Should I Give My Pet Insulin for His Diabetes?
The Effects of Canine Diabetes
Canine diabetes is a chronic illness that is caused by a deficiency of insulin, a hormone that regulates how sugars are absorbed in a dog's body, and are utilized by the related cells and tissues of the body. There are three factors that contribute to a dog being more susceptible to the effects of canine diabetes:
- Canine diabetes is more commonly found in dogs that are between the ages of five and seven years old.
- Female dogs are more susceptible candidates to the condition.
- Weight is also a significant factor, as more heavy set dogs are usually affected.
The Two Types of Canine Diabetes
There are two types of canine diabetes, each with different symptoms and treatments. Type 1 canine diabetes (diabetes insipidus) is caused by an insufficient production by the pancreas of the hormone known as insulin. This deficiency of insulin in the body is due to an insufficient number of insulin producing cells. Type 1 diabetes is the most serious form of the two types, and often develops in young pets. A dog that is affected with Type 1 canine diabetes will require insulin injections for the rest of its life. This type of diabetes is not preventable. Type 2 canine diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is the result of an inadequate response or resistance from a dog to insulin. Older, obese dogs are more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes as fat cells may become resistant to insulin.
The Need for Diabetes Medication
The first goal of diabetes therapy is to give a pet a long and happy life. A pet's blood glucose level should be kept no lower than 100-150 mg/dL and no higher than 250-300 mg/dL. This can be maintained by being consistent with diet, feeding times, injections and exercise. Unless a pet is hypoglycemic, diabetes medication should not be withheld from an animal. Dogs that are feeling ill and are not hungry need to continue to receive insulin, since withholding both food and diabetes medication is likely to start the production of ketones. If there are a large amount of ketones being produced, then the dog will continue to feel unwell, and ketoacidosis will occur.
Alternative Recommendations for Controlling Pet Diabetes
Researchers are working to find new therapies that will help to provide alternatives to insulin injections. While providing vitamins and minerals will certainly help a pet's overall health, insulin injections should not be disregarded as part of an animal's treatment unless otherwise specified by a trusted veterinarian.
Check with a Veterinarian
When it comes time to use diabetes medication, it is important to find out the reasons why a veterinarian chooses to use a certain type of medication. The reasons can range from being a first choice medical recommendation, to being based off of a veterinarian's personal experiences. It is also important to know how long an animal should stay with a certain type of diabetes treatment if it does not seem to be working.
Photo Credit: Todd Yuzwa