The increased Pet obesity epidemic has resulted in the rise of diabetes in dogs. It can be disheartening to discover that your dog is diabetic. However, proper care is an efficient way of protecting your dog from diabetes to live a healthy and long life. The most important factors are proper food and exercises.
Diabetes requires lifelong management and treatment. You need to ensure the blood sugar is in check. If left untreated, your dog will develop severe health issues.
This article covers everything you need to know about protecting your dog from diabetes signs and symptoms.
Symptoms, Causes, and Solutions for Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes mellitus is a result of lower insulin production in the body. Insulin is needed for energy production in the cells.
Insufficient insulin causes nutrients to remain outside the cells. The cells are unable to utilize the nutrients they require to survive. This results in cell starvation.
Thorough annual checkups by a veterinary are essential for the dog. Diabetes is a silent disease. However, it could manifest in visible health or behavioral changes in your pet.
Watch for the following symptoms of diabetes in your pet:
- Weight loss – If your dog continues to lose weight but is eating frequently or even more, it can be diabetes.
- Constant thirst or hunger – A diabetic dog will showcase a massive need for water and food.
- Increased urination – copious or frequent urination.
- Unexpected accidents – some dogs suddenly have accidents around the house.
- Depression – If your dog seems unusually sad or lethargic
- Vomiting – Dogs might stop eating entirely or vomit in the late stages of diabetes.
What Causes Diabetes in Pets and Its Solutions
Most pets develop diabetes due to obesity. When a dog consumes a diet that is high in carbs and calories, he/she is likely to gain weight. Feed your pet just enough portions of a moisture-rich, appropriate food with low starch, various proteins, healthy fats, and moderate veggies and fruit.
2) Sedentary Lifestyle
Lack of exercise poses a high risk of diseases to your pet. Your dog needs regular exercising to tone muscles, improve heart health, and burn calories. Sunshine and fresh air are also healthy for your pet.
3) Too Much Vaccination
Dogs are highly susceptible to the pancreas immune-system attacks. This affects cells that produce insulin, which leads to the development of diabetes.
Once your dog has had of full-set puppy shot, their immunity to the vaccinated diseases is likely to last a lifetime. Check-in with your vet to run tests to see if re-vaccination is necessary.
Dogs at Increased Risk for Diabetes
Diabetes mostly affects older and middle-aged dogs. It is sporadic in puppies. Female dogs and neutered males are more likely to develop diabetes than intact males.
Research speculates that there might be a genetic component that leads to diabetes. Due to these, some breeds may be predisposed to diabetes. These breeds include:
- German shepherds
- Australian terriers
- Golden retrievers
- Fox terriers
- Bichon Frises
- Cocker Spaniels
- Labrador retrievers
Taking Care of Your Diabetic Dog
Even though diabetes is not entirely curable, proper diet, treatment, and exercise can manage it successfully. All you need to do is maintain your dog’s glucose levels in the acceptable range. This calls for lifestyle changes.
Diabetes can be controlled in two ways; modified feeding schedule and insulin shots. You can eliminate signs by managing diabetes properly.
Generally, diabetic dogs need two shots of insulin each day, administered one after every meal. Depending on your dog’s weight, you might require just one shot each day. Your vet will recommend a dose.
Insulin administration involves needles, and this can be hard for some owners. Your veterinarian will take you through the whole process, including monitoring glucose levels in the blood and the urine. The insulin dose might be adjusted based on the monitoring results and the signs.
There are numerous management techniques to make insulin therapy easier for both the dog and the owner. For instance, use a treat to distract your dog. It gets much easier over time. Patience and consistent monitoring is key to getting the correct dosage for your dog.
Your dog requires healthy weight maintenance. Control the portion sizes of his/her meals. Small meals, multiple times are highly recommended to avoid spiking the blood sugar levels of your dog.
Every dog is different. Your vet will recommend specific choices for your dog. A nutritious and tasty diet will help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
An intact female dog needs to be spayed following her diagnosis with diabetes. When female dogs go into heat, they release progesterone that interferes with the level of glucose in the blood and cannot be managed by insulin shots.
4) Glucose Monitoring
The level of glucose in the blood of a diabetic dog must be monitored to avoid hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia ( low blood sugar). It is achieved in two ways:
1. Urine Test
This test checks for ketones and glucose in the urine. It is easy to do at home, but it’s not very accurate.
2. Blood Test
It is very reliable. It can be done by the vet or even at home using blood test strips and a portable glucometer.
5) Regular Exercise
For pets with diabetes, exercise needs to be monitored. While it helps with health and happiness, It could affect the blood sugar levels of your dog. If your dog uses excessive energy, more glucose is used, leading to low levels of blood sugar.
Usually, the exercise amount for dogs remains unchanged. Obese dogs need a controlled routine. Confront your vet before you engage in exercise with a diabetic dog.
6) Regular Trips to the Veterinary
Keep up with your veterinarian visits. It is an important part of managing diabetes. In most cases, your vet can recommend 2-4 checkups each year.
Cost for Managing Diabetes in Dogs
Dog owners often worry about the cost of treating diabetes in their dogs after its diagnosis. The amount of money spent depends on various factors. Here’s a general breakdown of things to expect when treating diabetes.
1) Insulin Injections
Insulin is most likely the most expensive requirement for dog diabetes treatment. Many owners spend approximately $30- $150 on insulin each month. The amount you spend on insulin monthly depends on:
- Size of dog
- The severity of the disease
- Your source of insulin
Different vendors price insulin differently. In most cases, your local pharmacy is cheaper than your vet. Big box retailers and online counterparts, including Amazon, might have the best prices.
2) Lancets, Testing Strips and Glucose Monitor
Glucose monitors come in various brands at different prices. Cheap models go for about $20 while expensive models can be as high as $150.
Test strips and lancets are not very expensive. They are disposable supplies you use with the glucose monitor. There are monitoring kits that include the monitor, test strips, and lancets to make it easier for dog owners.
Syringes are needed for the injections. Buy them in bulk to save some bucks. You might spend $10-$20 on syringes each month.
4) Diabetic Dog Food
It might be necessary to get prescription dog food when your fur baby has diabetes. However, some dogs do not need the prescription diet, but you may have to shift to premium dog food that contains more fiber and protein and fewer carbohydrates.
Complications of Dog Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a life-threatening condition. If not managed properly, it can lead to serious health issues or death. Here are some possible effects of dog diabetes.
- Urinary Tract Infections – Due to the high levels of glucose in the urine of a diabetic dog, it might be difficult to empty the bladder. This makes UTIs very common among diabetic dogs.
- Cataracts – Over time, many dogs develop, which may lead to complete or partial blindness. The dog’s eyesight can be restored through surgery.
- Insulin Overdose – When you administer excess insulin to your pet, blood sugar levels can plummet, which can result in problems such as permanent brain damage and seizures.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – This happens when diabetes causes changes in blood circulation to the dog’s eye.
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis – In the late stages of diabetes, the dog’s body can start utilizing emergency energy stores. Ketoacidosis could lead to further complications, including heart failure and brain swelling.
Dog diabetes may also bring about complications, especially when it’s not handled well, including low levels of calcium in the blood, high blood pressure, and rear-leg weakness.
The Best Supplements for Your Diabetic Dog
Supplements provide essential nutrients to your dog. While some are beneficial to your diabetic dog, others should be given in small amounts be avoided altogether. Everything that can lower blood sugar levels can interfere with insulin needs.
L-Carnitine, an essential amino acid aids in the metabolism of fatty acids. It might improve the metabolism of fats, help in diabetes control, protect against muscle catabolism, and maintain a lean boy mass. Beef is an excellent source of L-Carnitine.
Zinc is essential for diabetic patients. However, too much of it is dangerous for dogs. Limit zinc supplementation to a standard amount.
Cranberry extract and Probiotics help prevent urinary tract infections.
Digestive enzymes can help dogs with pancreatitis. The prescription might be needed.
DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and control blood lipid levels. These fatty acids are present in fish, algae supplements, and fish oil.
Some products that impact the blood sugar level include marshmallow, licorice, ginger, and devil’s claw.
Best Food for Diabetic Dogs
Dr. Jeff Werber suggests that owners should pick a dog food that contains 20-25% carbohydrate based on dry matter.
Food that is rich in fiber is also recommended. It makes your dog feel full for extensive periods. This reduces the rate of glucose release in the bloodstream.
There are special diets for dogs with diabetes, but most of them manage well with typical high-quality food.
Factors to Consider When Buying Food for a Diabetic Dog
Avoid foods that list carbs as their first ingredient. Go for food with whole protein as the first ingredient. Deboned whole fish or chicken are excellent choices
Carbs should be down in the list with less than 25% total content. Pick foods that contain bran or brown rice instead of corn. Avoid foods with unidentified by-products and meat meals.
2) Dog needs
You need options that contain all nutrients to keep your dog healthy. Some brands contain just a mix of minerals and vitamins. Look out for antioxidants or even supplements when buying dog food.
3) Artificial Additives
Artificial colors and flavors might trigger allergies in your dog. Keep off from them if possible.
Go for wholesome foods. They are nutrient-rich, and they support your dog’s health.
4) Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is the rate at which food is processed into glucose. It is measured in numbers. A lower number means the food takes a bit longer to process.
Every ingredient has a glycemic index rating. Most brands indicate the overall rating of food. A low glycemic index is ideal for a diabetic dog.
5) Low Fat
Fat is necessary for dog food. Nonetheless, it can pose health risks to dogs with diabetes. Fats are high in calories, which can lead to weight gain.
Fat is also rich in glucose. Dog foods loaded with fats can cause dangerous effects.
5 Dog Foods for Treating Dog Diabetes Without Insulin
Here are the top five foods for diabetic dogs. Some require a prescription from a certified veterinarian.
It contains some high fruits, proteins, helpful supplements, and a variety of vegetables. Not perfect, but suitable for dogs with diabetes.
- Manufactured in the USA
- Contain various sources of protein
- Contain chondroitin and glucosamine that are good for bones.
- • Contain probiotic bacteria and minerals
- • Tasty
- Rich in supplements
- Made from sweet potatoes that reduce the glycemic index of food
It is scientifically formulated and has low carbohydrate content.
- Manufactured in the USA
- GMO-free chicken tops the ingredients list
- 46% protein
- Has no potatoes, corn, wheat or soy
- Very low in carbs
- It manages the level of blood sugar effectively
- No Probiotics
Designed by veterinarians, this brand helps in the maintenance of blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs. It also solves gastrointestinal problems.
- Variety of fiber sources
- Manufactured in the United States
- Low-fat content
- Does not contain whole protein
- Quite pricey
This protein-rich canned food helps pets regulate glucose levels in the blood. It has low amounts of carbs and a variety of yummy vegetables and fruits. Wellness CORE is also grain-free.
- No soy, wheat or con
- Mineral levels support metabolism
- 8% carbs and 50% protein
- American-based producer
- Natural grain-free
- Easy to digest
- High cost
This recipe is low in carbs and rich in protein. Sources of protein include Yorkshire pork, grass-fed lamb and Angus beef. Carbs include pinto beans and peas.
- 60% protein
- No gluten, potato, or grain
- American based manufacturer
- Made for all stages and all breeds
- High-quality food
- No potatoes grains or tapioca
- Promotes gastrointestinal health
- Short shelf life
- Poor packaging
Can a Diabetic Dog take a Homemade Diet?
There is an increased rate of pet owners experimenting with homemade diets on their pets. Balancing nutritional content in your dog food can be difficult, and only a few dog owners manage to make nutritious, high-quality recipes.
Nutritional imbalances often lead to long term health problems and deficiencies. The effects are even more harmful to diabetic dogs.
For instance, improper fiber and carbohydrate amounts will fluctuate the blood sugar levels of your dog, which is a threat to the dog’s health.
Tips to Look after a Diabetic Dog
To make it easier to protect your dog from diabetes signs and symptoms, follow the following tips
1) Establish a feeding routine for your dog
Other than feeding nutritious food to your dog, set a consistent feeding schedule. This helps to keep her/his glucose levels in check.
Most diabetic dogs feed twice each day. Feed your dog before insulin administration. It is essential to discuss the best feeding routine for your fur baby with the vet.
2) Avoid Switching Food Unnecessarily
Making changes to a diabetic dog’s diet can lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels, which are hazardous to their overall well-being. Consult with your vet if you need to make changes in your dog’s diet.
3) Give Healthy Treats
Don’t sabotage diabetes management with sugary or high-calorie treats. Pick protein-based treats instead. There are special treats for diabetic pets that help to maintain glucose levels in the blood.
Dried poultry and meat manufactured in the United States make great treats. Other safe treats for diabetic dogs include canned, frozen, cooked or raw green beans, water-packed tuna or sardines, hard-boiled eggs, chicken feet, and freeze-dried liver.
There is also a separate article on choosing healthy treats for your dogs. Do read it if you want to dive deep into choosing healthy treats for your four-legged family member.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is diabetes, and what’s its cause?
Diabetes mellitus is an abnormal insulin response resulting in increased blood sugar levels. It is caused by pancreas disorders.
2) What signs does a diabetic dog showcase?
Weight loss; increased appetite; increased urination; less activity and increased thirst.
3) My dog can’t hold his urine; is he diabetic?
Let your vet check the level of blood glucose and test for ketones and glucose in the urine of your dog to verify.
4) Can all dogs develop diabetes?
Yes. However, diabetes is more common in older dogs. Genetics, obesity, and other factors may contribute to susceptibility to diabetes.
5) What is the lifespan of a diabetic dog?
With the proper care and management, a diabetic dog will live for as long as a non-diabetic dog.
6) What is the diagnosis of diabetes?
Your veterinarian will test for ketones and glucose in your pet’s urine and glucose level in the blood. High levels of glucose in the blood along with positive glucose results in the urine mean your dog is diabetic.
At first, protecting your dog from diabetes signs and symptoms may seem overwhelming. However, it becomes a routine after some time. The extra attention and care will strengthen the bond between you and your fur baby.
Diabetes can be managed well with minimal disruption of your lives. Modern medicine makes it worthwhile and doable. Your dog can live a healthy, long life with diabetes.