Here's a statistic that may be surprising to some pet owners:
There has been a 32 percent rise in dogs being diagnosed with diabetes between the years of 2006 and 2010, according to a study released by Banfield Pet Hospital called the “State of Pet Health 2011 Report.”
The study shows that canine obesity was one of the leading factors in dogs developing Diabetes Mellitus, and it remained within the top five causes for the disease among young adult, mature adult and geriatric dogs.
The authors of the report advise owners to bring dogs to the vet twice a year as opposed to once, which will increase the chance of the illness being discovered in its beginning stages.
Also, pet owners should be engaging their dogs in the right amount of physical activity, while constantly managing their food intake, meal portions and other nutritional needs.
All of these methods combined will significantly lower the possibility of your dog developing diabetes or other dangerous illnesses, say experts.
Placing one hand on your dog's side is one quick way of checking to see if your dog is obese or not. If you're not able to feel your dog's ribs quickly and upon first touch, it's a good indication he or she may be overweight.
There are also other symptoms that owners will notice when their dog is suffering from the disease.
“Polyuria, which means urination. Polydipsia, which is drinking more, is the first sign you see in dogs and weight loss,” said Dr. Sailendra Roy, a veterinarian at Ambassador Animal Hospital, located in Silver Spring, Md. in an interview with ConsumerAffairs.
“That's the characteristic or sign which prompts the owner to say 'hey something is going wrong here.' And then they bring the animals in, we do the blood work exactly the same way like humans. So that's the typical symptom. Once you get the blood work it tells you more if there are any other organs involved and things like that. But these are the primary symptoms," he said.
Experts also say if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, but still able to hold down food and water without vomiting, they may be able to be treated as an outpatient and won't require an expensive and sometimes stressful hospital stay.
Of course this will be ultimately determined by the veterinarian during the initial diagnosis or within your pet's follow-up visits.
Canine Diabetes is usually due to an insufficient amount of insulin being created in the dog's body, which is the Type 1 version of the disease, formerly known in humans as Juvenile Diabetes. In rare cases a dog may have enough natural insulin but the pancreas will process it in the wrong way, say experts. This can cause Type 2 diabetes, formerly known in humans as Adult Onset Diabetes.
Currently, there is no cure for the disease in animals, and although treatments vary, Dr. Roy says insulin has a far better success rate than other types of medicines, and really should be your first line of attack against dog diabetes.
“Once a dog is diagnosed, most dogs will be depending on insulin or medication,” he said. “In cats and dogs oral medication has questionable benefits.”
“So you start with insulin and there's a lot of foods out there which are designed as a prescription diet for diabetic patients,” he noted. “There are quite a few out there like Waltham. They have different kinds of diabetic diets that are normally recommended because home meds are kind of impossible [to properly treat the dog].”
The Banfield Hospital report also shows that geography may play a part in dogs being diagnosed with diabetes. In 2010, Rhode Island, Iowa, Idaho, Nevada, and Delaware had the highest rate of Diabetes Mellitus in dogs.
Although the reason why these states had a higher prevalence for Canine Diabetes wasn't revealed in the report, it could be due to the same reason diabetes numbers fluctuate between states among humans.
Awareness, lifestyle and overall culture have always impacted health and potential treatments in humans and their pets.
Once a dog starts treatment, it's unlikely that the condition will reverse itself, and medication will be needed for the remaining years of the animal's life, Dr. Roy said.
“Once the insulin starts, spontaneous remission is non-existent,” he said. "Most dogs will be getting it for the rest of their lives. There are some reports that [show] sometimes dogs and cats get into remission, but it's so rare. I haven't seen that happen."
According to Michigan veterinarian Dr. Race Foster, who co-authored four books on pet health, certain dog breeds are more prone to getting diabetes than others.
Labrador and golden retrievers, German shepherds, Yorkshire terriers, the Keeshond, the beagle and poodles of various sizes all have a slightly greater chance of developing the disease, he says.
Although Dr. Roy agrees there are some key findings on the link between genetics and Canine Diabetes, there isn't enough large-scale research for veterinarians to make a full and absolute conclusion.
“In the same way that research has been done in humans you can see a familiar test result,” [in dogs] he says. “We ask the patient if their parents had diabetes. I don't think as far as my knowledge is concerned that there is any extensive research to find out whether there's an inherited gene that's possible for diabetes in animals.”
Experts also say that using a portable blood glucose meter for your dog as well as keeping an informational chart of the results is imperative once your dog is diagnosed, and it's also important not to change your pet's diet until you discuss it first with your veterinarian.
Here's a statistic that may be surprising to some pet owners:There has been a 32 percent rise in dogs being diagnosed with diabetes between the years of...