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Diabetes in Dogs: What it Is and How It's Treated

You suspect your dog may have diabetes (or you've already received a diagnosis). Our Charlotte veterinarians explain what dog diabetes is, and what you need to know about symptoms and treatment. 

What is Dog Diabetes?

Dog diabetes (canine diabetes) is an incurable disease. It’s caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin (which maintains blood sugar levels) in your dog’s body, or an insufficient biological response to it.

When a dog eats, insulin would usually transfer the glucose from their food to their cells. However, if your dog’s body isn’t properly using insulin or producing enough of it, his body won’t use the glucose properly.

What are the symptoms of dog diabetes?

The circumstances noted above could send your dog’s blood sugar levels rising to higher-than-appropriate levels, which can result in the following symptoms:

Woman and Dog

  • Marked increase in urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Breath that smells “sweet”
  • Lack of energy
  • Unexplained weight loss

At Providence Animal Hospital in Charlotte, we can identify diseases by performing diagnostic tests during physical exams, then create custom treatment plans based on test results.

Treatment Options and Management

In the vast majority of cases of dog diabetes, insulin is the recommended treatment. Your dog will often need twice-daily injections, but if you’re less than enthused about it, you’re certainly not alone.

Insulin is often a cornerstone of treatment. It’s widely believed to be the best treatment as most dogs with diabetes suffer from the insulin-dependent type of disease, as their diabetic pancreas will simply not produce insulin. Your veterinarian can teach you how to give injections.

Other important parts of treatment include:

Diet - A consistent diet will go a long way to ensuring your dog’s life with diabetes is as long and healthy as possible. A diet for a diabetic dog usually includes high-quality protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, all of which aid in slowing glucose absorption. Our veterinarian may also suggest a low-fat diet.

Exercise routine - Moderate but consistent exercise is a must to help prevent sudden drops or increases in glucose levels.

As for managing your dog’s day-to-day with diabetes, your veterinarian will work closely with you to determine the best management plan.

To start, you may need to make visits more often for adjustments to medication and testing, but hopefully the appropriate combination of diet and monitoring at home in addition to medication and dosage will soon be achieved. This will help regulate your dog’s blood sugars to consistent levels and ensure he lives a full, content life.

Tips to Keep a Dog with Diabetes Healthy

Remaining lean is essential. If your vet finds that your dog is overweight, losing a few pounds could potentially help his cells use insulin more efficiently.

Ensure your four-legged friend drinks plenty of water to counteract the fiber in his new diet, as water will be taken faster from the body due to the fiber content. If fiber and water are unbalanced, this can result in constipation and other issues.

Let your veterinarian know if your dog has lost his appetite - this could mean he’s experiencing complications related to the diabetes, or just that he’s not enamored with his new food.

Make sure you provide insulin injections when your dog’s stomach is full to prevent illness.

If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, try not to worry. With ongoing veterinary care, you should be able to provide everything your furry friend needs so both of you can spend much more time with each other.

Please note: The information in this post is intended to help inform you about canine diabetes and is not designed to replace veterinary diagnosis.

Wondering if your dog may have diabetes? Have questions about treatment? Our Charlotte vets can provide insights and advice. Contact us today.

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Providence Animal Hospital has been providing comprehensive veterinary care for your cherished pets in Charlotte since 1993.

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