Monday, November 25, 2013

Living with diabetes: Canine diabetes: Can you prevent it?

All this month we've been talking about diabetes in dogs and cats. You can see all those stories in our special section.

On Saturday we talked about preventing diabetes in cats. But that seems to be a bit easier, since diabetes in cats can be caused by obesity. Keep your cat slim, greatly reducse the chance of getting diabetes.

But can you do that with dogs?

Remember that no disease is 100 percent preventable, and some dogs have a higher risk than others to diabetes.
  1. Miniature schnauzers
  2. Toy and miniature poodles
  3. Samoyeds
  4. Pugs
  5. Keeshond
  6. Puli
  7. Miniature Pinscher
  8. Cairn terrier
  9. Poodle (no specification)
  10. Dachshund
  11. Beagle
That's the first thing you want to consider when trying to lower your pet's risk.


The pancreas, like the human pancreas, has two important functions -- produces insulin, which breaks down sugar in the blood, and produces digestive enzymes.

Pancreatitis is when the pancreas is inflamed, forcing those digestive enzymes into the stomach, where it starts to break down fat and tissue.

"Pancreatitis, especially chronic pancreatitis, can cause enough damage to the pancreas (including the beta cells responsible for secreting insulin) to be a cause of diabetes," said Dr. Lorie Huston, a veterinarian and one of the experts who has helped with this series.

So how can you prevent pancreatitis (and again, not 100 percent preventable)? Here's what said:
  • A reduction in the dog's weight (if it is overweight), and proper on-going weight management
  • Avoidance of high-fat diets
  • Keeping your dog as close to its ideal weight as possible
  • Avoidance of drugs that may increase inflammation
In other words, keep your pet from becoming obese. OBESITY (an indirect link to diabetes).

And FYI -- pancreatitis becomes a concern around the holidays. There's lots of rich food around, and everyone is offering your dog food, or your dog is sneaking food, or you have special treats for your dog, etc. So watch what your dog is getting for Thanksgiving this week.


Last week we met Loki the rottweiler. Loki's diabetes was induce due to long-term use of prednisone.

Prednisone is a glucocorticoid.

"Another important point is that there are certain drugs, like glucocorticoids, that can also predispose an animal (dog or cat) to diabetes," Dr. Huston said. "That’s why the long-term administration of these drugs is not generally recommended unless absolutely necessary medically."


Remember before how we said that keeping the teeth in good shape was important? It's important in preventing diabetes too.

Studies right now show that people with periodontal disease (inflammation and/or infections in the gums) are more likely to develop diabetes. The research right now shows that periodontal diseases release cytokines, a toxin that can damage the pancreas. The diseases can also disturb the regulation of glucose in the blood stream, which can eventually cause diabetes.

So, what is the bottom line? The best thing to do is to try to keep your dog healthy.

  1. Avoid pancreatitis by feeding your dog a proper diet and getting them plenty of exercise.
  2. Try to avoid prolonged exposure to certain drugs.
  3. Keep the teeth healthy to avoid gum diseases. 
If you do this, and get your dog regular check-ups, you have a better chance of keeping diabetes at bay.

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