What Does Diabetes Mean For My Dog?

Dogs diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus get Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the destruction of pancreatic beta cells by T cells of the immune system, leaving the pancreas unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone which unlocks the cells for glucose to enter for energy.

There is no cure for diabetes in dogs. Untreated diabetes is a life threatening condition and poorly controlled diabetes can lead to cataracts, blindness, weakness of the legs (neuropathy), malnutrition, ketoacidosis and dehydration.

A dog newly diagnosed with diabetes will need starting on insulin therapy as soon as possible and for the rest of it's life. Insulin must be administered by subcutaneous injection, every 12 hours, usually within 10-15 minutes after food to keep the blood glucose levels within a safe range. Caninsulin is the name of the insulin used in the UK. It is an intermediate acting insulin containing porcine insulin, which is structurally identical to canine insulin. If your dog has allergies to pork products, discuss this with your vet before administering Caninsulin.

A dietary change is often needed as the insulin works with the food that we give. Diabetic dogs should be fed the correct calories for their ideal weight, split equally over two meals. A diabetic dog's diet should consist of no more than 10 - 12% fat on a dry matter basis as diabetic dogs are prone to pancreatitis which can be triggered by high fat diets.

The number of dogs diagnosed with diabetes mellitus has increased greatly in the past three decades. This may be due to the use of medications such as long term steroids, genetics and better diagnosis.

Today, diabetes effects around 1 in 500 dogs. Thirty years ago, a dog's survival rate was low. No more than 50% of all dogs diagnosed with diabetes survived after two months. With today's medicine and understanding of the disease, diabetic dogs receiving daily treatment of insulin along side a consistent diet and daily routine, have the same expected life span as a non-diabetic dog of the same age and sex and can live a normal, happy life.