Does my dog have diabetes?

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The symptoms of diabetes can be worrying, but knowledge is power. If your dog does get diagnosed with the condition, you can make changes to their routine to keep them healthy – especially if you catch the illness early. Here’s Head Vet Sean with everything you need to know if you suspect your dog is diabetic.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that stops the body making or responding to insulin, the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. This can cause diabetic people and dogs to experience dangerous swings in blood sugar.

Is diabetes common in dogs?

Diabetes is less common in dogs than it is in humans. Around 1 in every 200 dogs will develop it at some stage in their life.

What are the signs of diabetes in dogs?

Symptoms of canine diabetes include:

  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Urinating more (including accidents)
  • Depression and lethargy
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cataracts
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Frequent skin infections

All the symptoms of diabetes in dogs can also be signs of other problems – your suddenly-thirsty dog isn’t necessarily diabetic. However, it’s best to be sure, so if your dog shows signs of the disease, it’s best to take them to the vet to get checked out.

What causes diabetes in dogs?

In humans, diabetes is often linked to obesity – this is known as Type-2 diabetes. In dogs, this is rarely the case – for our pooches, the cause is usually genetic. Similar to Type-1 diabetes in humans. This means some dogs are more prone to developing it than others. Factors that can affect how likely your dog is to suffer from diabetes include:

1. Breed

Some breeds are more genetically prone to developing diabetes. These include:

  • Samoyed
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Dachshund
  • Poodle
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Border Terrier
  • Schnauzer
  • Bichon Frise
  • Border Collie
  • English Setter

2. Age

Diabetes usually affects middle-aged and older dogs. But because diabetes in dogs is usually genetic, rather than lifestyle-related, it can sometimes occur in young dogs too.

3. Other health conditions

If your dog has pancreatitis, certain viral infections or Cushing’s disease, they’re more susceptible to developing diabetes.

4. Veterinary treatments

Certain medications can cause diabetes as a rare side effect. If in doubt, speak with your vet.

What should I do if I think my dog has diabetes?

If you notice any warning signs, it’s important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Left unchecked, diabetes can cause complications. The sooner it’s diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Your dog should recover quickly once their blood sugar levels are back in the healthy range.

What are the tests for diabetes in dogs?

Blood and urine tests are the only way to definitively diagnose canine diabetes. These tests are straightforward, and can be done at your local vet practice.

How to treat diabetes in dogs

Treatment for diabetes in dogs involves a balance of diet, exercise and insulin injections. All three play an important part in keeping your dog’s blood sugar levels stable.

1. Insulin

Most dogs with diabetes need an insulin injection after each meal. This can sound scary at first, but your vet practice will show you how to do it, and how to check you’re giving the right dose. The needles you’ll use are small, and won’t hurt your dog. Most owners find that it quickly becomes a normal part of their daily routine.

2. Diet

Once your dog has been diagnosed, your vet will give you advice on any changes you need to make to your diabetic dog’s diet. Ingredients promoting stable blood sugar levels, such as bioflavonoids from sweet potato can be beneficial. Diets that provide slow release energy sources are also advised.

We’re here to support you and can help you develop a feeding plan that’s suitable for your dog. Once you’ve set up your tails.com account, get in touch with our veterinary and nutritionist team at hello@tails.com – they’ll be happy to discuss your dog’s individual needs.

3. Exercise

Exercise can lower your dog’s blood sugar, so it’s important to balance their activity level with their diet and insulin dose.

How can I prevent my dog from getting diabetes?

Regular health checks – your vet can help identify any minor changes that might be early signs of diabetes.

A healthy, balanced diet –  excessive weight gain and high-fat diets have been shown to be indirect causes of diabetes in dogs, if they are already a breed that is prone to the condition for example.

2 comments

  1. Mist, my 9 year old diabetic collie was very overweight despite being on senior/light food and I was struggling with her blood sugar. After a helpful discussion with Penny from the team, Mist has been on her tails food for 4 months now and has lost just over 1.5kg just by changing her food. She is a different dog! she feels and looks so much better, she runs and plays with the other dogs and is less grumpy. Her blood sugars are a lot more stable too which is the most important. Thank you Tails x

    1. Hi Lindsay,

      Great to hear from you. We’re so happy to hear your Collie is feeling better and has better energy levels.

      Best
      Ellie

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