Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Dogs

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a condition that typically occurs in dogs with severe, untreated diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition that occurs when your dog's body fails to produce adequate amounts of the hormone insulin, responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life threatening condition that can occur in dogs that have recently developed diabetes, and it may also occur in dogs who have been living with diabetes for some time.

Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Dogs

Many of the symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis are the same as the symptoms of diabetes. Increased thirst, increased urination, sudden vision loss or blindness, and weight loss with no reduction in appetite can point to diabetic ketoacidosis. Your dog may also suffer from weakness, vomiting, dehydration and lethargy. A sure sign that your dog is suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis is a powerful aroma of acetone on the breath (acetone smells like nail polish remover).

Diagnosing Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Dogs

The vet will need your dog's complete medical history and a thorough physical exam to diagnose diabetic ketoacidosis. The vet will test the dog's blood and urine to check his blood sugar and insulin levels. Your vet may perform other tests to determine if the dog is suffering from a secondary infection. Ultrasounds, X-rays and endocrinology tests can may be necessary to determine if your dog is suffering from major organ disease, tumors or hyperadrenocorticism, conditions that can complicate your dog's diabetes and make its treatment more difficult.

Treating Diabetic Ketoacidosis in Dogs

Treatment for canine diabetic ketoacidosis depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, IV therapy and insulin injections can correct the problem. In more severe cases, complications such as anemia, kidney infection, brain swelling and pancreatitis can occur. These conditions can require aggressive therapy in order to ensure the dog's survival.

If your dog is diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis, that means he has diabetes and will need treatment for the rest of his life. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition with no cure. It carries significant complications and can be life threatening. With treatment, however, most dogs manage to live successful, healthy lives with diabetes. 

Diabetes in dogs is usually controlled with regular insulin shots. Your dog may also need to adhere to special dietary conditions, especially if he is overweight. You will need to monitor your dog's blood sugar carefully so that you can help keep him within normal ranges using insulin therapy and diet.

If your overweight dog develops diabetes, you'll need to control his weight to improve his health. Speak to your vet before putting your diabetic dog on a diet, since dogs with diabetes usually need to eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels stable. Ask the vet's advice about exercising your overweight dog as well, since exertion can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar levels.