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Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Overview of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in Dogs

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as “diabetes” and commonly abbreviated as “DM”, is a chronic condition in which a deficiency of the hormone insulin impairs the body’s ability to metabolize sugar. It is one of the most common endocrine (hormonal) diseases of dogs.

There are two types of diabetes mellitus in dogs. Type I DM occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. This can be the result of destruction of the cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin. This form does not produce enough insulin and requires insulin injections to control the disease. Type II DM occurs when enough insulin is produced but something interferes with its ability to be utilized by the body. Dogs nearly always (99%) have the type I variety.

Diabetes mellitus usually affects middle-aged to older dogs of either sex, however it is most common in female dogs (twice as common in females as in males). The peak age seen in dogs is 7 to 9 years. Juvenile-onset diabetes may occur in dogs less than 1 year of age. . Any breed can be affected. Breeds at increased risk for diabetes mellitus include the Australian terrier, Samoyed, Schnauzer (miniature and standard), Bichon frise, Cairn terrier, Keeshond, Spitz, Fox terrier and the Poodle (miniature and standard).

Diabetes mellitus leads to an inability of the tissue to utilize glucose. Disease occurs from high blood sugar levels, inadequate delivery of sugar to the tissues and changes in the body metabolism.

Risk factors for diabetes mellitus include obesity, recurring pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, and drugs such as glucocorticoids and progestagens that antagonize insulin.

What to Watch For

Common symptoms of diabetes in dogs include:

Diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Veterinary care for your dog should include diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of the elevated blood sugar and help guide subsequent treatment recommendations. Some of these tests include:

Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Home Care and Prevention

At home care involves administering prescribed medications, including insulin, as recommended. Try to give insulin twice a day, 12 hours apart and at the same time each day. You should also work with your veterinarian to develop a weight management and feeding plan. Stick to regular feeding times.

Observe your dog’s thirst and frequency of urination. If these remain increased, your veterinarian may need to adjust the insulin dosage.

Insulin overdose may cause low blood glucose, potentially resulting in disorientation, weakness or seizures (convulsions). If you notice any of these symptoms in an otherwise responsive dog, offer food immediately. If the dog is unconscious, Karo® syrup can be applied to the gums. In either case, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Familiarize yourself with insulin, insulin syringes, insulin storage, and insulin handling; your veterinarian or pharmacist can help.

While there is no way known to prevent type I DM, proper weight management can reduce the likelihood of your dog developing type II DM.

Information In-Depth on Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs

Important symptoms of DM include increased thirst (polydipsia) and increased urination (polyuria). These are often the most prominent symptoms of diabetes mellitus, also known as sugar diabetes. Frequently there is weight loss despite a good appetite. Several other diseases can also cause increased thirst and urination. These diseases include:

Diagnosis In-Depth of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in Dogs

Treat​ment In-Depth of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in Dogs

Treatment for diabetes may include one or more of the following:

DM requires dedicated follow-up care on the part of the pet owner. With a commitment of time, education and careful observation, most diabetic dogs can have a good, quality life.

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Diabetes

Prognosis for Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus

The prognosis depends upon the overall heath of the pet, other diseases present, secondary complications from diabetes, and the pet owner’s ability to treat and closely monitor their pet’s progress. Many pets live a happy health live for years with diabetes with few complications. A mean survival time of pets with diabetes is 3 years from time of diagnosis. For pets that do well after 6 months of treatment, many will have a good quality of life for more than 5 years.