What is Diabetes Mellitus?
In its simplest form, diabetes mellitus is a disorder caused by an insufficiency or absence of insulin. The lack or absence of insulin leads to difficulty in the body utilizing carbohydrates, fats and protein. There are two types of diabetes mellitus, Type I DM requires insulin supplementation or the disease progresses significantly and can be fatal. Type II DM may be maintained without insulin supplementation and although dangerous is not as threatening as Type I.
How does my dog get Diabetes Mellitus?
There are some breeds that have a predisposition to DM, they are listed below. The basic cause is an immune mediated destruction of the cells (Beta cells) that produce insulin in the pancreas. An inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) can cause serious injury to the pancreas and Beta Cell destruction. There are some other diseases (Cushing’s, for example) and drugs (corticosteroids) that may also contribute to the development of DM.
How do I know if my dog has Diabetes Mellitus?
Dogs are usually middle age and female. The classical diabetic drinks a lot of water, urinates a lot, eats well and loses weight. However, as the disease progresses, the signs become more significant including: loss of appetite, loss of energy, depression, and vomiting. Another possible presentation for a diabetic is an obese pet with a very rapid and very recent significant weight loss. In later stages, cataracts are a very common in dogs. By running a series of blood and urine tests, your veterinarian will be able to tell you if your dog has DM and its severity.
What can I do about Diabetes Mellitus?
DM should be considered a medical emergency. If you have a middle age female dog with the above noted signs, a veterinary visit should be scheduled as soon as possible. The results of the above mentioned tests will determine the treatment protocol. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease that requires changes in diet, exercise, treats, and careful monitoring. Insulin is usually provided to the dog by an injection given once or twice per day. A special diet will be suggested to make it easier on the body to balance all the changes going on. Additionally, it will be necessary to monitor your pet’s exercise levels to minimize dramatic changes in blood glucose levels. To monitor the effectiveness of the insulin, exercise and diet, your veterinarian will perform some specific tests that might include a glucose curve, urine glucose levels, fructosamine level, or other tests. It is important to monitor how your pet is doing at home on a daily basis since diabetics can have large variations in their day to day lives. Needed follow up appointments must be kept up to avoid possible emergencies or life threatening conditions. One of the side effects of too much insulin is too low a blood sugar. Too low a blood sugar may present itself as staggering, seizures, passing out, and even death. Having sugar water or Karo Syrup around is helpful in those low blood sugar emergencies. In many cases of diabetes, blindness as a result of cataract development may occur. Intact females should be spayed as soon as medically possible to make it easier to adjust the insulin levels.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Diabetes Mellitus?
By keeping your pet thin, you are decreasing the likelihood of developing diabetes. Other than avoiding obesity, steroids and progesterone products, there is little that can be done to avoid getting DM.
Are there certain breeds that get Diabetes Mellitus more often?
There is a known breed predisposition for Keeshonds, Pulis, Miniature Pinscher, and Cairn Terrier. Other breeds to monitor include: Poodles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzer, and Beagles.