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January 7, 2010 at 2:48 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What Is Canine Diabetes?

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Canine diabetes is a fairly common endocrine condition in dogs affecting 1 in 500. It is much like human diabetes, having the same causes and being treated with the same methods. Also like human diabetes, canine diabetes is not a death sentence, so don't despair if your dog has recently been diagnosed. The best thing you can do for your diabetic dog is learn all you can about this condition.

An Introduction to Diabetes

Diabetes is actually short for diabetes mellitus, which includes a group of conditions characterized by insulin deficiency or insensitivity. There are two major types of diabetes, called Type I (insulin dependent) and Type II (insulin independent). While both types can occur in dogs, Type II is far more common.

What Causes Canine Diabetes?

Diabetes in dogs can be caused by a combination of things including genetics, lack of exercise, and poor diet. Canine diabetes (type II) results when cells become desensitized to insulin due to insulin over-exposure. Diets high in sugar and simple carbohydrates are processed very quickly, causing blood glucose levels to rise sharply. As a result, the pancreas over-produces insulin to help cells take up the large amount of glucose. Often, the pancreas over-estimates the amount of insulin needed, the excess of which can cause cells to become desensitized to its action. Desensitization to insulin causes blood glucose levels to remain high, where it can interact with other proteins, preventing their function and damaging tissue. If left untreated, canine diabetes can result in death as the small blood vessels within organs get damaged and cause death of organ tissue.

Symptoms of Canine Diabetes

Dogs with uncontrolled diabetes will often urinate more as the kidneys remove excess glucose from the blood by flushing. As a result, diabetic dogs will drink more in order to remain hydrated. Other common symptoms of canine diabetes are increased appetite, weight loss, and sudden cataract formation.

Dog Breeds Prone to Canine Diabetes

While many cases of canine diabetes are the result of poor diet and lack of exercise, some dog breeds are more susceptible to developing the condition due to their genetic make-up. These breeds include:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Beagle
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • Daschund
  • Doberman
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Golden Retriever
  • Hungarian Puli
  • Keeshond
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Old English sheepdog
  • Poodles
  • Samoyed
  • Schipperke
  • Springer Spaniel
  • West Highland White Terrier

How Is Canine Diabetes Treated?

Because most canine diabetes cases are the result of being overweight from a poor diet, dietary changes are usually the first form of treatment. Dog foods low in sugars and fats and high in complex carbohydrates and fiber are helpful to regulate blood sugar levels. Excessive body fat can also be a cause of insulin desensitization. This is easily reversed by helping dogs to lose weight through exercise. For cases that don't respond, or simply don't respond well enough, there are other natural methods to regulate blood sugar in addition to dietary changes. Many herbs and minerals contain ingredients that either aid in insulin sensitivity or insulin production.


Photo Credit: ohhector

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