Monitoring the diabetic dog: 1) Clinical signs, goals of therapy and techniques

Diagnosing and treating canine diabetes

source: Grant Petrie
In Practice vol 26 no 8, September 2004
starts p 411, 6 pages long

Diabetes mellitus is due to lack of insulin. Insulin helps with the synthesis of proteins, fatty acids and glycogen. Some hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, and progesterone, counteract insulin. High levels of blood glucose mean that the kidneys cannot cope, and glucose appears in urine, leading both to increased urination and increased thirst.

Dogs with diabetes tend to lose weight, despite being hungry. Owners can inject insulin and keep a diary to record weight, exercise and water consumption. Spaying bitches can help, as can tackling diseases that affect insulin levels. Owner diaries can be more important than tests. Water consumption of under 60 ml per kg daily is normal. When insulin levels are too high, dogs may be weak or overexcitable, and collapse into a coma. Dogs can also develop cataracts if glycaemic control is poor, and they can develop urine infections, or ketoacidosis with symptoms such as vomiting and weakness. Urine glucose testing has limitations, for example, different timing of tests in relation to insulin injections gives different results. Furthermore, glucose levels in urine are a poor indicator of levels in blood, so blood tests as measures of blood glucose concentration are important for taking decisions on how much insulin to give a dog, and to monitor glycaemic control.

The same dose can have different effects on individual dogs, so it is helpful to take serial glucose estimations to find out how a dose of a particular product affects a particular dog.