Have you ever wondered what is the reason for dogs’ predisposition to diabetes? In recent decades, the number of diabetic dogs has increased worldwide. In this article, you can understand some of the risk factors that make dogs more likely to suffer from this disease are.
What is diabetes?
It is essential to know that blood glucose is the body’s primary source of energy. This sugar comes from food intake.
On the other hand, insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas – helps the glucose in food to enter the cells to be used as energy.
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when blood glucose is too high. This abnormally high level can have two causes. In one case, the body does not produce or fails to produce enough insulin, which has been called type 1 diabetes. In the other, the body’s cells do not use insulin well, which is known as type 2 diabetes. In both cases, glucose remains in the blood and is not processed in the cells.
Type 1 diabetes affects virtually all dogs suffering from the disease. Dogs can also develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. On the other hand, there is no evidence that type 2 diabetes – common in humans – occurs in dogs.
How is diabetes treated?
Over time, having too much blood glucose can cause health problems. Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to control diabetes and keep your dog healthy.
The constant administration of insulin is necessary to save the lives of dogs that suffer from type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes in dogs, a problem little studied
Studies of diabetes in dogs are scarce and generally limited to advanced stages of the disease. In this way, the progression from a healthy body to absolute insulin deficiency has not been studied in dogs.
Currently, no laboratory tests are available to identify the underlying cause of diabetes in dogs. Also, the appearance of clinical signs is usually insidious in a period that can vary from weeks to months.
However, the epidemiological factors of canine diabetes coincide closely with those of human patients with type 1 diabetes.
In canine diabetes, it has been shown that at least 80% of cases have antibodies in the blood against pancreatic β cells. These are the cells responsible for the production of insulin. These antibodies mediate the attack and destruction of these cells, executed by the immune system itself.
These findings are common to human diabetes, so if the criteria established in humans apply to dogs, diabetic dogs would be mostly classified as type 1.
Frequently, the diagnosis of canine diabetes is made late in the course of the disease.
Age and race are risk factors for diabetes
Unfortunately, diabetes mellitus is one of the most common endocrine diseases in middle-aged and older dogs. Most dogs most likely to have diabetes are older than seven years.
It is recognized that there is a racial and family predisposition in Samoyed dogs, pinschers, poodles, chow chow, beagle, schnauzers, and Siberian huskies. Also, an exponential increase in the risk of rottweilers for diabetes is documented in North America.
Environmental factors: diet and obesity binomial
The specific environmental risk factors in diabetic dogs have not yet been evaluated. However, the association between diabetes and pancreatitis in dogs deserves particular attention.
It is believed that an autoimmune attack on β cells (the cause of diabetes), pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis), and regulation of intestinal immunity may be related. The intestinal immune system is likely to play a central role in the development of type 1 diabetes.
The intestine and pancreas are immunologically and anatomically linked. Both organs are influenced by environmental factors, such as the intestinal microbiota and the dietary factors that predispose to obesity.
In North America, obesity affects a quarter to a third of dogs and is associated with an increased risk of pancreatitis. Since pancreatitis seems to be a common cause of diabetes in dogs, this relationship between obesity and pancreatitis in dogs is relevant to the development of canine diabetes.
Is diabetes fatal to your pet?
The life expectancy of a diabetic dog may be the same as that of a healthy dog with proper care. However, you should know that your risk is higher during the first six months of treatment when insulin therapy is introduced, and glucose levels are regulated.
Diabetic dogs are more likely to die from kidney disease, infections, or liver or pancreatic disorders than from diabetes itself. Despite this, once their condition stabilizes, diabetic dogs can lead a happy and healthy life.