As a very recently former dog co-owner, I have learned a lot about their character, habits, and needs. As I scientist, I have the knowledge of mechanisms going on deeper in the background of this beautiful creatures.
Besides remembering the good stuff, I remember some of the health “battles” we have fought during the 16 years, 4 months and 1 day.
My sister is a veterinarian, which helps a lot. She is possibly the best DoggyDoc app I could have asked for. But not many of us have a vet in the family, and that is why DoggyDoc proves to be extremely useful.
We all know that the best way to treat and care for your dog is to love it and pay attention to it. Remember, what it can’t tell you in words, it is telling you in small signs: perhaps glassy eyes, loss of appetite or decreased mobility. Those are alert signs many of us old dog owners know so well. But what about the first-time dog owners? They need DoggyDoc.
Besides the genetics, which is always a strong factor, feeding your dog wrongly will be a decisive factor in triggering many diseases; diabetes is the first to be covered by me.
This post will be dedicated to how to recognize early symptoms of diabetes in dogs. Nelson and Reusch wrote quite a comprehensive review about diabetes in dogs and cats, to which I am referring to for the most of the text following below.
Dogs mostly suffer diabetes type 1, with classical symptoms of polyuria (excessive production and passage of urine) followed by polydipsia (excessive thirst), polyphagia (excessive hunger) as well as the weight loss.
Unlike in humans, where we are more aware, and able to communicate pathological changes in our health directly to the doctor, a subclinical (prediabetic) state is most often not recognized in the dogs.
Fully blown diabetes is detected in dogs often when the blood sugar levels are so high that sugar starts being secreted in the urine (glycosuria). This is a pathological condition, as normal dog’s kidneys would be able to re-uptake all of the sugar from the pre-urine filtrate back into the bloodstream.
This is the time when most of the dog owners will recognize that something is wrong with their animal. Certain percentage of owners will be unsure about the symptoms displayed, and decide to wait a bit longer till going to the doctor, which might be understandable considering the price veterinarians might charge pet owners for a visit.
However, if diabetes is left undiagnosed and untreated other, much more severe symptoms will start showing up. Those include high cholesterol and trygliceride levels in the blood (hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia), ketones in the urine (ketonuria) and ketoacidosis (a pathological methabolic state, marked by extremely high concentrations of ketone bodies, and can be fatal in extreme cases). If the owner notices change in the smell of dog’s breath (smells like acetone), this is the sign of ketoacidosis.
Next stages are kidney failure, blindness and ultimately death. This stage can be easily prevented. If one is unsure, you should always contact the veterinarian. However, if the symptoms occur suddenly, and you are not able to reach out to the vet, DoggyDoc should be able to give you an indication of what might be going wrong in your pets body.
Lastly, please keep in mind that diabetes might develop as a consequence of organ injury, in this case it would be pancreas. Did your dog suffer any blunt trauma? Note that too. In addition, it is not uncommon for diabetes to arise during the pregnancy (carbohydrate intolerance).
Before going to the vet?
Check your dog's symptoms against the symptom database found in DoggyDoc.
Here is why an app such as DoggyDoc can help you: you are having a normal working hours, and usually spend major part of your quality time with your pet in the early mornings or evenings, when most of the regular veterinarian practices are closed. You might be vacationing with your dog, and are not in the know of any vets in your vicinity.
It is easy to input all of the symptoms and get a detailed info on disease your dog might be suffering from. It should be considered as a first step towards healing your dog. It is not (yet) to replace the vet, but the future is around the corner, and with more technologies on their way, or already here, DoggyDoc will become even better at telling you when your pet is in need of some special care, and what you can do about it. It is there to help you, your dog and the vet towards a faster healing.
When at the vet?
Please give a thorough history of your pets health, remember the time when the symptoms started, as well as all of the symptoms displayed. Vet will do a thorough medical checkup, including blood and urine screens
How about the treatment options?
At the moment, they include bi-daily insulin injections, changes in the diet and exercise, which will lead to lowering body mass of the dog, and easing of the diabetes burden.
Nelson RW and Reusch CE; ANIMAL MODELS OF DISEASE: Classification and etiology of diabetes in dogs and cats. J Endocrinology, 2014
American Diabetes Association: Standards of medical care in diabetes- Diabetes Care, 2013
Watson PJ, Archer J, Roulois AJ, Scase TJ and Herrtage ME; Observational study of 14 cases of chronic pancreatitis in dogs. Veterinary Record, 2010