When your dog develops type 2 diabetes, the way their body processes insulin changes and their body gradually becomes resistant to insulin. This then prevents glucose levels being regulated efficiently, as muscles and organs in your dog's body can't process glucose for energy in the normal way they would be able to if their insulin levels were stable. Glucose builds up and can put too much strain on your dog's liver and pancreas as they struggle to process it, and this can lead to organ damage over time. Here's what you need to know about type 2 diabetes in dogs:
Your dog can develop insulin resistant diabetes due to any of the following reasons:
- Being overweight
- Having pancreatitis, which can alter insulin production
- Having a genetic susceptibility, as some breeds are more prone to the condition than others
Type 2 diabetes can cause the following symptoms:
- A marked increase in thirst and urination
- Rapid weight loss
- Depression, which may present as withdrawal from play and interaction with other dogs or people
In order to confirm your dog has type 2 diabetes, your vet will check the glucose levels in your dog's blood and test their urine for signs of dehydration, which is commonly seen in diabetic dogs due to the frequency of urination. If there's protein in your dog's urine, they may also have kidney damage due to uncontrolled diabetes.
Once your vet diagnoses your dog with type 2 diabetes, they will recommend a course of action for stabilising your dog's glucose levels. If your dog is dehydrated, they will be given intravenous fluids at the surgery and their blood and urine will be tested again to ensure their electrolyte levels are within the normal range.
The vet will take details of your dog's diet and exercise routine and provide guidance on any changes required to bring their weight down to a healthy level and keep their glucose levels steady. For example, they may recommend a fibre-rich brand of dog food that prevents spikes in blood glucose levels, as it takes longer for your dog to digest it than varieties that are primarily made up of refined carbohydrates.
If your vet recommends daily insulin injections to keep glucose levels steady, they will show you how to administer the insulin and track your dog's glucose levels each day. Giving your dog daily injections may seem a little daunting, but if left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of other health problems for your dog, including loss of vision, nerve damage and vascular disease.
If you suspect your dog may have type 2 diabetes, have them assessed by your vet as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary discomfort.