"Dog diabetes treatment varies based on the type of diabetes diagnosed; diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus is more common, while diabetes insipidus occurs less frequency. Treating both forms of diabetes in dogs requires eliminating the underlying cause. Diabetes Mellitus is caused by a deficiency of Insulin, while diabetes insipidus is caused by reduced secretions of anti diuretic hormone (ADH). Medication is the primary component of any treatment plan, while long term care, feeding management and nursing are usually required. Treatment may also involve addressing any complications of diabetes that exist in the dog such as ketoacidosis (acid formation in the blood), which is considered a medical emergency."
Diabetes Mellitus is the most common form of diabetes in dogs. Insulin deficiency is primary cause of this form. Treatment of diabetes mellitus may involve medication, appropriate health care and on-going monitoring.
Health Care and Nursing; Once a dog is confirmed for diabetes mellitus, long term care and management of the dog is necessary. Diet is an important consideration in diabetic dogs. For example, dogs with diabetes should not be fed soft, moist food as it may increase the chances of hyperglycemia. Foods containing more fiber and complicated sugars (glucose) are preferred. This will not only help reduce the weight of a diabetic dog, but will also reduce glucose absorption in blood.
Insulin is the therapy of choice for diabetes mellitus. Initial therapy of insulin is with a dose rate of 0.5 U/Kg, with 2 doses a day being sufficient. This initial therapy should be closely monitored every 5 – 7 days. Monitoring of the clinical signs and blood glucose levels will reveal a maintenance or stable dose for a dog, which is usually different for every dog. In most cases, life long administration of a stable dose is usually required along with extensive care and management.
Precautions: Use of corticosteroids and progesterone may cause a resistance to insulin. Diabetes mellitus in females occurs more then males due to progesterone, which develops resistance against insulin action in the body.
The most common complication associated with dog diabetes treatment for diabetes mellitus is that of “Ketoacidosis” which is the build up of acid in the blood. Symptoms of ketoacidosis are abnormal thirst (polydipsia), frequent urination (polyuria), omitting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The condition is usually seen in dogs that are older than age 7. Poodles and Dachshunds are predisposed to it. It should be considered a medical emergency. Dehydration should be treated by fluid therapy. Intra venous administration of 0.9% NaCl or Ringer’s lactate solution is recommended.
Along with fluid therapy, insulin should be administered at hourly doses as, initial dose of 0.2 U/Kg and then a repeated dose of 0.1 U/kg every hour. Once the glucose levels drop below from 250 mg/dL, insulin should be administered Sub Cutaneous (SC) at dose rate of 0.25 – 0.5 U/Kg every 4 – 6 hours.
This is an aggressive insulin therapy to treat ketoacidosis in dogs, it should be noted that blood glucose level may fall rapidly; therefore 2.5 – 5% dextrose may be added with fluids & administered through intra venous (IV) route.
Diabetes insipidus is another form of diabetes that is due to reduced secretions of anti diuretic hormones (ADH). The only signs associated with this form are polyuria (frequent urination in large volumes) and the resulting polydipsia (Increased thirst).
In terms of dog diabetes treatment, polyuria may be controlled by the administration of desmopressin acetate, which is a synthetic form of anti diuretic hormone. 2 Drops of it can be applied either in the nasal mucosa or conjunctivae. Monitoring & increase in dose rate will help in determining the effective dose, which varies for each dog. Drug usually shows results 2 – 6 hours of administration & lasts maximally for 10 – 12 hours. Life long administration is usually required to keep diabetes insipidus in control.
Water should never be restricted to such dogs & should be closely monitored for any renal disorders.
In addition to necessary conventional approaches such as insulin replacement therapies, homeopathic approaches seek to strengthen the pancreas and liver to help build the bodies natural capabilities. One product, GlucoEnsure is made specifically for this purpose and contains ingredients such as Billberry (anti-oxidant), chromium (sugar and fat metabolism) and galega officinalis (insulin levels and pancreatic support). Follow the link above for clinical studies and additional information on this approach.
Understanding Diabetic Ketoacidosis, Thomas Schermerhorn, VMD, DACVIM
Assistant Professor of Small Animal Medicine