Diabetes Complications in Dogs and How to Prevent Them Tips to Improve a Diabetic Dogโ€™s Quality of Life

BY | January 04 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Diabetes Complications in Dogs and How to Prevent Them

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Diabetes is a serious condition that can cause life-threatening complications in dogs. Learn more about managing diabetes in dogs to prevent complications.

Diabetes is a common and potentially serious condition that affects both humans and dogs. It occurs when the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels, leading to high levels of glucose in the blood. Diabetes can cause a range of complications, including kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision problems. In dogs, diabetes is often treated with insulin injections and a special diet, but prevention is also important. 

In this article, we will discuss the potential complications of diabetes in dogs and how to prevent them. Overall, the goal is to help pet owners understand how to keep their diabetic dogs healthy and happy.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

Diabetic ketoacidosis is extremely serious and can occur in both humans and dogs. It is a metabolic state in which the body produces high levels of ketones, which are substances produced when the body breaks down fat for energy. 

DKA occurs when your dog’s body does not have enough insulin to metabolize glucose properly, leading to an accumulation of ketones in the blood. This can be a life-threatening condition if left untreated.

Symptoms of DKA in dogs may include:

  • Increased thirst and urination

  • Weight loss

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Weakness and lethargy

  • Rapid breathing and panting

  • Sweet-smelling breath

  • Abdominal pain

Treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in dogs typically involves a combination of insulin therapy, fluids, and electrolyte replacement. The goal of treatment is to correct the underlying insulin deficiency and restore normal glucose metabolism.

Insulin therapy is typically the mainstay of treatment for DKA in dogs. Insulin for dogs is given intravenously or subcutaneously (under the skin) to help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the production of ketones. The type and dose of insulin will depend on the individual dog and the severity of their DKA.

Fluid therapy is also an important part of treatment for DKA in dogs. Fluids are given intravenously to help rehydrate the body and correct any electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, are essential for proper body function and can be depleted in dogs with DKA.

In severe cases of DKA, hospitalization may be necessary. During hospitalization, your dog will receive continuous insulin therapy and close monitoring to ensure that their condition is improving. Your veterinarian will also monitor your dog's vital signs, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, to ensure that they are stable.

Iatrogenic Hypoglycaemic Crisis

Iatrogenic hypoglycemic crisis (IHC) is a condition that occurs when a diabetic dog's blood sugar levels become too low, a condition known as hypoglycemia. This can happen if a dog receives too much insulin or if their insulin needs change suddenly. IHC is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Symptoms of IHC in dogs may include:

  • Weakness and lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Shaking or trembling

  • Seizures

  • Coma

If you suspect your dog is experiencing an IHC, it is important to seek immediate veterinary care. Treatment for IHC typically involves administering glucose or another form of sugar to raise blood sugar levels. This can be done orally, by feeding your dog a small amount of honey or corn syrup, or intravenously through a glucose drip.

In severe cases of IHC, hospitalization may be necessary. During hospitalization, your dog will receive continuous glucose therapy and close monitoring to ensure that their blood sugar levels are stable. Your veterinarian may also adjust your dog's insulin dosage or treatment plan to prevent future episodes of IHC.

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) affects organs like the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. UTIs are common in dogs and can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or other microorganisms. UTIs can be particularly problematic in diabetic dogs, as high blood sugar levels can create an environment in which bacteria can thrive.

Symptoms of a UTI in dogs may include:

  • Frequent urination

  • Straining while urinating

  • Presence of blood in the urine

  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

  • Pain or discomfort when urinating

  • Loss of appetite

  • Lethargy or weakness

If you suspect your dog has a UTI, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. UTIs can be treated with antibiotics for pets and other medications to kill the bacteria and prevent the infection from spreading. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

It is important to follow your veterinarian's treatment plan for a UTI and to finish the full course of antibiotics to ensure that the infection is fully cleared. Your veterinarian may also recommend dietary changes or supplements to support your dog's urinary tract health.

To prevent UTIs in diabetic dogs, it is important to keep blood sugar levels well-controlled and to encourage your dog to drink plenty of water. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian will also be important to monitor your dog's urinary tract health and to identify any potential issues early on.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur in people and dogs with diabetes. It is caused by high blood sugar levels that damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the nerves. Diabetic neuropathy can affect the nerves in any part of the body, but it most commonly affects the nerves in the legs, feet, and toes.

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy in dogs may include:

  • Weakness or paralysis in the legs

  • Decreased reflexes

  • Loss of sensation in the feet or toes

  • Difficulty standing or walking

  • Licking or biting at the feet or toes

  • Pain or discomfort

Treatment for diabetic neuropathy in dogs may include medications to reduce inflammation and pain, physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and improve mobility, and pet supplements to support nerve health. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct any structural problems or to remove damaged tissue.

Diabetic Cataracts

Diabetic cataracts are a common complication of diabetes that affects the lens of the eye. They are caused by high blood sugar levels that damage the proteins in the lens, leading to cloudiness or opacity. Diabetic cataracts can cause vision loss and, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.

Symptoms of diabetic cataracts in dogs may include:

  • Cloudy or blurry vision

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Difficulty seeing at night

  • Squinting or rubbing the eyes

  • Eye discharge or redness

Treatment for diabetic cataracts in dogs typically involves surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens. This procedure, called cataract surgery, is typically performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist. The success rate for cataract surgery in dogs is generally high, and most dogs experience significant improvement in their vision following the procedure.

In conclusion, diabetes is a common and potentially serious condition that affects both humans and dogs. It can cause a range of complications, including kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision problems. It is important for pet owners to be aware of the potential complications of diabetes in dogs and to take steps to prevent them. 

This may include managing your dog's diet and insulin treatment, encouraging them to drink plenty of water, and regularly checking their blood sugar levels. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian will also be important to monitor your dog's overall health and to identify any potential issues early on. By following your veterinarian's treatment plan and taking an active role in your dog's care, you can help your diabetic dog live a happy and healthy life.

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