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The growing diabetes epidemic is not limited to people—diabetes mellitus is increasing among dogs as well.
You may have heard that dogs generally get Type 1 diabetes, but the reality is more complicated. In IDD, a dog loses beta cells and no longer makes enough insulin to keep glucose levels under control.
The chapter on treating diabetes has detailed instructions and photographs to help you give insulin shots and test your dog’s blood glucose levels, an in-depth discussion of insulins, and hints for dealing with problems. The ACVIM website allows you to search for an internal medicine veterinary specialist near you. Pet DiabetesCanine Diabetes Information on diabetes and diabetes care, personal stories, mailing lists, and support for owners of pets with diabetes. To understand how nutrition plays into feeding a diabetic dog, it is necessary to understand how diabetes occurs in dogs. The fact that diabetic dogs are insulin dependent has a large impact on the feeding regimen necessary. In diabetic dogs, the insulin dosage can and should be adjusted to keep the blood glucose within acceptable levels.
Your explanation about the need for consistency in diet -- as well as exercise -- in order to keep blood sugar under control is very useful too.
Dancing Dog Blog by Mary Haight is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. What tests are suggested for the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus?-->-->Generally, the following screening tests are recommended when diabetes mellitus is suspected in your dog: a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis. We also offer free, instant access to over 1,500 related articles on your pet's health including preventive medicine, common and not so common diseases, and even informative case studies. Diabetes mellitus is a disease that manifests as an inability of the animala€™s body to use carbohydrates (sugars) properly. The downside of this fundamental aberration in carbohydrate utilization is that these basic, energy providing nutrients (sugars) are not able to enter the bodya€™s cells to a€?feeda€? them. By way of handling this starvation state, the body does things like start to break down certain tissues, fats for example, and mobilize stored sugar (glucose) in the body to attempt to generate energy with which to feed itself. Diabetes mellitus is considered a multifactorial disease in origin, meaning that a variety of factors play into its individual acquisition.
In dogs, a genetic predisposition to diabetes mellitus plays a larger role than obesity or exposure to certain drugs. Excessive thirst and urination: This happens because the huge quantity of sugar in the bloodstream spills into the urine and pulls water out of the bloodstream along with it, thereby causing increased urine production and urination. Appetite increase paired with weight loss: This happens because when sugars cannot enter cells, the body is unable to effectively use the food it takes in as energy. CBC (complete blood count) and chemistry profile: When a pet is ill, these tests are commonly performed together during initial blood testing to provide information about the peta€™s organ systems. In the long term, dogs with diabetes are often treated by insulin injection to help the bodya€™s needy cells use sugar more efficiently. Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Though there are no universally accepted definitions of dog diabetes, the United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College identifies two forms: insulin-deficiency diabetes (IDD) and insulin-resistance diabetes (IRD).
Causes include genetic defects, inflammation of the pancreas and immune attack (as in human Type 1 diabetes).
These include breed, age, gender, weight, diet, virus infections, an inflamed pancreas, chronic inflammation of the small bowel, Cushing’s disease (excess production of the hormone cortisol) and long-term use of progesterone-like drugs or steroid drugs. A study published in the Veterinary Journal in 2003 examined diabetes rates in thousands of American dogs and found that overall, mixed-breed dogs were more prone to diabetes than purebreds.
Obesity can make cells resistant to insulin, but it’s unclear whether it actually causes diabetes in dogs. A diet high in fat may contribute to pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas), a risk factor for diabetes. Roberts, PhD, is an award-winning science and medical writer and copyeditor who specializes in arthritis, diabetes and related subjects.
Lori Huston to first take us through the big picture and look at  other dog and human diseases that can be wrongly associated as being the same in our minds. However, when a dog has a health issue such as diabetes mellitus, nutrition becomes even more confusing.
In type 2 diabetic cats and people, dietary modification can have a significant effect on the ability to adequately regulate glucose levels and control diabetes.
The type of food is less important in controlling diabetes than the consistency in feeding, although it is still important that the diet be balanced to meet all of the dog’s nutritional needs.
I administer a forum for people caring for diabetic dogs and we see a lot of confusion on this topic.
The current thought is that genetics plays the biggest role in the development of diabetes in dogs. It reminds us once again that just because dogs and humans can have the same ailments, the causes and cures can be very different and need to be addressed species specific.
I just realized that the "not caused by obesity" might lead one to wonder: What does cause canine diabetes?
We encourage you to read any of these popular articles below or search our extensive pet health library.
With over 600 hospitals and 1,800 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, we strive to give your pet the very best in medical care. As with diabetes in humans, sometimes a doga€™s bodya€™s stops producing enough insulin or the cells of a doga€™s body are unable to use the insulin that is produced.
This occurs either because the pancreas does not manufacture sufficient quantities of the hormone the body requires for this function (insulin) or because the bodya€™s cells no longer recognize insulin properly. In the absence of the insulin required to allow sugars to gain entry to the cells, these efforts typically lead to a dangerous metabolic state called ketosis. Increased drinking is the bodya€™s way of trying to compensate for increased water loss through urination. Hunger is never satisfied despite a typically ravenous appetite, and weight loss is almost always a feature. The fructosamine level is therefore a close estimation of the blood glucose level, but it is less likely to change due to stress and other factors that affect the blood glucose level.
Your doga€™s weight, appetite, drinking and urination, and attitude at home can all provide useful information that helps determine if his or her diabetes is being well managed. However, insulin therapy and regular monitoring at home and by your veterinarian are necessary for the rest of your doga€™s life.

Fortunately, treatment has made huge strides in recent years, and as a result, dogs with diabetes are living longer, healthier lives. Type 2 diabetes has typically been a disease of middle and old age (though it is being seen increasingly in young people), and has two causes: The beta cells don’t make enough insulin, or muscle cells resist insulin’s help and don’t take in enough glucose (or both). It can be difficult to decide what to feed a diabetic dog and there are many differing opinions. That means that the cells in the pancreas are no longer able to secrete insulin, the hormone necessary to control blood glucose levels. In these species, diets low in carbohydrates (sugars) and high in protein can be helpful in regulating diabetes.
Although it is worth noting also that certain drugs (like corticosteroids) can increase the chance of diabetes occurring, as can a severe case of pancreatitis. Although no one knows for sure, the latest research that I have seen indicates that it's hereditary - just as type 1 is in humans. Can't diabetes be diagnosed by an elevated blood sugar value alone?While confirmation of elevated fasting blood and urine glucose (sugar) values is absolutely essential for the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, other screening tests may give us additional information regarding the severity of the diabetes, any conditions that may be contributing to the diabetes, and any complications related to the diabetic state. Not good toward boarding, grooming, prescription and non-prescription medication, and retail items. When either condition occurs, the result is diabetes mellitus, which causes excessive thirst and urination and extreme hunger accompanied by weight loss.
Moreover, when sensitive tissues like the brain dona€™t receive the required amount of energy, serious neurologic disruption a€” and death a€” can ensue.
Due to the high levels of bacteria-attracting sugar in the urine, urinary tract infections are a routine finding, as well. Additionally, the fructosamine level indicates where the blood sugar levels have been during the previous two to three weeks. Insulin injections, however, are generally started at the time of diagnosis and required long term to control the disease.
Your veterinarian will consider all of these factors when making recommendations for continued management.
Cells then extract glucose from the blood with the help of insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas in specialized cells called beta cells. That “something” may be “diestrus,” pregnancy, an endocrine disease, or treatment with steroids or progesterone-like hormones. Questions persist about whether carbohydrates, proteins or other nutrients in the food affect control of diabetes. As a result, in order to regulate the glucose levels in a diabetic dog, insulin must be provided from an outside source.
In fact, in some cases, remission leading to the ability to discontinue insulin therapy may become a possibility when low carbohydrate diets are used. However, the diabetic canine pancreas is unable to react to changes in carbohydrate levels or other nutrients. Variations in the feeding schedule or caloric intake will result in variations in the insulin needs, making insulin dosage more difficult. Huston also co-moderates DogTalk, a weekly twitter chat that focuses on a variety of dog topics. I had a diabetic dog that I was caring for and I had to make sure she got the same foods at every meal. One of the most frustrating things about having a diabetic dog is having people say, "Oh I know a cat that used to have diabetes and he stopped having to take insulin, so your dog may eventually be okay too." Before I knew any better, it gave me false hope. In a dog with diabetes, the blood sugar levels are usually high for long periods of time, which would be reflected by an increased fructosamine level.
They can be diagnosed with Type I diabetes where there is a shortage of insulin or Type II diabetes where the cells do not respond to insulin being produced, also known as insulin resistance. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells, cutting off insulin production; the reason for this attack is thought to be a combination of genetic predisposition plus exposure to a trigger (research into possible triggers is ongoing).
Diestrus, the most common cause of IRD, is the approximately two months of high levels of progesterone (a female hormone) between periods of estrus (heat).
This is usually done by giving regular insulin injections, although the use of insulin pumps embedded under the skin may gain popularity in the future.
This occurs because in type 2 diabetes the pancreas still retains some ability to secrete insulin, although the ability may be limited. The exception to this is the addition of fiber to the diet, which may aid in glucose regulation. When a consistent feeding program is instituted, insulin needs will not change drastically from day to day, allowing better management of canine diabetes. Both conditions prevent the internal organs and muscles from converting glucose to energy, resulting in excess amount of glucose in the blood known as hyperglycemia.Insulin DeficiencyInsulin deficiency caused by diabetes is a condition where protein, fats and carbohydrates are not digested well. Hormonally, diestrus resembles pregnancy, making this form of IRD similar to human gestational diabetes. It should be noted also that drastic changes in the exercise regimen will also impact blood glucose levels and the demand for insulin.
In other words, it is difficult for an animal to use the food they eat for energy and growth because it all depends on having sufficient amounts of insulin to help do the job.In order to break down and digest food into glucose in the bloodstream, the body needs insulin, a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. Diabetes is not curable, but it is treatable; a dog with diabetes may live many happy years after diagnosis. When insulin is working properly, the muscles and liver take up glucose from the blood and convert it into energy. Dogs with Type I diabetes require daily injections to maintain proper blood sugar balance.Always HungryDogs with this condition are hungry all the time because glucose is not getting to their brain, signaling they are full and have received food. Since insulin is not giving the internal organs and muscles a signal to convert glucose into energy, the excess glucose goes right out the body through urine causing a lack of energy in your pet.
Increased thirst is quite common, plus the kidneys, liver and eyes can also be affected.Diabetes can occur in your pet, usually dogs, at any age. Although most diabetic animals drink large quantities of water, they still lose a lot of body water because they produce such dilute urine.
Immune system disorders and other viral diseases can lead to diabetes.Standard tests that include a urinalysis, chemical profile and complete blood count are used to diagnose. Dehydration can be indicated on the CBC by increases in the packed cell volume (PCV - the proportion of the blood volume that is actually occupied by red blood cells) as well as increases in the total red blood cell count.
A high concentration of glucose in the urine and blood will show up as well as high levels of electrolyte imbalances and liver enzymes. In some severe diabetic states, lysis (rupture) of red blood cells within the blood stream may occur because of the loss of electrolytes. High levels of ketones, water-soluble compounds produced in the liver and kidney, will also show up.

A reduction in the PCV and red blood cell count will be seen on the CBC if this is occurring.
X-rays may be needed to determine if there are kidney stones present or inflammation of the liver and pancreas.TreatmentDaily exercise is key, something that is good for both of you when it comes to managing weight.
The first priority is to balance your dog’s food and liquid cravings to lower the demands on insulin. The presence of an infection may be indicated on the CBC by an increased number of white blood cells. If your pet has lost weight, then your veterinarian can help you with a plan for gaining weight to normal levels. What might the serum biochemistry profile indicate if my dog has diabetes mellitus?The serum biochemistry profile is performed on a separate blood sample from which the serum (the liquid portion of blood) has been separated from the cellular portion.
Serum contains many substances including glucose, enzymes, lipids (fats), proteins, and metabolic waste products. Determination of the serum glucose concentration is vital to the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
Lifestyle changes and proper management of the disease will go a long way in coping with diabetes in your pet.Reviewed and approved by Dr. A fasting sample is best because even in healthy dogs, the serum glucose may be mildly increased for up to four hours following a meal.
Most diabetic dogs will have moderate to marked increases in fasting serum glucose concentrations. These increases are usually far greater than those mild, transient increases noted after eating. She is a Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in Pilates, Yoga, Body Pump, STEP and Aerobics with over 20 years experience. She served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK and hosted her own weekly “Healthy Living” segments for PBS.
Sherry is passionate about helping animals and worked with “Helping All Animals” in Palm Springs, CA.
They are involved in many of the body's daily functions, including nerve conduction and maintenance of proper hydration.
Because of the large volume of dilute urine that diabetic dogs produce, excessive amounts of electrolytes may be lost in the urine.
Her experience working as a Veterinarian’s Assistant for many years’ aids in her passion for helping animals lead healthy and happy lives. For example, severe deficits in the electrolyte phosphorus may result in the rupture of red blood cells within the blood stream.
The liver related enzymes ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and AST (aspartate transaminase) may be increased mildly in diabetic dogs. These increases may reflect mild liver cell damage that is related to decreased blood flow due to dehydration.
Nicky LaMarco - Dec 16, 2013 Due to cats not getting neutered or spayed the population is continuing to grow.
Alterations in lipid (fat) metabolism because of diabetes may also contribute to increases in these liver enzymes. What might a urinalysis indicate if my dog has diabetes mellitus?-->-->A urinalysis is necessary for the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Other important features of the urinalysis that need to be evaluated in diabetic animals include evidence of urinary tract infection. The presence of glucose in the urine makes conditions ideal for bacterial growth; therefore, urinary tract infections are common. The urine is evaluated for the presence of red blood cells, white blood cells and bacteria. If a bacterial infection is identified or suspected, a culture of the urine may be indicated to identify the types of bacteria and determine the most appropriate antibiotics to treat the infection.
The presence or absence of ketones in the urine should always be evaluated in diabetic animals. Increased utilization of fat occurs in diabetic animals because their insulin deficiency results in poor utilization of carbohydrates as an energy source. Depending upon your dog's clinical signs, the presence of ketones in the urine may indicate a more severe or long-standing case of diabetes.
Once my dog has been started on insulin therapy, what monitoring tests will be necessary?-->-->When insulin therapy is first started, we will need to monitor your dog's blood glucose values frequently.
Typically, this involves serial blood or serum glucose determinations, often in the form of a glucose curve. Blood samples will then be taken every 2 hours throughout the day, and the results will be plotted on a graph.
This will show how well the insulin is controlling his blood glucose, when the insulin reaches its peak effect, and how long the action of the insulin lasts. While further adjustments in your dog's insulin dosage will undoubtedly need to be made, the blood glucose curve is valuable in evaluating your dog's response to the prescribed insulin product.
At home, one of the most simple and important things you can do for your dog is to monitor his appetite, water consumption, energy level, and urine output. Additional home monitoring can involve the evaluation of urine for the presence of glucose. This involves 'catching' a urine sample in a clean container and simply dipping a urine test strip that has an indicator pad for glucose. The presence of large amounts of glucose for two or three days in a row, or the complete absence of glucose, may indicate the need for adjustments in insulin dosage. Once your dog's optimal insulin dosage has been determined and his diabetes is well regulated, monitoring may involve weekly 'spot checks' of urine for the presence of glucose.
Serum fructosamine concentrations are another way of evaluating your dog's response to insulin therapy.
Fructosamine forms through the irreversible binding of glucose to proteins in your dog's blood stream. Serum fructosamine provides us with a retrospective view of the average blood glucose concentration that your dog has achieved over the past 2 to 3 weeks. However, recent changes in blood glucose concentrations will not be detected with the serum fructosamine test. Therefore, if your dog is showing any behavioral changes that might signal changes in his insulin requirements, then a direct blood glucose test will be more appropriate.

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