Darlene Norris is a long-time pet lover. She has worked as a vet assistant and draws on this experience when she writes her articles.
Canine Diabetes Is Becoming An Epidemic
More and more dogs are showing up with diabetes. The symptoms of diabetes in dogs can be easy to overlook, if you aren't aware of them. This disease can cause sudden blindness, urinary tract infections, inappropriate urination, kidney damage, skin problems, coma, and even death. Ignorance about diabetes in canines is not bliss. Anyone with a dog in their life needs to be familiar with these symptoms.
Sudden Blindness Is Often the First Symptom of Canine Diabetes
1. Dog Goes Blind Suddenly
Too many times, the first symptom of canine diabetes is sudden blindness, often catching many pet owners off guard. How does this happen? Normally, the lens in your dog's eye is clear and transparent. It's usually in a dehydrated state, compared to the rest of the body.
A dog with diabetes has high glucose levels in every organ of her body, including the fluid in her eyes. Since the lens gets all its nutrients from the eyeball fluid, the excess sugar finds its way into the lens, too, which then absorbs more water in an effort to dilute the sugar. The excess water in the lens causes it to become cloudy, resulting in cataracts and blindness. This process can happen in as little time as a few weeks, often before the owner is aware there's any problem.
2. A Very Thirsty Dog
If your canine companion suddenly can't seem to get enough water, this should be a red flag for you. High blood glucose levels will cause your pet to be very thirsty, as her body attempts to flush the extra sugar out of her system.
Normally your pet's kidneys pull glucose and water out of the urine and back into the body. When the blood sugar levels are too high, water is not being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. Instead, it's being pulled out of your dog's bloodstream, resulting in dehydration. And dehydration causes a whole host of other problems, including even higher levels of glucose in the blood. It's a vicious cycle that often leads to diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that can cause organ failure, diabetic coma, and even death.
So keep an eye on your pet's water consumption. It's vitally important to have your dog's vet check her out if she just keeps glugging down the water.
3. Frequent Urination
Even if you managed to miss the amount of water your canine companion is drinking, it's hard to miss her asking to go out more often. A dog with high levels of glucose in her urine often produces more urine, which is her body's way of trying to get rid of the excess sugar. And of course, a dog that's urinating more often drinks more water.
If a previously house-trained dog starts having accidents in the house (inappropriate urination), a trip to the vet is in order to be sure canine diabetes isn't causing the problem.
4. Eating Ravenously, But Still Losing Weight
It seems counterintuitive that a dog can eat like it's going out of style, and still lose weight. While this might seem like a good thing, it's not. When your dog eats carbohydrates, the digestive process breaks the carbs down into sugars. A diabetic dog isn't able to use these sugars, so her body goes into "starvation mode" and starts breaking down stored fat instead. The result is that ketones, products of fat metabolism, build up in her bloodstream, leading to ketoacidosis.
Another symptom of diabetic ketoacidosis in dogs is sweetish-smelling breath. A healthy dog's breath should smell like, well, like dog breath. If her breath smells like acetone (or like nail polish remover), this is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.
Lethargic Dog With No Energy
5. No Pep
Your pet seems to have lost interest in life. All she wants to do is lay around. When you do manage to get her up, she may be weak and unsteady on her feet. You might think that she's just getting older, but this could also be a symptom of diabetes in dogs.
If she's shivering or shaking, she could have hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. This condition can also cause her to become uncoordinated and weak. Take her to the vet right away, as this is a life-threatening condition.
6. Lowered Immunity
Dogs with diabetes often have very little resistance to infections. Your canine friend may have one urinary tract infection after another. Fungal infections, prostrate infections, pneumonia, and skin conditions are commonly seen in dogs with high blood sugar.
It's a vicious cycle: high blood glucose levels provide plenty of food for bacteria. Then higher levels of bacteria cause higher blood sugar levels. If your pet is struggling with any kind of recurring infections, it's a good idea to have her tested for diabetes.
7. Diabetic Neuropathy in Dogs
Weakness in the legs is more commonly seen in cats, but it can happen in dogs, too. High blood glucose levels damage the sheaths on the nerves in a dog's back legs. This can cause her feet to suddenly go out from under her as she walks. She may have trouble getting back on her feet after sitting or lying down. Or she may start lying down after short walks.
This condition can get worse, if the diabetes is left untreated. But it usually goes away once you get your dog's blood glucose levels under control. If you notice your pet having trouble getting around, it may not be due to old age. Your vet should test her to be sure it's not caused by uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
How To Tell If a Dog Has Diabetes
Canine Diabetes Is A Silent Killer
Sometimes dogs with diabetes show no symptoms at all. This may happen if the disease is progressing so slowly that symptoms aren't really noticed.
Is it possible to prevent diabetes in dogs? Yes, it is. The best way to reduce the risk to your pet is to keep her weight under control. Feeding her a high-quality canned food that's high in fiber and low in carbohydrates is recommended.
Regular exercise is essential to keep your dog healthy. Exercise also regulates blood glucose levels naturally. Spaying her can help, as high estrogen levels can interfere with insulin production.
Being aware of these seven symptoms of diabetes in dogs can prevent long-term side effects, should your pet ever develop this condition.
Amanda on May 17, 2019:
My puppies breath smells sweet and like acetone
Jackson on January 13, 2019:
My dog was diagnosed 2 yrs ago. I have noticed a smell as well sulfur he's on levimir.
beverly santarelli on November 10, 2018:
my vet just changed my dogs insulin. the one he was on was not working, started his new insulin today but his breath smells like nail polish remover why?
Brandy Banks on July 23, 2016:
I have no money for a vet, my puppy just turned 6weeks old and all the sudden it smells like she ate nail polish remover please help
Davidurface on May 31, 2010:
Wow thank you very much for this my puppy has all the symptoms and I thought it very odd her breath smelled like acitone I'm calling an after hours vet now!
chicamom85 on May 17, 2009:
Good article, good info. Thanks
Higher Risk Factors for Developing Diabetes Mellitus
Just as in their human companions, the number of cases of canine diabetes is on the rise. It is estimated that approximately one out of every 400 to 500 dogs has diabetes. The increase in the number of canines being diagnosed with this illness may be due to better screening for the disease or the larger number of obese canines.
Although all breeds of dogs can get diabetes, the following breeds are more predisposed to the illness.
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Miniature Pinchers
- Cairn Terriers
- Cocker Spaniels
- Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for canine diabetes.
- Females are two to three times more likely to develop the disease.
- Diabetes generally affects middle aged and older dogs and is most common in those aged seven to nine.
Diabetes typically appears in dogs seven to nine years old. It can take a year or longer for a dog with diabetes to show any symptoms, and even early warning signs are easy to miss. Some of the early warning signs of diabetes in dogs include:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss despite eating normally
Signs of advanced diabetes include:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Thinning, dry, or dull hair (especially along the back)
- Cloudy eyes (cataracts)
If left untreated, diabetes can cause severe damage to a dog’s body. Here are some of the major health threats if diabetes isn’t controlled.
- Blindness, resulting from advanced cataracts
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney failure
- Enlarged liver
*Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening acute condition triggered by stress, fasting, infections, surgery, and low insulin levels. Symptoms include rapid breathing, lethargy, vomiting, dehydration, and sweet-smelling breath. If your dog has diabetes, you should always have ketone testing sticks on hand and test your dog’s urine if he shows any of these signs. If his urine tests positive for ketones, you should call an emergency vet immediately.
Types Of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes – and we’re starting with the last one first.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is usually due to obesity and eating too many carbohydrates. In type 2 diabetes, there is plenty of insulin production, but the body becomes resistant to it because there is too much sugar coming in. This type of diabetes is reversible in some cases.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common in people (90% of human diabetics have Type 2) – and it’s also the type of diabetes that cats get.
But dogs are different. Most diabetic dogs have Type 1 diabetes. And it’s a lot more serious.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas fails to produce insulin properly. This means glucose can’t get into the body’s cells to be used for energy. It’s quite dangerous, and it usually requires lifelong treatment with insulin shots. So you can see that preventing diabetes in dogs is really, really important.
Type 1 diabetes is not caused by diet – but diet is a huge factor in preventing and managing it.
Dr Hofve has a lot of really good advice on how to do that. But first, how do you recognize the signs that your dog might have diabetes?
How To Know Your Dog Has Diabetes
Often the earliest signs of canine diabetes can only be noticed by a pet parent. It’s essential also to know the signs of canine diabetes help you to spot the signs and better manage when in its earliest stages. Excessive thirst and an increase in urination are often the most obvious signs of canine diabetes.
When diabetes progresses, unfortunately, it can become fatal. You don’t want to be a little too late in noticing that your dog is sick.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Increased thirst and drinking water more than usual
- Sudden weight loss
- Increased frequency in urination
- Ravenous appetite
Preventing canine diabetes isn’t as complicated. Like human beings, much of it has to do with the lifestyle also. Be sure to give your dog healthy meals and good exercise. If they’ve still been diagnosed with diabetes, this is something that’s also quite normal for dogs. When this happens, much of the work now is in your hands. Take good care of your dog, follow your doctor’s orders and your diabetic dog can live their best life.
Do You Know These Seven Symptoms of Canine Diabetes? - pets
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This is becoming more of an issue than most people realize. Here are some signs to monitor in your dog.
Diabetes in dogs is becoming more of an issue than most people think. Because of the increasing incidence of this, there are a few things that you need to monitor your dog for to know whether or not he might have canine diabetes. These symptoms aren’t specific only to diabetes, but may also signal some other health issues that may need your attention. As always, when in doubt, visit your veterinarian to get a thorough exam.
Canine diabetes is a condition in the endocrine system triggered by a deficiency of insulin, or it could also be caused by the body’s inability to respond to this hormone. Studies show that 1 out of every 400 dogs will develop diabetes. This condition could develop as a result of genetics, others have it as an aftermath of other diseases which damaged the pancreas, or it could be a congenital condition. It has also been shown that obesity can be a contributing factor.
Although canine diabetes can affect any breed of dog, any age or sex, female dogs are more susceptible and this is especially true when they reach 6 to 9 years old. Some breeds are also more prone to diabetes, particularly Beagles, Samoyeds, and Terriers.
There is currently no real cure for diabetes. However, there are some treatments that can be given to manage this disease effectively. Some of them include the administration of insulin injections, oral medication, and managing diet and exercise. Your veterinarian may choose to use any one of or a combination of these treatments.
If you happen to notice that your dog has started to drink more water than it normally does, this could be an indicator that they have diabetes. Dogs that drink more water than usual could be showing signs of high blood sugar and they are trying to flush the excess glucose with the water. With excessive water drinking comes excessive urination. You may not notice the water drinking, but you may notice the excessive urination. If your dog exhibits both of these symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian. The sooner this condition is diagnosed and managed, the better for your dog.
If your dog seems to have become lethargic and is napping more than normal, this could also be a sign of high blood sugar levels. If they aren’t moving around as much as they usually do, there is a good chance that the dog will gain weight as well. Another thing you should watch for is your dog constantly eating and being hungry but losing weight. Keeping a close eye on your pet’s weight is one way of preventing diabetes from even starting.
If your dog’s breath has started to take on a sweet smell rather than the usual “dog’s breath” that is normal for canines, then you should be extremely concerned and take it to the vet immediately. This can turn into a full blown attack of ketoacidosis, which is deadly if not treated immediately. If your dog shivers or shakes for no reason, this could be a sign of hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar, and this can also be as dangerous as high blood sugar for your dog.
Repeated urinary tract infections can also be a sign of diabetes in your pet and should be discussed with your vet. There is also the fact that your dog might not show any of these symptoms at all. Regular blood tests and checkups by your vet will not only give you peace of mind, but will catch any healthy problems early, and treatments can begin sooner.
As pet owners, we have the responsibility to ensure our diabetic dogs get proper treatment so that the condition will not worsen. Many complications take place due to negligence on the owner’s part therefore, we need to fully understand the responsibility that goes along with taking care of a diabetic dog. This starts with having a basic knowledge on what canine diabetes is all about. Being able to determine the signs and symptoms of diabetes is also just as important because unless we can identify these, we will not be aware that our dog has it, and it may be too late before we realize what’s going on.
Regular visits to the veterinarian will surely help, and it will be easier for the vet to monitor your dog. There are many problems associated with canine diabetes but these are avoidable if we make sure our dog is given correct treatment at the earliest possible moment. This is another reason for you to learn more about this medical condition.
When your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, it is important for you to understand that this is not the end of the world for him. It can be managed, and he can still live a long, full life. Taking care of a diabetic dog may not be the easiest thing in the world, but it is doable.