Leesville Animal Hospital is a popular Raleigh community pet hospital and as a staple in the community, we believe in the importance of pet owner education. The more pet parents can understand their pet’s health, the better the quality of care they can provide at home. Today, in the first article of a series of pet health focal pieces, we want to talk a little bit about canine diabetes.
Raleigh Community Pet Hospital Explains Canine Diabetes
If your dog has just been diagnosed with canine diabetes, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, but you should know that although it’s a chronic disease, diabetes can be very successfully managed.
Carbohydrates, Glucose, and Glycogen
Carbohydrates make up between 30 to 70 percent of the average dry dog food. When your dog eats those carbohydrates they get broken down in the small intestine into simple sugars known as glucose. That glucose is then used by the cells in your dog’s body as a fuel source. Your dog’s body requires glucose as a source of energy, but it is also necessary for the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system.
It is in the best interest of the body to maintain a steady level of glucose in the blood to provide a regular supply of fuel to cells and maintain healthy brain and nervous system function. The regulation of the level of glucose in the bloodstream is the job of the pancreas.
In the normally functioning body, the pancreas monitors blood sugar levels via beta cells. These beta cells monitor blood sugar levels every few seconds. So, as glucose is produced during the process of digestion and it enters the bloodstream and causes the blood sugar level to rise it causes an alert in the pancreas. The pancreas then releases insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin “unlocks” muscle, fat, and liver cells allowing glucose to enter those cells where they can be used as fuel. This serves to reduce blood sugar levels. Any “leftover” glucose is then turned into a storable form of energy called glycogen. This glycogen is stored in the liver and the muscles.
When blood sugar levels dip, alpha cells in the pancreas begin the production of a substance called glucagon. Glucagon tells the liver to breakdown glycogen stores and releases glucose into the blood to stabilize low blood sugar levels.
What Does All of This Have to Do With Canine Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where your dog’s level of blood sugar is uncontrolled. This means that somewhere along the way, the body’s natural method of maintaining steady levels of blood sugar is going awry.
There Are Two Types of Canine Diabetes
Although dogs can develop both insulin-deficiency diabetes and insulin-resistance diabetes, insulin-deficiency diabetes is the most commonly diagnosed type of canine diabetes.
In insulin-deficiency diabetes, the body does not produce insulin and so there is no way for the body to “unlock” the cells that would otherwise use glucose as fuel. This causes blood sugar levels to be high.
In insulin-resistant diabetes, the body does not respond to insulin the way that it should and later in the disease it may stop making enough insulin. This can also cause high levels of blood sugar.
Managing Canine Diabetes
It is crucial to properly manage your dog’s diabetes in order to enable their body to function normally and to prevent unpleasant symptoms from making them feel miserable! This is done through lifestyle changes as well as medications.
In the case of insulin-deficiency diabetes, management means injecting insulin into the body to maintain regular glucose levels. Your vet will show you how to test blood sugar levels, how to monitor blood glucose, and how to inject insulin.
In the case of insulin-resistant diabetes, management can sometimes mean just exercise and diet or medication changes. Occasionally oral medications may also be used. but it is generally preferred to use a diet and exercise approach to treatment before all else.
Whichever type of diabetes your dog has been diagnosed with, it’s crucial that you work with your vet and stick with the healthcare protocols provided to you by your vet in order to maintain your dog’s optimal health.
In Need of a Raleigh Community Pet Hospital to Help You to Manage Your Dog’s Diabetes?
If you’re living in Raleigh and in need of a Raleigh community pet hospital to help you to manage your dog’s diabetes, Leesville Animal Hospital is here for you. We have three expert vets on staff who are all experienced with managing canine diabetes and who can help you to keep your dog healthy and happy. Give us a call today at (919)870-7000 and we’ll get you set up with an appointment right away!