You probably know a human or two that has diabetes, but did you know that dogs can have the condition as well? It works much the same way in both humans in dogs: with Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce any insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the body produces a smaller amount of insulin and/or the body's cells have trouble reacting to insulin. While type 2 diabetes is far more common in humans, type 1 diabetes is more common in dogs.
What Causes Type 1 Diabetes in Dogs?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce the insulin that your dog's body needs to break down sugar in his or her blood. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but there are a few risk factors that seem to contribute to the condition in dogs. They include:
- Obesity--- Dogs that are overweight or obese are more likely to get diabetes.
- Age--- Dogs become more likely to get the condition as they age.
- Gender--- Unneutered male dogs are less likely to get diabetes than neutered male dogs and female dogs.
- High-Fat Diet--- A poor diet can contribute to the condition, even if the dog is not overweight.
What Are the Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes in Dogs?
Possible symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased or decreased hunger
- Increased thirst and urination
- Sweet-smelling breath
- Recurring skin infections
- Weight loss
How is Type 1 Diabetes Treated in Dogs?
Treatment for the condition will depend on how severe the condition is in your dog. If the dog's condition is tame, an oral medication may be sufficient to regulate his or her blood sugar. However, the majority of dogs will need insulin injections to properly treat diabetes. The exact dosage for your dog will depend on his or her weight, but your vet or a specialist at an animal hospital should explain how often your dog needs the injections and teach you how to administer them at home. Most likely, your dog will need an insulin injection once or twice a day.
How Can You Get Your Dog Used to Insulin Injections?
Insulin injections will be a big change in routine, especially for a dog that is not used to getting shots. The most important thing to remember in order to keep your dog comfortable is to stay calm. If you are freaked out or panicked, your dog will pick up on that and be anxious. Practice loading and administering the syringe away from your dog until you are sure you can do it correctly.
When you are ready to give the shot, put the needle in your pocket so that the dog will not see it and call him or her over to you. Pet your dog until he or she is relaxed and take the needle in your hand, making sure that your dog cannot see it. Continue to pet the dog as you give the injection; the needle is so small that your dog will probably barely feel it! If done correctly, your dog should stay relaxed and the insulin injection should become a part of his or her regular routine.
How Can You Prevent Type 1 Diabetes in Your Dog?
The biggest way to lower your dog's risk of Type 1 Diabetes is to keep his or her weight low. Don't continue to refill your dog's food each time he or she eats it- instead, you should have set times each morning and evening that your dog gets fed. Also, you should make sure that your dog is getting plenty of exercise; if he or she tends to sit around the house or yard a lot, add a walk to your daily routine to get your dog on the move.