Diabetes and Older Dogs
There are two types of diabetes in dogs, diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus is the most common and associated with an insulin deficiency. Insulin is the required by the body for the proper use of glucose (sugar) for energy. Diabetes insipidus is less common, caused by a diuretic hormone known as vasopressin responsible for the control of water re-absorption by the kidneys.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus in dogs, very similar to the two types of diabetes mellitus in humans. The first type is congenital, very similar to type 1 juvenile onset diabetes in humans. The second is acquired, very similar to type 2 adult onset diabetes in humans. The majority of all canine diabetes cases are insulin dependent, having type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Mellitus: Insulin
Insulin is essential for the proper use of glucose (sugar). Food that is ingested must be broken down and absorbed by the gastrointestinal system. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream as a source of energy. However, the cells can not utilize glucose in the absence of insulin. Insulin is responsible for the mediation and transport of glucose from the blood into the cells where it can be utilized as energy. Insulin is also responsible for preventing the liver from the production of excess amounts of glucose, in addition to regulating the body in the storage of sugar. Diabetes mellitus is the condition where the body can not naturally produce enough insulin to properly regulate blood sugars.
Diabetes Mellitus: Risk Factors and Causes
The presence of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is a common condition for dogs. It is particularly prevalent between the ages of seven and nine. It is also correlated to have higher prevalence in unspayed female dogs. Specific breeds have a genetic predisposition for the condition of diabetes mellitus including Terriers, Dachshunds, Beagles, Miniature Schnauzers, Poodles, Keeshonds, and Miniature Pinschers. There are other diseases that seem to trigger the development of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, including viral infections, pancreatic infections, reproductive hormones, steroids, Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism) and immune deficiencies.
Diabetes Mellitus: Signs and Symptoms
Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus is associated with several signs and symptoms in dogs. These symptoms include excessive thirst (polydipsia), excessive hunger (polyphagia), and excessive urination (polyuria) associated with episodes of incontinence. Failure to treat the condition of diabetes mellitus will result in weight loss, as the dog's body will use other reserves for the production of energy. Eventual effects will include loss of appetite, vomiting, depression, and lethargy if left untreated. Dogs are also more susceptible to certain fungal and bacterial infections that commonly lead the development of cataracts and liver or bladder problems.
Diabetes Mellitus: Treatment and Diagnosis
Diabetes mellitus in dogs is typically diagnosed by a veterinarian through testing for excessive glucose levels in the urine. However, diagnosis is dependent upon the owner to detect initial symptoms of weight loss, increased thirst, increased hunger, and increased urination. A variety of treatment options exist, including insulin injections prescribed by your veterinarian. There are also natural options including overall improvement of diet, lifestyle, and certain products associated with improvement of diabetes symptoms.
Diabetes Mellitus: Will the Problem Fix Itself?
Diabetes is not typically a condition that will fix itself. If it is a secondary condition due to a primary condition, it may go away if the primary condition is treated. Weight is also a large factor in the development of diabetes. Overweight dogs are much more likely to develop diabetes mellitus. If neither of these factors is present, it will not likely go away on its own, and will require treatment of some kind. Don't lose hope; it is possible to successfully manage diabetes in dogs.
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