Is your dog at risk for diabetes?
Is your dog at risk for diabetes?
How to identify diabetes risk factors in your dog and what you can do about it.
Diabetes affects as many as 1 in 60 dogs, and it is a lifetime disease that requires careful monitoring and consistent care. Diabetes is a chronic disease of the pancreas where the body is either unable to produce enough insulin to regulate the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, or is unable to utilize the insulin that is produced properly.
The risk factors for developing diabetes are fairly straight-forward, and some are preventable. Being overweight is the single most important lifestyle factor that contributes to the development of diabetes. It is estimated that 25-30% of the North American canine population is overweight. There are other risk factors that contribute to a dog’s likelihood of developing diabetes, such as breed- studies have shown that mixed breeds are more likely to develop diabetes, and certain purebred breeds, like Samoyeds and Cairn Terriers, have a higher risk of developing diabetes as well. Alternately, some breeds have a very low risk for developing diabetes, such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. Age is also a factor, with most dogs developing diabetes during middle or old age. Female dogs and neutered male dogs are also more likely to develop diabetes than intact male dogs.
Signs and symptoms your dog may be developing diabetes are excessive thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, and weight loss in spite of that increased appetite. If you think your dog might be showing signs of developing diabetes, have him checked out by your veterinarian. The vet will perform blood tests, which will diagnose diabetes by showing increased glucose levels in the blood, as well as tests that will show the presence of glucose in the urine.
If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, he or she will need consistent ongoing treatment for the rest of his or her life. The financial commitment to treat a diabetic dog is minimal; much more important is the commitment by you, the owner, to devote the time and effort to regulating and monitoring a diabetic dog’s treatment and feeding schedule. Controlling a diabetic dog’s blood sugar level is key- a diabetic dog must be fed the same amount of the same food, at the same times every day. Switching your dog’s food may be necessary based on your veterinarian’s assessment of your specific dog’s needs. Fiber-rich and low-carb formulas are often recommended, so sugars are digested slowly to prevent spikes in blood sugar levels, along with twice- daily meals. Diabetic dogs will also need to be treated with one or more insulin injections a day.
Prevention is vital- starting as a puppy, managing the amount of food your dog receives every day will allow your puppy to grow at a healthy and reasonable rate. Free choice feeding can lead to increased growth rates when food intake is not regulated, creating unhealthy eating habits throughout life and an increased risk of developing diabetes and obesity. Establishing a consistent exercise regime with your dog of daily walks and play time is also important for maintaining a healthy weight.
If your dog is overweight or obese, helping your dog return to a healthy weight quickly is the single most important thing you can do to help your dog avoid a diabetes diagnosis. Wearing a Voyce wellness monitor can help you and your vet get your dog down to a healthy weight, and then maintain that normal weight, combatting the most preventable factor that put dogs at risk for developing diabetes. If your dog has already been diagnosed with diabetes, Voyce can help you and your vet monitor your dog’s condition, and alert your vet to the first signs that something is not right or when their treatment plan needs to be changed. Knowing the risk factors for developing diabetes and helping your dog to combat those risks with regular assessments will help your dog live a long and healthy life.