Annual wellness visits to the vet may be a routine feature for you; still it is important to recognise symptoms of a few common diseases in between so as to take immediate steps to bring it to the notice of your vet. One such disease is diabetes which is unfortunately becoming vastly common in dogs these days. The good news is that early detection of diabetes not only ensures a normal healthy life and lifespan of your dog, but also helps your pet manage it much better. Even though a few symptoms of diabetes can overlap with symptoms of kidney and liver disease, still any of these symptoms need immediate consultation by your vet. Let us know what they are.
More frequent peeing by your dog- This is one of the most common and initial symptoms that your dog could be diabetic. Increased urination or polyuria, in the language of the veterinarians, is caused by blood sugar spilling from the bloodstream into the urine. Actually, there is a renal threshold where the kidney can no longer filter glucose fast enough to keep it in the blood. This is when it leaks into the urine and pulls water with it, resulting in your dog beginning to urinate more and more.
Increased thirst- This is linked to the first symptom that is polyuria. As your dog begins to urinate more and more, they start to become dehydrated. This is why they drink larger and larger amounts of water to keep up. If you notice both increase thirst and increased urination by your dog, you need to get alert and take him to the vet.
Increased appetite- Diabetes not only causes increased thirst and urination but may develop a ravenous appetite too. This is attributed to an imbalance of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas to help control blood sugar. The lack of insulin in body confuses it so that it cannot perceive that it already has enough glucose. The body thinks that it is starving and so the dog is always trying to eat.
Losing weight- Any kind of unexplained weight loss which can start gradually or suddenly, coupled with a normal or increased appetite could be a sign for diabetes. This is because the insulin level is low and it is not working to get glucose into the brain, heart and other essential organs for energy. The body then starts to break down muscle and fat to use those protein and fat for normal functioning of the system. This breakdown of muscles leads to weight loss.
Cloudy eyes- Most dogs with diabetes mellitus eventually develop some degree of cataract. One of the most long term complications seen in diabetic dogs is cataract. So if you notice that you dog’s eyes look cloudy or they are showing symptoms of decreased vision, chances are they are diabetic. The reason for cloudy eyes is because water enters the eye lens and causes distortion of the fibers blocking light from passing through. In a healthy dog, the lens absorbs glucose from the eye fluid and coverts the excess into sorbitol. When the glucose level is high, a larger amount of sorbitol is produced which has a strong pull on water.
Coat and skin appear to be lacklustre- When diabetes goes unnoticed and untreated, it adversely affects the quality of skin and the dog may have dry, scaly skin with dandruff. This is because the body is not getting enough insulin and the dog is becoming chronically dehydrated from the increased water loss in the urine. Their haircoat thus tends to lose lustre and thin out. These conditions improve with insulin therapy because the depleted nutrition is now taken care of to maintain healthy organ function as well as healthy fur.
Continuous tiredness- Loss of energy due to decreased insulin levels in body leaves the dog to tire fast. They might lose interest in all activities and choose to lie down and rest most of the time. This is because sugar is trapped in the bloodstream and cannot enter the tissue thereby depriving the body of the necessary glucose to break down into energy. High blood sugar can also cause electrolyte imbalances including low sodium, low potassium and low phosphorus making the nerves not fire normally.
If you notice one or more of the above symptoms, it is best to consult your vet who will perform a blood test to diagnose if your dog is diabetic. Early detection helps to start with medications and cause no damage to the organs which might happen if diabetes is left untreated for long. It is good to be an alert pet parent to let your dog enjoy the bliss of a happy and healthy life. Take care!