Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a hormonal problem where the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, the hormone that helps push sugar (“glucose”) into the body’s cells. Without the insulin, the body’s cells are starving for sugar; unfortunately, this then stimulates the body to produce more and more sugar (in an attempt to feed the cells). That’s why your dog’s blood sugar is so high (what we call a “hyperglycemia”) with diabetes mellitus.
Without insulin, the sugar can’t get into the cells; hence, why you need to give insulin to your dog with a tiny syringe twice a day. In dogs, this is a disease that can be costly to treat and requires twice-a-day insulin along with frequent veterinary visits for the rest of your dog’s life.
So how do you know if your dog has diabetes? Clinical signs of diabetes mellitus in dogs include:
- Excessive drinking
- Excessive urination
- Urinary accidents in the house
- Dilute urine
- Overweight or obese
- Muscle wasting
- Ravenous appetite
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Unkempt or poor hair coat
- Blindness secondary to cataracts
- Neuropathies (nerve problems)
As your dog gets older, it’s worth talking to your veterinarian about doing routine blood work to make sure your dog is healthy. This blood work will help rule out kidney and liver problems, anemia, infections, electrolyte problems and diabetes mellitus. The sooner you recognize the clinical signs, the sooner your dog can be treated with insulin and the less complications we see as a result.