Diabetes is a serious condition that affects the sufferer’s ability to regulate their blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are not controlled, the patient can become very unwell very quickly, suffering from a range of symptoms from shakiness and nausea to losing consciousness. This is known as hypoglycemia, and medical intervention is almost always necessary.
However, it may surprise you to know that diabetes is now one of the key health problems affecting dogs in the United States. The number of dogs being diagnosed with diabetes has tripled in the last 30 years and that number is set to continue to rise.
The risk of diabetes
Diabetes mainly affects dogs that are middle-aged or older, but certain breeds are more at risk than others. This includes Bichons, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Pomeranians and Terriers. However, mixed breeds are just as likely to develop diabetes. Females are also more likely to develop the condition due to hormonal changes when they go through a mating season.
Obesity has been closely linked to diabetes in humans and animals, and dogs are no exception. Overweight canines are significantly more likely to develop diabetes.
Preventing diabetes in dogs
Protecting your beloved canine companion from this serious condition should be one of your biggest priorities, and although there is no guarantee that your dog won’t become diabetic, there are things that you can do to reduce the risk of it happening.
Manage his weight
As stated above, weight has been found to be a serious contributor to canine diabetes. This is because obesity is thought to trigger changes in the patient’s metabolism, which can affect the natural ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
By helping your pet to maintain a healthy and steady weight, you not only give his body better control over his blood sugar levels, but you can also protect him from a variety of other health conditions including high blood pressure and arthritis.
The most efficient way to manage your dog’s weight is to ensure that he is eating a healthy, balanced and portion-controlled diet. Many owners believe that offering sugary snacks and human food is a nice treat for their dogs. Whilst we are sure Fido appreciates them, they rarely provide the best nutrition for your animal. Equally, far too many owners now “free-feed” rather than offer controlled portions, meaning that many animals end up being significantly over-fed.
If you need guidance on what and how much you should be feeding your pet, our veterinarian will be happy to advise you.
Although weight is predominantly decided by the diet that your dog eats, regular exercise should still be a crucial part of his routine. Not only does it help to burn off excess calories, and keep your pet healthy and toned, but it is also important for their mental stimulation.
The amount of exercise recommended for a canine depends largely on his size, age and breed, and our vet will be able to advise you on the optimum amount of exercise for your furry friend.
Spay your bitches
Female dogs are more likely to develop diabetes thanks to hormonal changes that occur when she is in season. Choosing to spay your bitch can reduce the likelihood of her developing diabetes, as well as protect her from unwanted pregnancy and some female cancers.
Visit our veterinarian regularly
Even the most eagle-eyed owner can sometimes fail to spot important health problems in their pets, thanks to their inability to tell us. By taking your dog for regular veterinary visits, their health can be effectively monitored by qualified, trained, experienced professionals. This means that any potential health problems, including diabetes, are more likely to be identified quickly before they cause your pooch too many problems.
If you are concerned about canine diabetes and would like further advice on the steps that you can take to help prevent the condition, contact and make an appointment with our veterinarian.