Diagnosing Diabetes in Dogs

Pet owners should look for symptoms of diabetes in their dog

Dogs who have diabetes will have changes in their behavior and in the way their system works. They may be excessively thirsty or show appetite changes like not wanting to eat or excessive hunger. May diabetic dogs do not play as they once did, but they sleep most of the time and seem very lethargic. They may also have a sweet smell to their breath and appear to be dehydrated.

Other symptoms of diabetes in dogs

Other diabetic symptoms are cataracts in the eyes or the dog seems to be going blind. Vomiting and urinary tract infections are other signs, as well as skin infections. Dog owners who see any of these signs in their pet should make a veterinary appointment as soon as possible.

How your vet will test your pet for diabetes

When you take your dog to your veterinarian, you will need to explain the signs of diabetes that you see, as well as the changes in your dog. Your pet will receive a physical exam with a blood test and urinalysis. Dogs usually have type 1 diabetes, and this means that they need insulin injections each day. If the disease is treated at the early stages, blood sugar levels can sometimes be controlled by changing the dog's diet and by adding more exercise.

The dog's urine is tested for sugar and ketones

A dog with diabetes is not able to digest food properly because his body does not produce enough insulin for proper digestion. Urine is tested because it will reveal sugar and ketones if the dog is diabetic. Non-diabetic dogs do not have these substances in their urine.

Diabetic dogs need to be treated as soon as possible

If the urine tests positive for these substances, the dog must be treated or kidney disease, heart disease, or circulatory problems will develop. They will end up in death when these problems worsen. Pet owners can purchase urinalysis test kits so that they can test their dog's urine for sugar and ketones. This helps them monitor sugar levels and to know whether the diabetes is under control.

A blood test tells the blood glucose level of the dog

The veterinarian will initially check the dog's blood for high blood sugar levels that point to diabetes. If the dog is diagnosed as being diabetic, the pet owner will need to learn to care for their pet. Treating diabetes in dogs is similar to treating it in humans. The dog will need to have daily blood sugar level testing with a blood glucose monitor. Most dogs also need to have insulin injections each day, usually at the time that they eat their meal.

Other steps that may be taken

Sometimes small meals are better for the diabetic dog, rather than one large meal, but the vet helps the pet owner establish a diabetes diet plan for the dog. Increased exercise is also important because it helps lower glucose in the dog's body.

Photo by John Nyboer

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