Diabetes in Our Canine Companions

posted: by: Emily Plodzik, DVM Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

So we know from the post about our cat companions and diabetes that cats and dogs can both develop diabetes, but they develop a different type of diabetes mellitus.  Cats typically develop type 2 diabetes that can be reversible while our canine companions typically will have type 1 diabetes.  This type 1 diabetes is also known as insulin dependent diabetes due to a permanent insulin insufficiency.  This happens because the immune system for some reason destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for secreting insulin. 

Unfortunately for our canine companions with type 1 diabetes, this means that there will always be a need for insulin supplementation in order to control diabetic symptoms from developing in our canine companions.  There are many different insulin types to consider and your veterinarian will help guide which insulin type is best for your furry companion.

Symptoms of diabetes in our canine companions remain similar to those of our feline friends as well.  We see them develop an increase in thirst, urination and appetite while at the same time showing signs of weight loss, decreased energy levels and a dry dull hair coat that appears ungroomed.  Sometimes we also see abdominal pain, dehydration and even abdominal distention with diabetes as well. Cataracts may also develop secondary to diabetes in our canine companions and seem to develop suddenly. 

Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is by bloodwork (showing signs of elevated glucose levels) and a urine sample.  Glucose in the urine develops once blood glucose levels exceed the kidney’s threshold and protein can also be seen in the urine as well.  A recommendation for urine culture and sensitivity will likely be made once diabetes is confirmed in our canine companions as we know that diabetic dogs are likely to have a urinary tract infection that may not show on a normal urinalysis.

Chronic pancreatitis in dogs can lead to diabetes in dogs due to an accumulation of damage to insulin secreting beta cells and alpha cells.  It is estimated that around a quarter of canine cases of diabetes may be due to chronic pancreatitis.  We also know that lipemia (having high fat diets) and obesity can trigger pancreatitis and thus promote the development of diabetes mellitus.  Genetics may also play a role in canine diabetes.  Some of the breeds commonly known to develop diabetes include Poodles, Keeshonds, Alaskan Malamutes, Finnish Spitz, Miniature Schnauzers, Samoyeds, Cairn Terrier, bichon frises, Tibetan terriers, pugs, Yorkshire terriers, Labrador retrievers, and Australian terriers.  Exposure to increased level of progesterone during pregnancy and exposure to high levels of growth hormone and cortisol can also lead to diabetes in dogs as well.  

Monitoring of our diabetic canine companions is essential and recommend at least every 3 months once a dose of insulin is found to help control signs of diabetes and rechecking bloodwork, urinalysis and urine culture and sensitivity are recommended about every 6 months as well. 

Prognosis for our diabetic canine companions is typically good with proper monitoring and insulin administration.  Due to the necessary financial commitment with chronic insulin administration along with the serial monitoring, it is essential to be in close communication with your veterinarian.  Here at Shaver Road Animal we can help create a treatment plan tailored to help give your canine companion access to a good quality of life while maintaining that human-animal bond that we all aim to protect.