As a dog owner, it can be difficult to deal with your dog having a disease, especially if it is an incurable one, like canine diabetes. You will have to start looking into treatment and its cost, the most suitable kinds of food to give a diabetic dog, and the average life expectancy of a dog with diabetes. A common concern for many owners is whether euthanasia should be an option.
Unless your pooch has other diabetes-related health complications and/or is very old, it might not be necessary to put down your dog. Before you consider euthanasia as an option, consult with your vet about potential complications, the effectiveness of treatment, and your dog’s life expectancy with diabetes.
The Average Lifespan of a Dog with Diabetes
The life expectancy of a diabetic dog receiving proper care and treatment is similar to that of a healthy dog. Even though diabetes is incurable, it is treatable, which means that an afflicted dog can enjoy a normal life span.
How Long Can Dogs Live with Untreated Diabetes?
If left untreated, it is impossible to tell how long a diabetic dog will live. It could be anywhere from a few months to several years. What you can be sure of is that your pooch will endure a lot of pain and suffering until his untimely death as a result of symptoms such as weight loss, frequent urination, vision impairment (and eventual blindness), and heart problems, to mention a few.
Will Diabetes Kill My Dog?
If diabetes is left untreated in dogs, it can lead to complications such as malnutrition, dehydration, ketoacidosis, increasing weakness in legs (neuropathy), cataracts, and eventual death. With proper treatment, your dog can lead a normal life.
Can a Diabetic Dog Survive without Insulin?
In most cases of diabetes in dogs, injecting insulin is the recommended treatment. Dogs that have diabetes mellitus usually require two daily insulin injections, in addition to a dietary change. Although a dog may be able to go a day or two without insulin, this should not be the norm; treatment should be regarded as part of a diabetic dog’s daily routine.
Other treatment options for managing diabetes in dogs have proven to be less than effective. At one point, oral hyperglycemic agents were believed to be effective at treating canine diabetes as they could lower blood glucose, but this wasn’t the case.
The main reason why insulin is a necessary part of treatment for canine diabetes is the fact that canines almost always suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes. This simply means that the pancreas is unable to secrete enough insulin to effectively regulate blood glucose levels.
Do Dogs with Diabetes Sleep More?
Diabetes drains a lot of vital energy from your four-legged friend. You may notice that your dog is more lethargic and sleeps much longer than usual. This is a telling symptom, and if you are yet to get a diagnosis, it may be worth taking your dog to the vet for a check-up just to be sure.
Are Dogs with Diabetes in Pain?
A diabetic dog may not be in pain, but the accompanying symptoms can cause a lot of suffering. Symptoms to look out for include:
Due to excessive fluid loss, diabetic dogs compensate by drinking much more water than usual.
You may notice that your dog wants to go out to pee more frequently, and may even have “accidents” in the house. This occurs as a result of the dog’s body trying to eliminate excess sugar by sending it out through urine.
Your dog may want to eat all the time because the body’s cells aren’t receiving glucose from meals.
Despite eating standard portions, your dog can lose weight because their nutrients aren’t being efficiently converted
Urinary Tract Infections
As a result of increased frequency in peeing, a diabetic dog may develop a urinary tract infection.
Excess glucose production can cause a sweet scent of a dog’s breath.
In more advanced cases of canine diabetes, symptoms can also include:
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Kidney failure
- Ketoacidosis. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that is accompanied by lethargy, dehydration, and sweet-smelling breath. In diabetic dogs, it is triggered by factors such as stress, infections, and underlying health conditions.
Will a Dog with Diabetes Go Blind?
Cataracts are a common complication of diabetes that can lead to blindness. It is estimated that around 75% of diabetic dogs go blind from cataracts within a year of showing symptoms. Cataracts can form very quickly in diabetic dogs, sometimes in as little time as a couple of weeks.
If cataracts have started to develop in your dog’s eyes, you may want to consider surgery to get rid of them to prevent blindness. Cataract surgery can be performed after your canine’s blood sugar levels stabilize, which normally takes around three months. Almost three-quarters of all dogs that undergo this surgery regain their sight.
Can a Dog with Diabetes Get Cured?
Unfortunately, canine diabetes has no cure. However, the condition can usually be managed with treatment, a proper diet, and care and a dog can still live a full and happy life.
How to Treat a Dog with Diabetes Naturally?
To provide support to the immune system of your diabetes-afflicted canine, try giving high-quality multivitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vitamin E has been proven to slightly lower the need for insulin in humans, so it may be worth adding this supplement to your dog’s diet.
Essential fatty acids, specifically Omega 3, have been proven to enhance glucose metabolism as well as reduce the risk of secondary cardiovascular problems that are associated with diabetes.
Acupuncture can also be a great natural secondary treatment for diabetic canines as long as it is administered by a qualified practitioner.
How Long Does it Take to Stabilize a Dog with Diabetes?
Because each case is unique, there is no way to determine a specific time it will take to stabilize a diabetic dog. Sometimes the stabilization process will require that you try different diets, insulin dosages, or injection frequencies. Stabilization can be achieved sometimes within a month, and in some cases, over a year from when you began treatment.
To work towards stabilization, you must work closely with your vet to reduce the risk of complications like renal failure, heart problems, and blindness. Even after your dog achieves stability, you still need to see the vet regularly to maintain good health. You also need to ensure consistent administration of insulin, healthy and consistent feeding, and a stress-free lifestyle.
What Breeds of Dogs are Prone to Diabetes?
Although any dog could develop diabetes, these breeds are at a higher risk:
- Golden retrievers
- Cocker spaniels
- German shepherds
- Miniature schnauzers
- Doberman pinschers
- Labrador retrievers
- Toy poodles
- Bichon frises
- Australian terriers
- Cairn terriers
- Fox terriers
What to Feed a Dog with Diabetes?
There is no specific diet for canine diabetes. Factors such as body condition, underlying medical conditions, and pet preferences guide the most suitable diet for canine diabetes.
Though approaches differ when it comes to determining the optimal nutrition in diabetic dogs, the diet has to be consistent – use the same food, administer insulin as required, and provide the same treats.
Diets can be divided into the following categories:
These are diets that are specially formulated to manage canine diabetes. Diets that are high in fiber are especially effective for weight loss and improving blood sugar control. Consult your vet about the most appropriate food choices for your canine.
Before choosing a diet, you need to consider which nutrients are the most essential for your dog. The most important nutrients are carbohydrates and fiber. If your dog has other underlying conditions such as pancreatitis or heart disease, or high levels of fat, you may want to consider regulating sodium and fats.
You must provide clean drinking water for your dog. You may notice a reduction in excessive water consumption, which could be an indication of the successful management of diabetes.
Can a Dog with Diabetes Eat Rice?
You want to generally avoid high glycemic foods that cause an almost instant spike in blood sugar, such as white rice and bread. On the other hand, brown rice can be harder for your dog because it is not as processed, so it may also not be ideal.
Can a Dog with Diabetes Eat Eggs?
High-quality proteins are highly recommended for dogs with diabetes. Foods like eggs are great protein sources. Consider scrambling the eggs (minus any salt, pepper, or spices) in preparation for your dog, rather than offering them raw, to reduce the risk of the presence of avidin, a bacteria common in uncooked eggs.
Can a Dog with Diabetes Eat Chicken?
Other than eggs, other proteins you can give your dog include chicken, beef, fish, and turkey. Stick to low-fat recipes, such as chicken breasts and lean meats. L-Carnitine, an amino acid present in lamb and beef, is especially helpful in managing diabetes in dogs. High-quality proteins in general can improve fat metabolism, help in the maintenance of lean body mass, and protect muscles.
Can a Dog with Diabetes Have Treats?
Diabetic dogs can have treats, as long as they meet the following guidelines:
- No obvious sources of sugar
- Low-fat content
- High fiber content
- Complex carbohydrates/grains
- High-quality proteins
Signs Your Dog with Diabetes is Dying
Dogs are at a higher risk of dying from diabetes as a result of developing ketoacidosis, with symptoms that include:
- Decreased appetite
- Seizures or tremors
- Abnormal breathing patterns
Cost of Treating a Dog with Diabetes
The cost of treating a diabetic dog varies depending on the type of treatment, the recommended diet, and general care. The cost is highest in the initial stage of treatment. Depending on the type of insulin and dose, the medicine alone may cost $40-$200 per month.