(By: Sue Moore) - The rate of diabetes in America's pets has more than tripled since 1970. Today it affects approximately 1 in every 160 dogs. Canine diabetes is a lifetime condition that requires careful blood monitoring and daily insulin injections, unlike human diabetes which can possibly be treated with a controlled diet.
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas has the inability to produce insulin, known as Type 1. This is the type that affects virtually all dogs. Dogs can also develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, just like humans.
Diabetes is one of the most common endocrine diseases affecting middle-aged and senior dogs, with 70% of patients older than seven at the time of diagnosis. Diabetes rarely occurs in dogs younger than one year of age and is more common in females and neutered males than in intact males.
These breeds may be at higher risk to develop diabetes partially due to genetics. Here are a few breeds that could be in the higher risk range, Keeshonds, Pulis, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Pinchers, Poodles (Miniature and Toy), Samoyeds, Austrailian Terriers, Schnuauzers, Spitz, Fox Terriers, Bichon Frise, Siberian Huskies, and Pugs.
It is likely that around 50% of diabetic cases are linked to pancreatic damage caused by autoimmune disorders. This can possibly be attributed to genetics and or environmental factors. It is also possible that diet plays a factor in this diagnosis as well.
Chronic inflammation of the pancreas may be attributed to around 30% of canine cases. The pancreatic disease can also result in the deficiency of digestive enzymes. The signs of diabetes can occur several months before the digestive enzyme deficiency appears.
There is no clear evidence that obesity causes diabetes in dogs. A dog can develop insulin resistance due to being overweight, making it more difficult to regulate their condition. They can also develop pancreatitis due to obesity, which then can lead to diabetes.
Some symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst as well as more frequent urination. They can also experience weight loss even though they are still eating the same amount and sometimes more than normal.
A simple blood and/or urine test can confirm a diabetes diagnosis. Canine diabetes may be complicated when the patient is already ill, such as not eating or vomiting which may require a hospital stay. Uncomplicated cases may be treated at home, which is the most common of the two.
With proper treatment, dogs with diabetes can lead a normal life. The first six months is the most crucial due to regulating their insulin. Once that is stabilized, dogs can lead a normal, healthy, and happy life.
Exercise should be consistent as far as the type of activity and time of day. Try to avoid intermittent or unplanned strenuous exercise. A good time for regular planned exercise would be 20 to 30 minutes before the evening meal and the administering of insulin.
The key to taking care of your dog, if he is diagnosed with diabetes, is to stay on a daily schedule and be consistent. This will enable you to keep his insulin level at a regulated number. Once you know how much he or she needs to eat and what time, as well as the dosage of insulin to be regulated, it is just a matter of doing this the same every day from here on out. This includes whatever exercise plan can be fit into the day to keep the levels regulated. If you deter from this, his insulin will have to be adjusted, thus making a little more difficult for the caretaker/owner.