Dog Diabetes: Ask the Veterinarian

I thought we would do something different today.  We receive a lot of questions about canine diabetes mellitus, and it seems to be a commonly confused topic in veterinary medicine for pet owners.  Today I wanted to share with you a portion of a Q&A from our ask a vet service.  Additional topics were discussed, but for the purpose of this post, I have only included relevant information on diabetes.

Ask a vet a Question:

ask a vet a question, ask the vet, dog diabetesI have a seven-year old female miniature schnauzer Daisy. Over the past month, I have noticed her drinking more, asking to go out more–just to pee it seems, and she seems to be losing weight. She still has a strong appetite, and seems otherwise normal. I already went to the vet, and they thought it was probably a urinary tract infection and gave her antibiotics. We didn’t do the test because the vet thought it was pretty sure and money is tight, and the antibiotics were expensive enough. We finished the antibiotics but they didn’t seem to help any. What do you think could be wrong?

Vet Answers:

I am very suspicious that your dog may have a condition called diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a endocrine disease often called “sugar diabetes” because of the dog has an abnormally high blood and urine sugar levels. Diabetes arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the hormone that allow the body to use glucose, and in turn, when not enough insulin is produced, there is excessive glucose in the blood, and negative consequences happen.

The most common reason is that the cells of the pancreas that are responsible for insulin production, called beta cells, get destroyed. They usually get destroyed from chronic inflammation of the pancreas, such as flare ups with pancreatitis or chronic GI issues of many kinds. This is Type 1 DM, and is the most common type of DM in dogs, while Type II which arises from insulin resistance is very rare in the dog.

The common clinical signs are why I am suspicious this is what your pooch is suffering from. Increased thirst and urination are the most common signs. The miniature schnauzer is one of the most common breads that we see DM in, and females are more likely to suffer from it than males. The average age of onset is 7-9 years. Other signs are increased appetite and weight loss. This is because even though they are eating more, the body can’t effectively use the glucose because of low insulin levels, so they are in essence starving.

The diagnosis is fairly straight-forward. A significantly elevated fasting blood glucose count is your answer. Usually the urine also shows sugar and may even show ketones when the disease is more advanced. Getting a complete blood cell count, as well as a chemistry panel and a urine test (together should be around $150) is really best to give your vet a more comprehensive look at your pet’s health.

dog diabetes, ask the veterinarian, ask a vet, vet answers, ask a vet a questionIf Daisy is suffering from DM, treatment will likely involve injections of insulin to control her disease. Your vet can help you pick the type of insulin that will work best with Daisy. It may take some experimenting to find the best type and times to give it to her, but most dogs will require twice daily injections. Most dogs do tolerate the injections very well, as the needles are tiny.

In addition, you will need to change her food to a low-fat high-fiber food with complex carbohydrates. You can either cook her food at home, or pick up a prescription diet from her vet or a pet store that carries prescription diets. If her DM is very advanced, she may have to be hospitalized until she is stable. Hopefully that is not the case, as it sounds like she seems fairly normal otherwise and this has only been happening for about one month.

You can speak with your vet about whether you would like to do her blood sugar monitoring at the hospital or at home. With a little education and practice and if you don’t have a squeamish stomach at the site of a drop of blood, you may be able to monitor her blood sugar more easily at home. DM does require close monitoring, as too low or too high of blood sugar can be very dangerous and life threatening.

Dr. Jed

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March 3, 2011 at 00:02

Losing weight due to ATI? Could that actually happen?

March 3, 2011 at 00:02

UTI of course, sorry for the typo

Dr. Jed Schaible
March 3, 2011 at 10:14

Hi Jana,

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen weight loss companied by a UTI, not that it’s impossible. Certainly if it is severe or progressed into pyelonephritis, then weight loss is expected, as the animal is systemically ill.

For purposes of keeping the blog a reasonable length, I did cut out some of the interaction back and forth and the info on other diseases we discussed. The questions end up being so long I doubt there are many people other than the question asker that would want to filter through it all!

Thanks for commenting–when I got the first ATI email this morning I was scratching my head!

March 4, 2011 at 11:20

I would also consider Cushings disease, lots of water intake and output put us on the journey to Chushings.

Dr. Jed Schaible
March 4, 2011 at 11:33

Hi George,

I only included the diabetes discussion of this Q&A here, as our answers are very long and I was afraid they would be too lengthy for owners to wade through. Certainly Cushings, among other diseases, is considered for PU/PD, but I just wanted to discuss diabetes on our blog, as it seems to be a hot topic among pet owners. Also, with Cushing’s I have never seen weight loss, not that it can’t happen, but in twelve years, I haven’t seen it.

Luckily, basic bloodwork that would be done for diabetes would give you a good indicator if you can rule Cushing’s out or keep it on the drawing board.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

March 4, 2011 at 14:47

Do you have a preference on homemade or commercial foods assuming the owner is willing to spend the time or money either way? Homemade seems to be the way to go.

March 15, 2011 at 23:09

Hi Tracey,

If the pet parent can afford to prepare homemade diets (both time and money) while maintaining quality and consistency, homemade is almost always recommended. It’s just meeting those requirements that is difficult. Sorry for the delay in responding, and thanks for commenting.

April 15, 2011 at 12:56

what kind of dog do i have she was found …

April 15, 2011 at 12:59

she is 8 weeks old

April 21, 2011 at 12:53

Hi Lily, The link doesn’t seem to be working right now, but congrats on your newest family member! It is difficult to determine breed, especially just with a picture. It is really only an educated guess.

May 16, 2012 at 08:43

the best food on the market to date for the money is Natural Choice as it has NO Chemicals Fillers or By-Product in it & it has EVERY thing a dog or pupeips need it can be gotten at tractor supply or major pet stores the company has a program that if you save 10 bar codes from the bags & return them to the store you will get one free bag of equal value try it you & your dogs will like

May 18, 2012 at 03:12

when a cat is trying to get all of the junk in there trunk out an it doenst come out easily they strain an when they strain blood is a thing tht help push out an some blood is stuck to the feces but its normal just make sure hes drinking lots of water water helps them use the bathroom so just try tht good luck

April 29, 2011 at 19:24

Based on the symptoms described, DM sounds likely to me — been there! But I’m here to say that my dog has been diabetic for 3 years now and he’s doing fine. Blood testing may be tough for a small dog (I couldnt tell from the picture how large Daisy is). I use urine test strips twice a day and have never had a problem keeping his blood sugar on an even keel.

May 4, 2011 at 13:18

Hi Edie, Sorry I missed this one! I am glad to here that Frankie is well controlled. Did the shipment of insulin reach you refrigerated appropriately?

May 31, 2011 at 15:09

Thanks doc, my last poodle developed both diabetes and cushings, this is so valuable this information..

June 25, 2011 at 21:55

I see they’re saying now, officially and in the mainstream media, that diabetes can be cured by diet. They’ve been saying that for years, though, in the underground press, that and more too; some people say that cancer can be cured, or at the very least slowed down, by a sugar-free diet. A short time ago that would have been unthinkable, but so would the diabetes cure. We are indeed what we eat, apparently. How much more has been kept from us, I wonder?

January 31, 2012 at 07:40

Great Job

May 3, 2012 at 00:10

Straight after looking through your article ” Ask a vet a question | Online Vet Reviews Canine Diabetes | VetLIVE “, I ultimately made a decision to save it on Yahoo. This is certainly one wonderful data to discuss to my classmates and friends

June 19, 2012 at 22:11

Mange is skin mites, which need a specific meiitacdon to clear up. However missing fur patches could be a number of other things as a cause. Ringworm is one, and the treatment for that is different than mange.The vet can do a skin scraping of the area and look at it on a slide under a microscope to tell if it’s mange. If nothing shows up, they use a black light to check if it’s ringworm. If it’s not that, they try somethng else. But they CAN identify it. To be able to treat it effectively you need to first know what it is. Guessing won’t help and may make it harder to treat as you’re having the spot be on the cat for longer than it needs to be.References :

June 19, 2012 at 22:11

cats do not get mange .. dogs do. she could however have fleas..check the coat for small black pecks they ill be flea drnioppg .. its always a good idae to regularly frontline a cat that goes out and about .. you can buy frontline on line you don’t need to go to the vet..There is always the possblity that your cat has been in a fight and has lost the hair that way .. in which case I would take her to a vet .. if its that close to the eye you never know what damagae there might be.References :