Type 2 diabetes can occur when cells in the body don't respond in the expected way when insulin is produced. Insulin resistance develops over time and prevents muscles and organs from using glucose to generate energy, leaving too much glucose in the blood.
When your dog isn't processing insulin efficiently they become insulin deficient and their body struggles to use food for growth and general health. As a result, they will feel hungry much of the time and start passing urine with high concentrations of glucose. Their kidneys, pancreas and liver can be damaged as a result of not processing insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas, in the correct way. Here's what you need to know about type 2 diabetes and your dog:
There are several possible causes of type 2 diabetes in dogs including:
- Being overweight
- Genetic predisposition of certain breeds such as poodles, beagles and dachshunds
- Certain medications can interfere with insulin production
Early symptoms of type 2 diabetes include weight loss despite continuing to eat a normal diet, increased thirst and urination, and lethargy. If not detected early, diabetes can induce other potentially more serious symptoms such as vomiting, bladder infection, an enlarged liver, depression, and loss of appetite.
Blood tests, a urinalysis and possibly an ultrasound will be used to diagnose diabetes in your dog. A complete blood count will show a high concentration of glucose in the blood, while a urinalysis will show high levels of glucose in the urine and can detect if your dog is dehydrated as a result of frequent urination.
An ultrasound may be carried out if the vet suspects your dog may have kidney stones or an inflamed pancreas as a result of diabetes and dehydration.
Your vet will formulate a treatment plan based on your dog's test results, their breed, age, and overall health. They will show you how to administer insulin injections to your dog and keep track of their daily glucose test results, which you can check at home with a simple pin-prick test.
If your dog is dehydrated, your vet will give them some intravenous fluids to rebalance their electrolyte levels. Additionally, if they have a bladder infection they will be given antibiotics.
Your vet will also give you advice on your dog's diet and suggest an exercise plan. A healthy weight and diet will make your dog's diabetes easier to control, but changes should be made gradually to prevent a sudden spike or fall in glucose levels.
If your dog is overweight, you will be given a detailed diet plan to bring them back to their normal weight range over a few months. If your dog is underweight as a result of their diabetes, your vet will advise you on how to safely increase their weight without impacting on the management of their diabetes.
Food that's moist or soft tends to be broken down quickly during digestion, which can cause a spike in glucose levels so your vet may advise you to change the type of food you give to your dog. However, you should not switch brands without checking that your selected food is suitable.
Once your dog has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes there's no reason they can't live a full and active life as long as you adhere to the vet's recommendations. If you are struggling to manage any part of your dog's healthcare, get some advice from your vet. They can give you tips on getting your dog interested in a new food or exercise, and they will be happy to go over the process of injecting your dog with insulin as many times as you need them to.
For more information, check out clinics such as Warnbro Veterinary Hospital.