Diabetes in German Shepherds can be a silent killer. If you suspect German Shepherd diabetes, it is necessary to keep your dog on a strict regimen to help him live a longer life.
To understand German Shepherd diabetes, you must know what is insulin and how it helps the body. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. This hormone processes glucose so that it is absorbed by the body and turned into fuel to power the body cells. Glucose is basically the energy source for cells and organs.
What is diabetes mellitus in dogs?
Your German Shepherd can suffer from different physical ailments if he has diabetes mellitus. The disease has two known types.
- Diabetes Type 1 (insulin-deficiency diabetes), which happens when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin.
- Diabetes Type 2 (insulin-resistance diabetes), which happens when the body cells do not respond efficiently to insulin.
Both types of German Shepherd diabetes make it unable for your pet’s body to efficiently process glucose and turn it into body fuel.The condition leads to high sugar levels in the blood –resulting in hyperglycemia. Diabetes can occur in your German Shepherd when he suffers from chronic hyperglycemia. The disease can lead to death if not detected and managed early and carefully.
Are German Shepherds prone to diabetes mellitus?
All dogs regardless of the breed can get diabetes mellitus.However, the German Shepherd is among the dog breeds that are more prone to the along with Keeshonds, Poodles, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, Australian Terriers, and Miniature Pinschers.
The average age of dogs affected with diabetes mellitus is between 6 and 9 years of age. Female dogs are also 3 times more likely to develop the disease compared to males.
What Are Possible Causes of German Shepherd Diabetes?
German Shepherds can develop Diabetes Mellitus due to any of the following:
- Being overweight
- Autoimmune diseases
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Pancreatic problems including pancreatitis or trauma to the pancreas
- Cushing’s disease
- Chronic stress
- Hormonal changes
- Endocrine problems
- Steroid medications
- Consumption of too much fatty food
The pancreatic damage that is linked to autoimmune diseases accounts for an estimated 50 percent of diabetes in dogs. These autoimmune problems have been associated with environmental factors and genetics.
On the other hand, about 20 percent of diabetic dogs were seen to have developed insulin resistance due to long-term use of steroid drugs, acromegaly, or Cushing’s disease.
What is the normal blood sugar level in dogs?
The normal blood sugar level in a German Shepherd should be 80-120 mg/dl (4.4-6.6 mmol/L). Dogs diagnosed with diabetes have glucose levels as high as 400-600 mg/dl (22-33 mmol/L) and even higher.
What are the signs of German Shepherd diabetes?
It is better to detect the disease early and have it managed as soon as possible. The disease commonly strikes in middle-aged German Shepherds. However, German Shepherd puppies as young as 9 months-old have also been diagnosed with the disease.
Watch out for the following signs of diabetes in your German Shepherd.
- Frequent urination
- Excessive drinking
- Weight loss despite normal or voracious appetite
- Increased hunger
What can happen to your German Shepherd if he has diabetes mellitus?
If your German Shepherd has diabetes, he will experience weakness as his body does not have enough body fuel. When this happens, his cells and organs eventually feed on his own fats and muscles in order to function.
Your German Shepherd will then suffer from dehydration and weakness. He will also lose weight and muscle mass because his body is unable to absorb the glucose found in the food he eats.
Another problem German Shepherd diabetes causes is the excessive glucose left in the blood damage organs such as the heart, kidneys, and more. High blood sugar levels also damage the nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetes mellitus can also cause blindness and seizures in your German Shepherd.
Is there a way to reverse diabetes mellitus in German Shepherds?
While reversing German Shepherd diabetes is an ideal plan, successful treatment is very rare. But there are effective ways to help control your German Shepherd’s condition and help him live a longer, happier, and healthier life.
How can you help your diabetic German Shepherd?
Leaving your German Shepherd’s diabetes uncontrolled can lead to serious complications. For this reason, you must be vigilant and watch out for any changes in your German Shepherd’s behavior and body. Here are some ways to help your diabetic German Shepherd.
- Give your German Shepherd special dog food meant for diabetic dogs
- Plan a spaced out feeding schedule for your German Shepherd. You can try feeding him the same type of dog food in every meal. Make sure to feed him with the same amount of food at the same time every day. The recommended schedule of the meal is every 12 hours.
- Exercise your diabetic dog every day. It is important that you know the physical exercises your German Shepherd can do and their daily duration.
- Talk to your German Shepherd’s veterinarian about insulin supplementations. Follow the instructions strictly.
- Avoid feeding your German Shepherd foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates. But do not eliminate carbohydrates in his diet completely. Diabetic dogs need enough carbohydrates to power their body systems. Just make sure to feed him with the same food with the right amounts of carbohydrates every day to keep his glucose levels stable.
- Consider giving your German Shepherd supplements, such as Brewer’s yeast and vitamins C and E.