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Diabetes in Dogs: Mellitus vs. Insipidus

Diabetes in Dogs: Mellitus vs. Insipidus

Canine diabetes is a serious problem that can affect your pet’s health and lifespan. S/he could be 1 in every 300 dogs that have diabetes. Diabetes is more common among dogs aged 4 to 14. Also, female dogs are more likely to be affected than males. More so, some breeds are at higher risk of developing canine diabetes, including Terriers, Dachshunds, Pomeranians, and Labrador Retrievers. While most fur parents are aware only of diabetes mellitus, or the problem caused by high blood sugar, there is actually another type, which is diabetes insipidus. This article will discuss these two types of diabetes and let you know how to detect them in your dog.


Diabetes Mellitus

First, let’s talk about canine diabetes mellitus. As mentioned, it is the more well-known and common type of diabetes characterized by excess glucose in the blood. This occurs when a dog’s pancreas has trouble producing enough insulin in response to elevated blood glucose. As a result, the blood glucose levels increase even further and eventually reach dangerous levels that can cause damage to other organs in the body. The primary symptoms of canine diabetes mellitus are similar to those of humans – increased thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, and weight loss. However, as with humans, these symptoms may sometimes be very subtle and can go unnoticed for a long time. Fortunately, canine diabetes mellitus can be treated and managed.


Types of canine diabetes mellitus

There are 3 types of canine diabetes mellitus. Type I is also called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, which is characterized by the inability of the dog’s body to produce any insulin at all. Type II is also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and occurs when the body makes insufficient insulin or cells resist its effects. Lastly, Type III is also known as gestational diabetes mellitus, which is associated with pregnancy in female dogs and is characterized by abnormally high blood sugar levels.


Diabetes Insipidus

In contrast, canine diabetes insipidus is a rare condition. It is caused by the body’s inability (or reduced ability) to secrete enough anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) in the urine to balance the body’s water. This leads to excessive urination that is difficult to control, followed by heavy thirst. Unlike diabetes mellitus, the symptoms of canine diabetes insipidus can usually be observed quite quickly. There are several treatment options available to help manage this condition and prevent any complications from occurring.


Forms of canine diabetes insipidus

Further, there are two forms of diabetes insipidus in dogs: central and nephrogenic. Central diabetes insipidus (CDI) is due to damage to the hypothalamus, leading to reduced ADH production and release into the blood. Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI), on the other hand, is caused by damage to the kidneys that impairs their ability to regulate ADH production.


Diagnosing Diabetes Mellitus and Insipidus

If you are concerned that your dog has either form of diabetes, your vet will usually recommend a physical exam, a urinalysis, and taking a blood sample. 

Canine diabetes mellitus can easily be diagnosed through a simple blood test measuring glucose levels in the blood. Diabetic dogs’ glucose levels are usually elevated compared to normal levels. On the other hand, tests conducted for dogs with diabetes insipidus will measure the level of ADH in the urine. An increased level of ADH in the urine indicates diabetes insipidus. However, a low urine level of ADH can also be a sign of another medical condition and should be further investigated to determine the cause. In some cases, measuring blood glucose levels can also help identify whether or not a dog has diabetes insipidus. Your vet may also conduct additional diagnostic tests to determine whether the dog has CDI or NDI.


Potential Complications of Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes in Dogs: Mellitus vs. Insipidus

A diabetic dog may experience various complications, some more common than others. These can include lethargy, poor body condition, cataracts in the eye, dehydration, infection of the skin or mouth, impaired healing of wounds, urinary tract infections, and cognitive dysfunction such as depression. As the disease progresses and becomes more severe, these symptoms may become more frequent and severe.

Since diabetes is a lifelong disease, the risk of developing these complications increases over time.

The good news is that there are treatments that aim to prevent or treat any complications associated with the disease. So, it is very important that a dog with diabetes receives regular veterinary examinations to monitor the disease’s progress and detect early signs of complications. This can help prevent further deterioration in your dog’s health and quality of life.


Management and Care of Diabetic Dogs

Sadly, there is no cure for canine diabetes. However, you can still control the signs and symptoms of diabetes. It is through proper management by a veterinarian and/or specially-trained dog care professional.

It is important to provide diabetic dogs with proper nutrition. This is to ensure they remain healthy and avoid complications associated with malnutrition. This should include providing high-quality food specially formulated to meet their nutritional needs while ensuring they receive adequate water to help prevent dehydration. Vets also recommend frequent exercise to help keep their muscles strong, prevent muscle loss, and promote better blood circulation. These measures can help reduce the risk of obesity and associated complications.


Final Reminder

You must work closely with your veterinarian or a specially trained dog care professional to determine an appropriate treatment plan for your dog. The earlier you catch diabetes in your dog, the better you can manage it and help him/her lead a normal, healthy life for as long as possible.

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