How To Care For A Dog With Diabetes
Category : How To Care For A Dog With Diabetes
Diabetes in dogs is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin.
After a dog eats, his digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose-which is carried into his cells by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When a dog does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, his blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems for a dog.
It is important to understand, however, that diabetes is considered a manageable disorder-and many diabetic dogs can lead happy, healthy lives.
Why Dogs Get Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, the form of the disease that strikes the young, is actually quite rare in companion animals when they reach middle-age or senior years.
Your dog is much more likely to develop Type II (adult-onset) diabetes around middle age or in his senior years, as a result of a lifestyle that has led to decreased production of insulin or the inability of his body to use it efficiently.
Obesity is far and away the biggest reason pets become diabetic.
You can help your dog stay trim by feeding him a portion controlled, moisture rich species-appropriate diet consisting primarily of a variety of unadulterated protein sources, healthy fats, veggies and fruit in moderation, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary.
Your pet has no biological requirement for grains or most other carbs. Carbs, which can be as much as 80 percent the ingredient content of processed pet food, turn into sugar in your pet’s body. Excess sugar in dogs leads to diabetes.
Another lifestyle-related reason pets develop diabetes, one that often goes hand-in-hand with poor nutrition, is lack of physical activity.
Your dog needs regular aerobic exertion to help maintain a healthy weight and to keep his/her muscles in shape. Your pet should be getting 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic type exercise several days a week.
What Type of Diabetes Do Most Dogs Get?
Diabetes can be classified as either Type 1 (lack of insulin production) or Type II (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone.)
Diabetes in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide to Diabetes in Dogs
The most common form of the disease in young dogs is Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas is incapable of producing or secreting adequate levels of insulin. Dogs who have Type I require insulin therapy to survive. Type II diabetes is found in cats and senior dogs and is a lack of normal response to insulin.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?
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What Causes Diabetes in Dogs?
The exact cause of diabetes is unknown. However, autoimmune disease, genetics, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can play a major role in the development of the disease.
Which Dogs Are Prone to Diabetes?
It is thought that obese dogs and female dogs may run a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life (6-9 years of age). Some breeds may also run a greater risk, including Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes can also be seen and is particularly prevalent in golden retrievers and keeshonds.
Treating Canine Diabetes
A blood test that measures your dog’s blood glucose level is the most common diagnostic tool, but a high glucose level does not always mean diabetes. Because other diseases sometimes raise these levels, your vet may run additional tests to rule out such causes.
Once your dog is diagnosed, her veterinarian will obtain a “serial blood glucose–concentration curve” by measuring his/ her glucose level repeatedly over many hours. The results will help the vet choose an appropriate insulin, dose and dosing schedule.
In addition to insulin treatment, if you have a dog with diabetes, you also need to take a holistic approach to manage all facets of your dog’s life in order to keep the glucose levels in check. In particular, it is extremely important to pay attention to your pet’s diet, supplements, exercise, and weight control.
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Diabetic Dog Diet
The general guidelines for a healthy diabetic dog diet are:
1.Feeding the dog natural wholesome food in small doses, two or three times a day. Regular and small dosages will make it easier for the body to produce and utilize the sugar as well as the insulin.
2.Feeding time should be the same every day.
3.The amount of food should also be the same every day.
Foods to avoid:
1.Soft or semi-moist pet foods – Usually they contain a lot of sugar, preservatives, and artificial colors.
2.Fatty meats and excessive oil – Enzymes need to be produced especially for the breakdown of fat, thus digesting fatty meats puts extra stress on the pancreas.
3.High carb foods – If a dog diet is high in carbohydrates, they will eventually be broken down into sugar. Excess sugar in the blood can lead to diabetes.
A regular exercise program is important as it has the effect of decreasing insulin needs. However, irregular exercise will destabilize insulin needs, so the key is to:
1.Have the same amount of exercise every day;
2.Exercise at the same time of day;
3.Have the same duration of exercise time every day.
If there is a change in the daily exercise routine, diabetic dogs can become seriously hypoglycemic (dangerously low blood sugar level). As a precaution, therefore, always carry some sugar source with you when you take your diabetic dog out for exercise.
If your diabetic dog is obese, gradual weight loss is highly recommended. Weight loss may help to reduce your dog’s need for insulin. However, the key is to lose weight gradually. Rapid weight loss should be avoided.
Monitor your diabetic dog’s progress
Keeping a logbook can help you monitor your diabetic dog’s progress. Every day, record blood glucose test results; any ketone test results; changes in your dog’s appetite, weight, appearance, water intake, urination frequency or mood; and any treatment changes your veterinarian makes. A simple notebook, calendar or computer spreadsheet works well.
Among the things to watch for on a day-to-day basis are hyperglycemia, when blood glucose levels rise above the top end of the recommended normal level (ask your vet what this is for your dog; since perfect control isn’t always attainable with current methods, vets generally try to keep most dogs below 200 mg/dl), and hypoglycemia, when the level drops to 60 mg/dl or less.
Hyperglycemia can lead to ketoacidosis (harmful levels of ketones in the blood), which qualifies as an emergency, and you should call your vet right away. Symptoms include drinking lots of water, urinating frequently or copiously, loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, lethargy, ketones in the urine, or—in the most serious situation—coma. Test strips are available to detect ketones in your dog’s urine, and you should report the presence of ketones to your veterinarian immediately, even if your dog has no other symptoms.
In hypoglycemia, a range of symptoms may be present, including restlessness, lethargy, confusion, weakness, wobbliness, lack of coordination, shivering, sweaty paws, seizures or coma. Test your dog’s blood glucose level if these symptoms appear. If it is below the recommended level, rub maple syrup, Karo syrup or tube cake frosting—high-sugar foods that are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream—on your dog’s gums and the inside of her cheek, then call your vet to report the episode and get further instructions.
Natural Supplements for Diabetes in Dogs
Supplements should be added to a diabetic dog diet to further help glucose metabolism in the body.
1.One important supplement is brewer’s yeast. The chromium in the yeast aids the body in using blood sugar more effectively. You can give one teaspoon to one tablespoon (depending on the size of your dog) of brewer’s yeast with each meal to your dog.
2.Vitamins C and E are also essential.
3.Herbs can also be used to help strengthen and support major body systems that have been weakened by diabetes. Dogs with diabetes are unlikely to be able to fully utilize nutrients; therefore, herbs that aid digestion and nutrient absorption will be beneficial to diabetic dogs. Dandelion leaf, alfalfa, and calendula are such herbs.
4.Some herbs are effective in maintaining and moderating blood sugar levels, such as dandelion root and burdock root.
5.Aloe vera and fenugreek seeds have also been found to be able to reduce blood sugar levels and stimulate insulin production in diabetic animals.
6.Garlic is another useful herb for diabetes in dogs. Garlic stimulates the stomach and intestines and increases digestive organ function.
7.Cinnamon may also be helpful for dogs with diabetes as it may improve how the body uses glucose by enhancing the action of insulin. Since cinnamon is also an antioxidant and is good for dogs, it does not hurt to sprinkle some cinnamon on your diabetic dog’s food on a regular basis.
8.Although not an herb, kelp, also with antioxidant properties, may be capable of helping the body in secreting insulin, thereby lowering the blood sugar levels.
Life-threatening complications of Pet Diabetes
When diabetes goes undiagnosed, or when it is difficult to control or regulate, the complication of diabetes ketoacidosis (DKA) can occur.
How Can I Prevent Pet Diabetes?
In both dogs and cats, diabetes is tied to obesity and age. If your pet is over 10 years old and weighs too much, he or she is at a higher risk for diabetes. To decrease this risk, you can work with your veterinarian to increase your pet’s exercise level and decrease his or her caloric intake.
Just like with people, if pets consume more calories than they exert, they will gain weight. However, not all calories are created equal. It’s best to choose higher protein foods, and many pet parents find that a grain-free pet food with natural ingredients helps prevent their pets from gaining weight.
Because a higher-protein diet can be more nutrient dense (as well as calorie dense), you may need to speak with your vet about decreasing your pet’s portion size when you transition foods.
Some vets say that a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet may help prevent diabetes.