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Diabetes mellitus - this is the full name of the metabolic disorder - is differentiated in humans and dogs in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is caused by an absolute or relative lack of insulin, the result is always an increase in blood sugar levels.
If the sugar in the blood is permanently increased, organ damage can result. It is therefore important to know the causes of diabetes in dogs and to know what symptoms indicate in order to start treatment as early as possible.
Dog with type 1 diabetes: cause insulin deficiency
Your dog has type 1 diabetes mellitus when his pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for pulling sugar (glucose) out of the blood and transporting it to the body's cells. There the nutrient is converted into energy, which is essential for healthy body function. If too little insulin is produced, not enough sugar is drawn from the blood - the blood sugar level rises and diabetes develops.
Occurrence of type 1 diabetes in dogs
Unlike humans, this type of diabetes is the most common in dogs. The causes presumably lie in a genetic, i.e. innate predisposition. However, pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer can also cause your dog to develop diabetes mellitus and no longer produce enough insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes: what happens in the dog's body?
If your dog suffers from type 2 diabetes mellitus, his pancreas does produce insulin, but the amount is not sufficient to supply all body cells with energy - or in principle enough of the hormone is produced, but it does not work properly. We are then talking about a relative insulin deficiency, since the substance is not absent, that is to say is fundamentally absent, but is not available enough compared to the need. Dogs very rarely develop this form of diabetes and are very different from humans.
Diabetes in type 2 dogs: risk factors
The exact causes of diabetes in dogs have not yet been unequivocally researched, but it is suspected in type 2 that - like in humans - overweight plays a central role in the development. Furthermore, certain hormonal disorders such as Cushing's syndrome or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) are among the risk factors for diabetes in dogs. You can at least avoid being overweight in your four-legged friend and thus prevent the risk of diabetes. Pay attention to a balanced, species-appropriate dog nutrition and sufficient exercise.
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In-heat diabetes in bitches
Another peculiarity regarding diabetes mellitus in the four-legged friends is that mostly bitches get it. The reason for this is the so-called incipient diabetes - it only affects females who regularly go through their cycle phases and have not been neutered. The reason for this is the hormone progesterone; it prepares the uterus for the fertilized eggs to nest in it. In addition, the fertilized egg cells are protected by progesterone during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the hormone prevents insulin from transporting the sugar from the blood to the body's cells. As a result, your dog gets diabetes.
Not only pregnant dog ladies produce progesterone, but also bitches in heat. That is, strictly speaking, the hormone is only produced after it is in heat, in the cycle phase called metestrus. Now the question arises, why not all uncastrated bitches get diabetes? This is because insulin production is boosted in this phase to make up for it. Most of the time it works, but sometimes it doesn't. With a little luck, however, the diabetes mellitus is only temporary, only in some cases does it become a chronic insulin deficiency. Therefore, consider whether you would prefer to have your bitch neutered to prevent this.
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Symptoms of diabetes in dogs
The earlier diabetes is recognized and treated in dogs, the better. Therefore, you should be very vigilant about changes in your four-legged friend. These symptoms can indicate diabetes:
● Increased urge to urinate: The increased blood sugar level causes sugar molecules to pass into the urine and withdraw water from the body. This will make your dog with diabetes pee more often than usual.
● Strong thirst: Since water is withdrawn from the body, your four-legged friend tries to compensate for this with increased fluid intake.
● Visual disturbances up to blindness: The elevated blood sugar level damages the retinal blood vessels in the dog's eyes.
● loss in weight despite increased eating or due to loss of appetite.
● Also one increase in weight is possible. Your dog's metabolism is disturbed in diabetes.
● Listlessness and lethargy: Diabetes in dogs prevents the body from being supplied with sufficient energy.
● listlessness, apathy up to depressions.
● Pain in the abdomen
In some animals, there is weakness in the hind legs and poor wound healing, which is due to the increased blood sugar level. Have your dog examined by the veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect diabetes. If the blood sugar rises too high, it can lead to a shock, which in the worst case can cause the dog to fall into a coma.