Just like humans, dogs can suffer from diabetes. But, are their symptoms the same? How do you treat diabetes in senior dogs? Researchers estimate one in 200 dogs suffer from diabetes. While this disease is not curable, treatments are improving, increasing the life span of dogs with diabetes.
Risk Factors: Just because your pet may identify with some of the risk factors in this list doesn’t mean he or she will definitely have diabetes. These factors are just the most common identifiers when comparing statistics for dogs with diabetes. Some of the risk factors for diabetes include: age, weight and a high-fat diet. Older dogs (as well as obese dogs) are more commonly diagnosed with diabetes. If your senior dog fits in any, or more than one, of these categories, read on to learn more about the symptoms of diabetes.
Symptoms: If your dog shows signs of any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately to determine if your dog is suffering from diabetes or any other potential illnesses.
- Increased thirst and increased urination: This is a very vague symptom and could be a sign of an illness or condition other than diabetes. Increased thirst and urination is not normal for a healthy, trained dog and should be checked as soon as possible by your dog’s veterinarian. Bring a urine sample if at all possible to share with your veterinarian.
- Obesity: Increased weight affects your dog’s blood and sugar cells which may lead to diabetes in senior dogs.
- Increased appetite and weight loss: These don’t necessarily go paw-in-paw for diabetes, but an increased appetite coupled with weight loss could signify your dog is suffering from diabetes. If the glucose or sugar is not functioning efficiently in your dog’s body, your pet may feel like they are being starved of essential nutrients which creates the excess hunger and simultaneous weight loss.
- Lethargy and increased sleepiness: Just like in humans, if dogs don’t maintain their appropriate blood sugar levels, they will feel more tired and have less energy for your daily run or play time.
- Vision problems: You may notice vision problems when playing fetch if your dog can’t quite catch or find the ball like they used to or occasionally misses some corners and hits a wall instead of making it through your doorway. This is another symptom that is not specific to diabetes in senior dogs, but is something that should be checked by your dog’s veterinarian as soon as you start noticing any issues.
- Breed: Statistically, some breeds have proven more susceptible to diabetes in senior dogs including: Keeshond, Puli, Cairn Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Poodle, Samoyed, and Schnauzer. This list varies between sources and, of course, does not mean if you have one of these breeds that they will end up with diabetes.
Lastly, diabetes could be found simply during regular bloodwork or checkups without showing any signs or symptoms. Don’t skimp on your senior dog’s veterinarian visits!
Treatment: Diabetes treatment will vary depending on the severity of the disease as determined by your veterinarian. With any of these treatments, it is best if you keep weekly, or even daily records of your pet’s progress. Some potential treatments include:
- Increased Exercise and Adjusted Diet: Discuss your pet’s exercise and diet with your veterinarian to find the right fit for your dog’s needs and lifestyle. Changes may start slowing and gradually adjust as your dog’s health improves.
- Home Monitoring: If caught early on, your veterinarian may instruct you on how to conduct home tests to monitor your dog’s blood and glucose levels. This includes regularly weighing your pet, watching for diabetes symptoms and possibly conducting in-home blood glucose level tests.
- Insulin Injections: If needed, your veterinarian will prescribe your pet insulin. Insulins vary, and this process may require some experimentation to determine which works best for your dog’s body and health. Depending on your dog’s size and the severity of their diabetes, injections may need to take place once or twice a day.
For more in-depth articles, PetMD and The Whole Dog Journal provide educational articles that serve as great resources. Diabetes is manageable and, once stabilized, your diabetic senior dog can still live a long, happy life by your side!
The Old Dog House is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Jacksonville, Florida, dedicated to giving older and senior dogs a second chance at a new life. At so many shelters, the age of a dog determines its chances of reaching the adoption floor to find a new forever home.As a result, many wonderful dogs are denied the ability to live out their lives in dignity, surrounded by love. The Old Dog House aims to enlighten the public to the joys of owning an older or senior dog through educational programs and to place rescued dogs into true forever homes through adoption programs. The dogs that come into the care of The Old Dog House will remain in our care until adopted. We rely solely on donations from the public to support our organization. 100% of donations received are used for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs at The Old Dog House. Every penny makes a difference and is greatly appreciated!