Do you have a dog in your house? If you are living with a four-legged companion, you need to take good care of him. Besides the usual things you do to take care of your dog every day, like food and exercise, you need to be aware of the possible problems the animal might face. One of these issues could be diabetes mellitus. Not everyone is aware, but dogs may suffer from this disease. If you suspect your dog has diabetes, there are procedures you need to follow along with your veterinarian.
I think my dog has diabetes mellitus, what can I do?
First things first, contact your veterinarian. There is not much you can do from home; you need to get in contact with a specialist. Do not worry, tests are non-invasive and there is a treatment for diabetes.
Three tests are normally carried out if a dog presents symptoms of diabetes mellitus: a complete blood count (also known as CBC), a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis. The first two tests are done after taking a blood sample from your dog and the second one requires a urine sample. It won’t be painful to get the samples, so you don’t have to be afraid.
Do I have to get all the tests? Can’t I know if my dog has diabetes from elevated blood sugar alone?
The sure way to know if your dog has diabetes mellitus is checking his glucose levels in his or her blood and urine after a fast period. But even though you might know whether your dog is suffering from diabetes mellitus with one test, there is no way to be sure about the severity of the case without the other tests and their results. You also need to figure out what conditions lead to the case of diabetes and any complications that might result from the illness.
More often than not, adult dogs are the ones diagnosed with diabetes. There is a possibility that he may have other issues that need to be treated along with his diabetes. The tests will demonstrate whether any other conditions exist.
It is highly advisable to go through all the tests to rule out anything else and get a proper diagnose and treatment.
What will the Complete Blood Count test tell me about my dog?
The complete blood count test is done to evaluate three things: red blood cells, white blood cells and the platelet components of a blood sample. Red blood cells carry the oxygen around the dog’s body, white blood cells keep his immune system strong and the blood platelets are the cells that generate blood clots every time your dog is injured. It is very important information to check out.
If the diabetes mellitus case is not severe, these three elements will be shown to be in the normal range. However, a change in both red blood cells and white blood cells might appear in the results.
One of the problems that diabetic dogs face is dehydration. No matter how much water your dog might be drinking, he might be dehydrated. This problem does not make sense unless you take into account that one of the symptoms of diabetes is dilute urine. This means the water content in the urine is higher than usual and is not letting your dog absorb the levels of water it needs before discharging it. Dehydration can be spotted in a complete blood count test when there is an increase in the packed cell volume – or PCV, the proportion of cell volume that is occupied with red blood cells. It is also spotted when there is a red blood cell count that is higher than usual.
The complete blood count is also important for the information that shows the dog’s white blood cell count. An increment in white blood cells could mean that the dog’s immune system is trying to fight against infection. The most common infection in diabetic dogs is a urinary tract infection.
What can a Serum Biochemistry Profile show about my dog and a possible cause of diabetes?
One of the key elements that prove or disprove a possible case of diabetes mellitus is elevated serum glucose concentration, also known as high blood sugar. Whether a dog has high blood sugar or not is crucial for a diagnose. The issue with a serum biochemistry profile is that it requires a blood sample from your dog. Dogs usually get stressed when they have to visit a vet for a blood sample. A stressed dog can produce a high level of serum glucose concentration. A dog also could have elevated blood sugar after a meal. This means that your veterinary might need more than one blood sample, taken at different days, to have a true confirmation of a diabetes case.
Once they have taken multiple samples, you can check the results. A serum biochemistry profile will show the changes in serum electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. These three elements are vital in a dog’s day to day functions. They are in charge of maintaining proper hydration and nerve conduction, amongst other things. As we have said before, diabetic dogs may suffer from dehydration as a consequence of the large volume of dilute urine they might produce. Because of this, massive amounts of important electrolytes might get lost without fulfilling their function. A large number of wasted electrolytes can lead to rare but severe ailments in a dog.
Another result the serum biochemistry profile will show is related to enzymes ALT and AST that are important in the liver’s function. Mildly increased levels of these enzymes could be a consequence of liver damage happening because of dehydration.
If my dog has diabetes, what would the Urinalysis test say?
Just like elevated high sugar in blood samples, a tell-tale sign of diabetes mellitus in dogs is sugar found in urine samples. A healthy dog has no glucose in his urine. A urinalysis will tell whether a dog has any trace of sugar in his urine.
Dogs with glucose in their urine are common victims of urinary tract infections because their condition is ideal for bacteria growth. If bacterial presence is either suspected or identified within your dog’s urine sample, further studies need to be done to identify what type of bacteria is your dog hosting and how to treat the illness with antibiotics.
Another possible sign of diabetes in your dog will be shown when they consider whether your dog has a presence or absence of ketones in his urine. Ketones are produced when a dog has no carbohydrates as an energy source and has to resort to fat metabolism for energy. A diabetic dog has an inefficient use of carbohydrates as an energy source and produces ketones regardless of carbohydrate consumption.
If your dog has undergone both the serum biochemistry profile test and the urinalysis test, you will be able to tell if he has an elevated serum glucose concentration in his blood and glucose in his urine. If both things are positive, your dog has two major clinical signs that confirm a diabetes mellitus diagnosis.
My dog has tested positive for diabetes, what should I do now?
First things first, the dog needs to start a treatment to improve his condition. The dog will have to undergo insulin therapy. Once the treatment has started, you need to check your dog’s response to it. This is carried out by checking his blood glucose levels daily. The best way to do this implementing a glucose curve, where the day to day result of the dog’s blood or serum glucose is shown. Old ways to do this involved daily trips to the vet for blood samples, but this kind of treatment resulted in artificially elevated glucose results. Remember, dogs get stressed when they have to get a blood sample taken, and stress leads to high glucose levels.
Can you do this at home?
Nowadays you can check your dog’s glucose levels with a simple technological device. You can also do this at home by checking his urine, but it is not as reliable and should only be used as a complementary option.
Other things you need to be watching at home are the dog’s appetite, how much water is he drinking, his urine output and his energy levels. Any significant changes in his behavior might be a sign to change his insulin dosage, but you should tell your veterinary about this and never change the insulin dosage by yourself.
When your dog starts insulin therapy, frequent monitoring of blood glucose, with or without a urine glucose test, is indicated to adjust the insulin dosage given to your dog. Within a short timeframe, you will know the correct dosage for him.
Once the diabetes is under control, spot checks are recommended to see if there are trails of urine in his glucose.
If your dog is facing the possibility of having diabetes mellitus, don’t worry! It might seem like a lot at first, but you can get the disease under control easily. Even though he will need to get insulin for the rest of his life, it does not mean it won’t be a healthy and fun life!