Does Your Dog Have Diabetes?

4-Tips-on-How-to-Feed-a-Dog-with-DiabetesDiabetes mellitus is a common disease that is caused by either the lack of insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. It persists in anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs.

Diabetes typically occurs when dogs are between 4 to 14 years old.  The primary cause is unknown, but experts suggest that genetics may play a role.  Any breed can be affected, but breeds that tend to have a greater risk for developing canine diabetes are:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pomeranians
  • Terriers
  • Toy Poodles

Knowing the signs of diabetes is the key to protecting your pet. Proper treatment can lead to a long, happy, healthy and active life.  If any of these statements or symptoms describe your pet, I would recommend talking to your veterinarian about the possibility of diabetes:

  • Drinks more water than usual
  • Urinates more frequently, produces more urine per day, or has “accidents” in the house
  • Always acts hungry, but just maintains or is losing weight
  • Has cloudy eyes

A veterinarian will check your pet’s general health and may ask about the previous signs.  This can rule out the possibility of other infections or conditions.  Your veterinarian will probably check your dog’s urine for the presence of glucose and ketones and, if indicated, will measure the blood glucose concentration in your pet.  A definitive diagnosis only is definite when glucose is found in the urine and a persistantly high concentration in the blood.

If your pet has diabetes, the goal is to manage the diabetes by keeping the glucose concentrations regulated, avoiding spikes and drops, and to reduce or eliminate the clinical signs of this condition, such as excessive thirst and urination.  Although diabetes can’t be cured, it is not unreasonable to expect that the condition can be successfully managed with daily insulin injections and changes in your pet’s diet and lifestyle.

Once your pet is on the daily insulin injections, it will be important to monitor the blood glucose concentration and keep it to as close to normal as possible.  You don’t want the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or other long term complications developing. This can be done using urine glucose test strips or blood glucose meters.  By consulting with your veterinarian, you can decide what will work best for you and your dog.

Your pet’s diet plays a vital role in keeping the blood glucose regulated.  Ideally, your pet should be fed exactly the same amount of the same diet every day and at the same times of day.  Your veterinarian can determine how many calories your pet needs daily, based on his weight and activity level.  Most veterinarians recommend a high-fiber, low-fat diet.  The fiber slows the entrance of glucose into the blood stream and helps your dog feel full.  Low-fat foods have fewer calories.  So together, the diet can help your dog eat less and lose weight.

Make sure that your pet drinks plenty of water.  Fiber takes water from the body and can cause constipation and other problems.

It is important that your dog continue to eat due to the fact that  you cannot give insulin to a dog on an empty stomach.  It can make him very sick due to the blood glucose level dropping to dangerous levels.  So if your pet is not eating much, talk to your veterinarian.  This may mean that he doesn’t like the food or it can mean that he is having diabetes-related complications.

Exercise is important for all dogs, but it may be even more important for dogs with diabetes.  Exercise needs to be regulated because it affects the blood glucose concentrations in the diabetic dog.  It is best to create a consistent exercise routine for your pet to avoid sudden changes in energy requirements.  If you are concerned about your pet’s needs, just ask your veterinarian.

Regular check ups with your veterinarian can help identify changes in your pet’s condition.  While you may feel that things are going well with your ability to care for your diabetic dog, visiting your veterinarian regularly will help you successfully manage the condition over time.

Diabetes isn’t a death sentence.  So take a deep breath because with good care, your companion can lead a long healthy life. For more information, or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office. 

Pet Obesity Awareness: Tips For Keeping Your Pet Slim & Trim

obese-dogDo you know what 88.4 million dogs and cats have in common?  They are obese.  In a recent study, it was found that 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of adult cats in the United States were classified as being overweight or obese by their veterinarians.  Many of these pets were not characterized by their owners as being obese.  So in simple terms, fat pets are the new normal in pet ownership.

Even though they may be cute, being overweight may be detrimental to your pets health.  These extra pounds can put the pets at risk to other disorders such as painful arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulty, diabetes and even bladder cancer.  Obesity not only affects your pets health but also their quality of life.

Certain pets are more likely to be obese.  These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Breed—Certain breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Cocker Spaniels and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels tend to more likely affected.
  • Age – Older dogs are less active, have less energy, and require less calories.
  • Neutering/ spaying – Clinical trials have shown that the basic metabolism is lower in neutered dogs, so they require less calories.
  • Medical Problems – Sometimes weight gain can be associated with a medical problem, so a specific treatment may be required.
  • Overfeeding – This tends to be the most common problem.  Dogs having an unlimited access to food tend to eat more than they need.  Also many commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat to improve the taste.  This could make your pet want to gorge.
  • Feeding habits – Feeding table scraps and “people food” can lead to obesity
  • Lack of exercise – As with people, too much food and too little exercise produces a typical result.  Obesity

An owner can assess their pets’ weight at home and contact your veterinarian if you think that you have a problem.  To do this, I would suggest the following.

  1. By running your hands along your pet’s ribcage, you should be able to palpate the ribs covered by a thin layer of fat.  If you cannot feel the ribs, that could be a sign of an overweight pet.
  2. Look at your pet from the side.  You should see an upward tuck of the abdomen. An overweight pet will have very little to no tuck.
  3. View your pet from above.  There should be a moderate narrowing at the waist just past the ribcage.  A straight or bulging line from the ribcage to the hips can indicate and overweight pet.
  4. A lot of pets will gain weight in the neck area.  So if the collar needs loosening, this may indicate obesity.

The most effective way to achieve a healthy weight is to combine increased exercise with changes in your pet’s food or nutrition program.  An exercise program should include walking your dog at a constant pace to help burn calories.  The program should also include encouraging it to play in the yard or at home.  Tossing a frisbee or a ball can also help burn excess calories.  It is important to remember that when starting an exercise program, make sure that you ease into exercise.  Because an overweight pet is more prone to injury.

A proper diet is essential for your pets overall health and well-being.  Balanced nutrition is an important part of an active, healthy lifestyle.  A low fat and low calorie diet is essential in helping your pet lose weight and stay fit.  Fiber is also an important ingredient since it helps your dog eat less while keeping full.  It is important to avoid table scraps and make sure that you account for the treats when considering how much to feed your pet during meals.

Weight loss is important, and your veterinarian is a good place to start.  If your pet is obese, a veterinarian can help rule out ailments that can cause obesity and give you advice what foods might be best for your pet.  Monitoring its weight loss is also important.  A dog should typically lose about 1 pound per month, so monthly weigh-ins will help determine if the program is working for it.

Most things are easier said than done, but that doesn’t always need to be the case.  Remember that you are your pet’s will power and are in control of its health.  Allowing it to become obese is detrimental, and we know that you don’t want your pet leaving your side any sooner that it needs to.  Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to maintaining a long, healthy life.  With time and effort on your pet, it will be happier and healthier than ever.