Diabetes in dogs is increasingly common – but it can be controlled and quality of life maintained.
For years public health officials have reported a diabetes epidemic among America’s children and adults. At the same time, the rate of diabetes in America’s pets has more than tripled since 1970, so that today it affects about 1 in every 160 dogs. But while many human cases are caused and can be treated by diet, canine diabetes is a lifelong condition that requires careful blood sugar monitoring and daily insulin injections.
The medical term for the illness is diabetes mellitus (mellitus is a Latin term that means “honey sweet,” reflecting the elevated sugar levels the condition produces in urine and blood). Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin to metabolize food for energy, or when the body’s cells fail to utilize insulin properly.
The pancreas’s inability to produce insulin is known in humans as type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes. This is analogous to the type that affects virtually all dogs. Dogs can also develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
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