us aren’t even aware that our dogs are prone to diabetes. But the good news is that you can do a lot of things to prevent and manage it.
What is Diabetes?
When food is digested, the body breaks down the nutrients into glucose, a type of sugar that provides energy to the body. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas which helps the cells intake glucose and other nutrients into the bloodstream and use them as fuel.
Diabetes Mellitus, sometimes known as “sugar diabetes” is not just a result of high sugar intake. It is a metabolic and lifestyle disorder that arises when the body either fails to produce insulin or cannot utilize it properly.
When the dog’s pancreas is damaged or not functioning properly, insulin isn’t produced enough. This is why the dog needs extra shots to replace the missing insulin. This type of diabetes, known as the ‘Insulin-deficiency diabetes’ is the most common type in dogs.
However, when the pancreas produces enough insulin, but it’s unable to communicate with the cells and let them pull glucose out of the blood, it results in a deficiency of glucose in the body. This type of diabetes, known as the ‘Insulin-resistance diabetes’ occurs, especially in older, obese dogs.
Signs of Diabetes in your pooch
While diabetes is a quiet disease in the initial stages and can often go undetected till it becomes severe, there are certain symptoms that can help you identify the disease in its early stages.
- Excessive weight loss
Despite eating more food, your dog may shed weight more quickly. This is because the food isn’t getting converted into the required nutrients and energy.
- Increased appetite
Your doggo can feel hungry all the time because the body cells are not getting enough glucose even while eating the same amount of food.
- Lack of energy/Fatigue/Lethargy
The loss of glucose in the body will bring your doggo’s energy levels down, resulting in fatigue or lethargy. If you notice your doggo being extra lazy consistently, it’s time to see a vet.
- Chronic infections
The lack of energy in the body can make the immune system weak, making the body prone to many infections.
- Frequent urination
The body tries to get rid of excess sugar by sending it out through urine. This results in frequent urination throughout the day.
- Excessive thirst
Because of more water being lost in frequent urination, the dog’s body requires more water than usual to make up for the deficiency.
Diabetes doesn’t end at it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many other health issues which can cause long-lasting effects on the dog’s body. To prevent these, early diagnosis and proper treatment of diabetes are crucial. The health threats of diabetes include:
Diabetes cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in both humans and dogs. Many dogs develop cataracts within 6 months of getting diagnosed with diabetes. Cataract can cause pain, eye redness and pupil contractions in dogs’ eyes.
The excessive sugar in urine makes the bladder, teeth, kidneys and heart prone to infections. The excess of sugar in urine can make the bladder more prone to bacterial infections. It can lead to urinary tract infections. Moreover, dental tartar can lead to tooth decay. Therefore, it’s extremely important to take care of all body organs when diagnosed with diabetes.
The kidney and heart are especially prone to infections when the blood sugar levels rise in the body.
Hypoglycemia, also known as insulin reaction is a condition where the blood glucose level drops to the minimum. The brain requires glucose for energy all the time, and a lack of it can cause brain damage or seizures.
How to avoid it?
- A fulfilling and nutritious diet
With a nutrition filled diet that includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, you can make your dog’s body immune to diseases and lead a healthy life.
You can subscribe to monthly healthy food for your doggo as per their age, breed, preference and health conditions at The Dog Box.
- Eliminate processed foods
Processed food like kibble contains many chemicals, preservatives and excess sugar and salt that are really harmful to your body. Many forms of toxins are introduced to our dog’s body through these over-cooked kibble diets. These toxins are not just harmful in the short-term but can lead to long-term and more serious diseases.
To know more about why kibble is not a good food choice for your doggo, read here.
- Right exercise
Exercise plays a vital role in maintaining glycemic spikes by promoting weight loss and keeping the metabolism running right. With the right exercise, dog’s metabolism functions right in order to help them cope with the lack of sugar. It also increases glucose effectiveness that is introduced with insulin shots.
When the body is in turmoil, a little destressing helps your dog calm down. Engaging in mentally stimulating play times will calm your doggo down and let him relax. Stress can also raise blood sugar levels and can affect insulin resistance. It impairs glucose tolerance and can also lead to more weight loss. Overall, stress has a major role to play in diabetes, so it’s best to keep it at bay while your pooch is already struggling with a lot of other issues.
You can learn more about destressing your doggo here. (Insert the link to ‘6 ways to stimulate your doggo’s mind at home’)
Diabetes can happen to anyone. The best way to ensure your dog stays safe is to do everything in your power to avoid it. But following these steps is not enough to keep it at bay. If your dog still develops diabetes, these will help you in early detection and better management.
Dogs Naturally Magazine
European Journal of Applied Sciences