Diabetes in dogs or canine diabetes is a hormonal imbalance disease caused by a lack of insulin in the dog’s body or an insufficient biological response of the body to it. To explain it further, when your dog eats, its body breaks down the food into simpler components. One of those simple components is glucose, and it is carried to the cells by insulin. Diabetes is when your dog can’t produce enough insulin by themselves, or the insulin produced is not used properly by the body. Moreover, glucose is not used inadequately either. As a result, your dog’s blood sugar levels will rise and cause adverse side effects.
Causes of diabetes in dogs
Human diabetes and canine diabetes are similar in this scenario as the experts are not completely certain why dogs develop diabetes. It comes down to genetics, some dogs are more genetically susceptible to developing this condition. However, factually, being overweight can put any dog at the risk of developing diabetes. The reason being that obesity causes cells in the body to become more resistant to insulin. A dog is more likely to develop diabetes when it starts to reach its senior years. Female dogs and neutered dogs have more chances of falling prey to this disease.
What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?
Many signs can indicate diabetes in dogs. If you notice any of the following behavior in your dog consult your vet, as they can give you a proper diagnosis of the condition:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Change in Appetite
- Kind of sweetness in breath
- Lack of energy
- Eyesight changes
If your vet suspects the possibility of diabetes, they will probably conduct some blood tests to help their diagnosis. If your dog tests positive for diabetes, the vet will guide you to the best course of action, that includes medication and lifestyle changes
Diet of a diabetic dog
Now that your dog has diabetes, what you can do to be a good companion to your canine friend is take good care of it. Like humans, lifestyle changes work wonders in diabetes and one of those is staying trim. If you haven’t yet, it is time to focus on your dog’s weight and diet. For overweight dogs, losing some weight will make cells better use insulin and regulate sugar levels. That way, the body will turn food into fuel more efficiently. The goal for any canine with diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels or glucose levels in check and bring them as close to normal values as possible. Doing so will minimize the diabetes-related complications like vision-clouding cataracts and urinary tract infections and help your dog lead a happy life.
Food as Fuel
Since the goal is losing weight or maintain a healthy weight, let the veterinarian determine the apt daily calorie count for your dog, depending upon its weight and activity level. Once you how much calorie your dog needs and how much have to cut down, the next step is to closely monitor what it eats and how much. The best diet for diabetic dogs is still under research but most vets prefer a high-fiber and low-fat diet. Fiber helps your dog feel full and slows the entrance of glucose into the bloodstream. It also increases metabolism. Low-fat foods are also low in calories so that is a preference. Incorporating them together will help the dog eat less, feel full, and lose weight. Drinking plenty of water is a necessity when consuming a high fiber diet because fiber takes a lot of water from the body. Less water consumption can cause constipation and other problems.
The vet will guide you about the type of food your dog should consume. Some dogs do fine with the store-bought food. For others, the vet may recommend a homemade diet or prescription dog food developed by a veterinary nutritionist. The vet will advise you on the best nutritional practices. Remember, when changing the diet, do so gradually because a rapid change in diet can cause digestion problems.
The diet change may upset your dog because they do not like change. To have your dog eat regularly, you may need to entice it a little bit. If your vet approves, here are some ways in which you can entice your pup to eat.
- Stir a tablespoon of the new food into their regular food to make the diet change easy.
- Scatter some shredded chicken or scrambled eggs into kibble and let the aroma attract your pup.
- You can a tablespoon of low-sodium chicken broth to the dry food but the broths should not have onions in them as they are toxic for dogs.
Giving treats between meals is fine but necessary, so if your dog can go without it, that will be the best. Homemade dehydrated meats, peas, carrots, and canned pumpkin are some good options for diabetic dogs.
Time of feeding
Balancing insulin with food is nothing less than a relay race. The body is constantly at work to process food and insulin between meals and insulin injections. A regular schedule of 2-3 meals a day is the best for most dogs, and injections follow a general rule of every 12 hours. Consult your vet about maintaining the right meal schedule for your dog.
Regular exercise is mandatory for diabetic dogs and essential for losing weight. The duration and intensity of the workout should be regulated every day. A long or vigorous workout out of the blue can cause blood sugar levels to drop low suddenly. Caring for a dog with diabetes can be a lot of work and somewhat difficult at first. But you and your dog will adapt to the changes, and the extra care and attention you give your dog during this time may even strengthen your bond. After all, they are worth everything.