Canine Diabetes Diagnosis

Canine diabetes is a condition where the dog’s pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin to effectively process the foods the dog eats. Because the food isn’t processed appropriately, it is unable to pass into the cells where it can be utilized, causing an excess of sugars to be passed into the bloodstream. Common symptoms of diabetes are extreme thirst, increased urination, ravenous hunger and weight loss. As the disease progresses, almost every system in the dog’s body can be impacted. If you suspect your dog may have diabetes, it is important to get him to a veterinarian for testing, diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.

Diagnosing Canine Diabetes

  1. The first step in diagnosis is careful explanation of your dog’s symptoms to the veterinarian. Because diabetes symptoms can also indicate other diseases, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination to determine if any of your dog’s systems, such as heart, eyes or kidneys have been impacted.
  2. The veterinarian may opt to conduct a urinalysis to determine if your dog is passing high levels of sugars into his urine. This is typically done by collecting a urine sample and dipping a paper strip coated with chemicals into the urine. The paper strip changes colors based upon the amount of sugar in the urine.
  3. The veterinarian will want to confirm the urinalysis with blood work if glucose levels are elevated in your dog’s urine sample. The blood work will tell him if there is a high glucose concentration in his blood. The blood work will require blood being drawn from a vein and processed.
  4. Additional tests may be run on the blood and urine samples once the diagnosis of diabetes has been confirmed. The urine may be tested for protein presence. This indicates whether the diabetes has begun to break down muscle tissue in order to provide nutrients for your dog’s body. Your veterinarian may also want to conduct a hemoglobin A1c test on the blood to help him determine how long your dog’s blood sugars have been elevated. The blood may also be tested to determine if your dog’s kidney function has been impacted and how much function is left.

Treatment for Diabetes in Dogs

Treating a diabetic dog involves a combination of medication, food and exercise. Finding an appropriate balance is key to controlling his diabetes and preventing complications.

  • Medication - An insulin preparation will be prescribed for your dog and involves giving your dog injections at home.
  • Food – A low protein dog food is recommended for diabetic dogs in order to minimize the strain put on the kidneys and to protect his kidney function.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise is recommended for the diabetic dog in order to help maintain his diabetic control.

Diagnosing canine diabetes early on in the disease is important to preventing damage to your dog’s body. Once diagnosis is complete and your dog is regulated on his medication, food and exercise, living with the diabetic dog will become a part of your daily routine. With a little effort on your part, your dog can live a long, healthy life as a diabetic.