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Diabetes in Dogs: How to Test for Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes in Dogs

We always want to make sure our pets have the best quality of life possible. However, just as with ourselves, we may not be entirely sure about the way our food habits and genetic predisposition may place our dogs’ health in danger. According to the 2020 Pet Health Report from the Banfield Pet Hospital, an estimated 51% out of the 1.9 million dogs seen in their facilities were diagnosed as overweight. Let’s take a closer look at diabetes in dogs and what we can do to help our pets.

Can Dogs Suffer From Diabetes?

Unfortunately, yes. Diabetes is a very straightforward problem. In the case of any organism that relies on hormones and other chemical substances to regulate its functions and state, you can also suffer from imbalances. In dogs, diabetes can look like this:

  • Insulin-deficiency. The dog’s body is not producing sufficient insulin to regulate glucose levels in the bloodstream. This happens when the pancreas -the organ in charge of insulin production- has suffered some damage or is otherwise unable to produce the required chemicals. 
  • Insulin-resistance. In this scenario, the pancreas might produce the required insulin, but the body is not using it as it should. In these cases, the dog’s cells won’t recognize the chemicals and process or metabolize the glucose as required. Obese dogs and female dogs in heat are prone to this type of canine diabetes.

As your dog’s system is unable to regulate sugar levels, the cells that require the energy source won’t be able to access it, starving for fuel and making the body break down reserve fats or lipids and proteins to use as an energy source.

Simultaneously, high sugar levels will damage organs. This high concentration of sugar in the dog’s bloodstream leaves organs exposed to an imbalanced medium and could cause multi-organ damage due to a type of poisoning that often includes kidneys, eyes, heart, and nervous system.

How Can I Tell if My Dog Is Diabetic?

Let’s take a closer look at the signs of diabetes in dogs. 

Here at the Central Orange County Emergency Animal Hospital, we wish to help pet parents avoid these health complications, and we wish to remind you that the sooner you discover signs that something’s wrong, the better the outlook is. 

Pay close attention to some of the following early warnings and general symptoms of diabetes in dogs.

  • Excessive thirst,
  • Increased urination,
  • Unexplainable weight loss,
  • Increased appetite.

As with many other conditions, it’s hard to explain these minor behavioral changes as the beginning of a chronic disease, which is why you should request regular screenings and come to a qualified veterinarian to perform additional diagnostic tests that show how well your dog really is.

Please watch out for any such changes where you notice your dog is definitely asking for water more often or having minor urination accidents in the house. As your dog’s body tries to get rid of the excess sugar, it will try to do so through urine. Likewise, even if your dog continues to eat normal portions, their body may not be able to convert food into nutrients and lose weight as a result, leading to an increased appetite as well.

Additional complications to your dog’s health once diabetes has set in may include:

  • Cataracts,
  • Liver complications,
  • Urinary Tract Infections,
  • Vomiting,
  • Seizures,
  • Kidney failure.

How Does a Newport Beach Vet Diagnose Diabetes in Dogs?

When you come to the best pet hospital Newport Beach has, you will find a team ready to check the status of your dog’s health. Blood tests are one of the most reliable methods to determine whether or not your pet suffers from diabetes because high glucose levels in the dog’s bloodstream will be pretty telling.

Similarly, a urinalysis can also reveal high levels of sugar or imbalances that point to a type of diabetes. Please keep in mind that diabetes doesn’t have to be mortal, and the sooner we determine what’s happening with your loved dog, the better their chances are of living a normal life.

What Are The Types of Canine Diabetes

Diabetes is an all-encompassing term for blood levels of sugar in a dog’s system, but there are specific scientific terms that describe distinct conditions that require their own considerations and treatments. Let’s take a look at the types of diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is the medical term for the most common type of diabetes suffered by dogs. This is the disease we’ve been describing so far. This condition also receives the name sugar diabetes and describes the inability of your dog’s pancreas to regulate blood sugar.

As discussed before, the resulting deficiencies in proper nutrition and energy metabolization in your dog’s system will result in clinical signs that display loss of weight, increased urination, fatigue, and increased thirst.

Type I DM may require your dog to receive insulin shots when their pancreas’s beta cells are almost completely destroyed. Keep in mind that these specialized cells are the ones producing insulin, and if they’re not around, you’ll have to supply the insulin for your dog’s system.

Type II DM, also called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, some beta cells remain but the production of insulin is still insufficient. Another problem is that there may be a delay in the secretion of insulin or that your dog’s tissues are not accepting the insulin. This type of diabetes is more common in older and obese dogs and won’t necessarily require constant injections of insulin; rather, some oral drugs can stimulate the existing beta cells to produce the required insulin. Still, make sure you visit a vet to determine what your dog needs.

Type III diabetes is the result of hormones that create insulin resistance caused during pregnancy or in the presence of hormone-secreting tumors.

Diabetes Insipidus

Unlike the previous and more common type of diabetes, Diabetes Insipidus (DI) has a stronger effect on the dilution of your dog’s urine. DI is rare in dogs and you can easily notice it in your pet’s case due to excessive thirst and drinking as they continue to produce abnormal levels of urine.

Sometimes, your dog may become incontinent and you will notice more accidents with urination. Even if your dog drinks more and more water, it may still become dehydrated due to the high levels of urination.

Instead of a direct problem with your dog’s pancreas, we have to focus on their kidneys and pituitary gland.

When there are insufficient levels of a hormone called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), your dog’s kidneys won’t know to reabsorb the water passing through them. Whether the problem is with hormone production or the pet’s kidneys not responding to the hormone, they will require adequate veterinary care to control the problem. 

The most prominent aspect of DI has increased urination, but there are many other veterinary health complications related to this symptom, so your pet’s vet will have to discard other potential explanations for your pet’s clinical signs.

We will require a complete blood count, blood chemistry panels that check for sugar levels and hormone production, and a urinalysis. Depending on your pet’s case, such tests may already indicate everything that the vet team requires, or we may need advanced imaging to discard tumors in hormone-producing organs and glands.

Get Help with a Newport Beach Vet

The team at COCEAH is thrilled to help our friends and their pets get all the help they need during those moments of veterinary emergencies. Check out our resources and make sure you have our address on your quick access list to get the help your pet needs.

We’re open through the night and during all US holidays. Just give us a phone call and let us know you’re coming.

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Young Joo Kim, DVM, MS

Young Joo Kim, DVM, MS

Dr. Kim received his DVM degree from Seoul National University, College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the most prestigious schools in South Korea. He also earned a M.S. degree from the same school in Veterinary Anatomy and Histology.

Biography >>
Young Joo Kim, DVM, MS

Young Joo Kim, DVM, MS

Dr. Kim received his DVM degree from Seoul National University, College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the most prestigious schools in South Korea. He also earned a M.S. degree from the same school in Veterinary Anatomy and Histology.

Biography >>