Signs Your Dog With Diabetes Is Dying
Diabetes is a serious condition that our canine friends can fall victim to. Similar to you and I, diabetes has the ability to deeply impact a dog’s life, especially when it is no longer easily managed. So how do you know when your dog with diabetes is dying?
In this article we will discuss the details of diabetes in dogs, and help you better understand the stages of this metabolic disease.
What Is Canine Diabetes?
Just like humans, dogs can get diabetes. Canine diabetes develops when a dog does not produce insulin at a normal rate, resulting in dysregulation within the body. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels and glucose absorption in our furry friends, which helps our dogs sustain energy throughout the day.
When insulin is not produced the way it should be, this causes the body to produce more and more glucose. When there is no “filter” for a dog’s glucose levels, this will cause a buildup of glucose within the bloodstream. This can not only lead to uncomfortable symptoms for the dog affected, but serious health complications in the future.
Most often, a dog will develop diabetes due to the insufficient functioning of the pancreas. One of the main roles of the pancreas is to produce insulin, resulting in diabetes mellitus if it is not performing as it should. While it is less common, dogs can develop diabetes as a secondary complication to prescribed medications or chronic medical conditions.
Symptoms Of Diabetes In Dogs
If you are wondering if your dog has diabetes, there are a few common signs to watch for. While these symptoms will vary based on how progressed your dog’s condition is, canine diabetes often leads to the following symptoms.
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Accidents around the house
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss
- Chronic UTI’s
- Changes in vision
- Cloudy appearance of the eyes
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your canine companion, it’s time to contact your veterinarian. These issues can be signs of developing diabetes in your pup, along with other possible complications.
Dogs Who Have A Higher Risk Of Diabetes
While every pup can fall victim to this condition, there are some dogs that have a higher risk of developing diabetes than others. Understanding the potential triggers of this condition can help you better protect your dog going forward, and be aware of the developing illness when it occurs.
Some factors known to make a dog more “high risk” for developing diabetes include:
- Obesity: Just like in humans, obesity can make a dog more susceptible to developing diabetes down the line. This may be due to the potential damage obesity can have on the pancreas due to the potential of chronic pancreatitis.
- Age: Diabetes can occur in a dog of any age, but it is most common in dogs that are 5 years and older.
- Pancreatitis: The pancreas plays a main role in insulin production, meaning any damage to this organ can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Pancreatitis leads to severe inflammation of the pancreas and the potential for organ damage over time.
- Sex: Intact female dogs are twice as likely to develop diabetes than males.
- Long term steroid use: Dogs that are taking steroids for long periods are more prone to developing diabetes. This is why it is so important to keep up with recommended exams when taking any long term medications.
- Chronic health conditions: Health conditions like Cushing’s disease, autoimmune disorders, and even infections can lead to diabetes in some dogs.
- Breed: Any breed of dog can develop diabetes, but there are a few breeds that are most at risk. Some high risk breeds include Pugs, Beagles, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Schnauzers, Keeshonds, Dachshunds, and many Terrier breeds.
Not all of these triggers can be avoided, but many can with simple changes of behavior. By keeping your pup at a healthy weight range, you can eliminate a few potential factors on the list. Always try your best to offer your pup a quality diet, avoid offering any table scraps, and keep up with yearly veterinary exams.
Other Complications Caused By Diabetes
Blood sugar is not the only thing affected in dogs with unmanaged diabetes. Diabetes can cause serious health complications when it is not managed properly, ranging from minor concerns to life threatening issues.
Cataracts: About 75% of all dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts. Cataracts cause a cloudiness to develop within the lens of the eye, often leading to changes in vision or blindness if they are not corrected. Due to this, you should always speak to your vet about preventing cataracts if your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA): DKA is a severe complication in diabetic dogs. When the canine body is unable to gain access to glucose, it will begin to break down the storage of fats within the body. This occurrence leads to the production of ketones, which are essentially toxic to the body. If DKA is not addressed, dogs will begin to experience severe symptoms ranging from acute vomiting to neurological symptoms. This is usually seen in the final stages of diabetes, and is a sign that your dog’s condition is currently unmanaged (if it is currently being treated). DKA either requires aggressive medical treatment, or euthanasia if the owners are unable to treat.
Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia is a diabetic complication that involves a dog receiving too much insulin. Insulin helps to regulate the blood glucose levels, meaning too much insulin can cause it to drop to dangerous levels. A dog with a low blood sugar may experience lethargy, unsteady gait, weakness, trembling, collapse, and even seizures. Hypoglycemia is a life threatening condition that needs to be addressed immediately.
Treatment Options For Canine Diabetes
There is no instant cure for diabetes in dogs, but it can be managed when maintaining a close relationship with your vet. Dogs with diabetes mellitus will require a twice daily injection of insulin that is tailored to fit their needs, along with an approved diet that remains consistent throughout their lives. Most dogs will need to participate in a glucose curve in order to find the best dose for them, as it is not a one size fits all approach.
The most important part of managing a dog with diabetes is staying consistent. Any change in diet or insulin routine can cause a major setback for your pup, leading to serious complications in some cases. It’s also important to keep your vet in the loop about all changes in routine or health, as this can significantly impact their diabetic treatment.
Dog Diabetes Life Expectancy
So how long can a dog live with diabetes? The answer will vary based on how consistent the owner can be with treatment, as well as how early the condition was detected.
When a diabetic dog is receiving daily insulin injections and following an approved diet, these pups have the chance at a long and healthy life. Some experts even state that diabetic dogs can have a normal life span if their condition is properly managed, giving many pet owners hope for a wonderful future.
Just like any other medical condition, following the guidelines that are set by your veterinarian will help your pup live a full life. If you try your best to stick to an approved routine, you are offering your dog everything they could need.
However, there are a few factors that can affect a diabetic dog’s life expectancy. First, if you are unable to manage your dog’s condition with daily insulin, your pup will likely decline rapidly. A dog that does not receive treatment for their diabetes will eventually go into DKA, which is a serious condition that eventually leads to death. If you do not want to treat your pup once they are diagnosed with diabetes, you can expect most dogs to pass within 2-8 months. Dogs with untreated diabetes will often stop eating, lose significant weight, become weak, and eventually pass due to their complications.
If you do not discover that your dog is diabetic until they have DKA, this can make their prognosis a bit more challenging to determine. Dogs in DKA will require aggressive care to survive the ordeal, often involving days in the hospital. If your dog does make it through their diabetic crisis, they have a chance at being well managed going forward.
When To Euthanize A Dog With Diabetes
If you are struggling with saying goodbye to your diabetic dog, there are a few signs that can point to their potential suffering. Unmanaged or untreated diabetes can cause many complications for our furry friends, leading to a long list of uncomfortable symptoms.
It may be time to say goodbye to your diabetic dog if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Chronic vomiting
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Disinterest in things they once enjoyed
- Chronic diarrhea
- Urinating around the house
- Constant UTI’s
- Neurological symptoms
If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be time to discuss quality of life with your veterinarian.
Diabetes in dogs is a serious medical condition that requires extra care. Be sure to review the information that we discuss above, and you can best help your diabetic pup going forward.
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.