Diabetes in dogs is due to a change in the metabolism of sugar in the body. Starches and simple sugars like glucose come from the diet. Sugar entering cells is controlled by a hormone called insulin which is produced from the pancreas. Sugar passes into cells via a lock-and-key type relationship. The lock is a receptor in the cell membrane and insulin is the key that unlocks the receptor, allowing sugar to enter the cell. Without insulin, sugar stays in the bloodstream and cells are forced to use fat and protein as a source for energy instead, causing weight reduction through loss of fat and muscle mass. This is why we will see sudden weight loss in diabetic dogs.
Because sugar remains in the bloodstream when the body doesn’t produce insulin, it floods the kidney’s ability to filter and conserve sugar. This allows sugar to enter into the urine. The glucose pulls water with it as it passes through the kidney and into urine, causing dilution of urine, more frequent urination, and increased water consumption due to the water loss from the excess glucose.The typical symptoms that bring owners to our clinic include: increased drinking and urinating, weight loss despite an increased appetite, and saggy skin due to the sudden and excessive weight loss.
Treatment for diabetes begins by introducing a new diet that your dog will eat on a consistent basis. Insulin is then given twice a day after your dog has eaten. It is given as close to every 12 hours as possible to help maintain a regular metabolism. It is important to use a diet that is high in insoluble fiber, which is not digested by the bacteria in the colon and doesn’t supply any sugars to your pet. Insoluble fiber helps to blunt the typical surge in blood glucose that occurs after eating. It is also important to choose a diet that has fulfilled the AAFCO standards. The AAFCO seal is usually found on the side or back of the dog food bag. Diets that meet this standard do not require additional supplements. These are typically prescription diets that can be purchased at our clinic in Naples, or shipped to your home in Estero or Marco Island, for example, through our website at www.mynaplesvet.com or our online pharmacy at https://mynaplesvet.vetsfirstchoice.com.
It is important to monitor your dog’s drinking, urination, appetite and weight. Changes in the pattern once your dog has begun insulin treatment will be important indicators that regulation has become disrupted. Factors that can cause your diabetic dog to become out of regulation include dental and bladder infections and high starch/sugar foods and treats.
At Town & Country Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of options to detect and manage dog and cat diabetes, as well as care and treatment for many other diseases and issues, including dog dental disease and dog obesity.