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Diabetes mellitus is a diseased state by which the body suffers from either an absolute shortage of insulin (Type I), or from an incorrect response from the cells to the insulin that is being produced, a condition termed insulin resistance (Type II). Both of these conditions will prevent the muscles and organs from converting glucose to energy, and will result in excessive amounts of glucose in the blood, which is also referred to as hyperglycemia.
Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism caused by an absolute or relative insulin deficiency. Metabolism refers to how the body digests and uses food for growth and energy, and this process is largely dependent on a sufficient amount of insulin in the body.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas, releasing into the cells in response to the digestive conversion of proteins into glucose in the bloodstream. Much of the food that is ingested is broken down into glucose, a type of sugar in the blood and one of the body's main sources of energy. Appropriate insulin function will trigger the liver and muscles to take up glucose from the blood cells, converting it to energy.
Diabetes, a common condition for humans, is also relatively common in domestic animals like dogs. Type I diabetes is the more severe form of the disease, as it is dependent on daily insulin injections for maintaining blood sugar balance (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus – IDDM).
An affected dog will be hungry a lot of the time, since glucose is not making it to the brain; glucose levels in the brain are too low for the brain to register that it is receiving food. Because insulin is not giving the muscles and organs the signal to convert glucose to energy, the excess glucose in the blood will be carried out of the body in urine instead of being used for energy, and there will be a concurrent lack of energy. There is also increased thirst as a result of the increase in urine. The liver is adversely affected by this condition, as are the eyes and kidneys.
At heightened risk are obese dogs and female dogs. While many cases of diabetes are seen in older dogs, it can occur at any age.
Symptoms and Types
Weight loss even with normal appetite
Anorexia – complete loss of appetite
Lethargy and depression
Development of Ketoacidosis – metabolic acidosis caused by the breakdown of fat and proteins in the liver in response to insulin deficiency