The worst nightmare a dog owner can think of is their dog getting sick. Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from some diseases that humans suffer from as well. Sometimes, these illnesses creep up on us suddenly, but most of the time, this doesn’t mean that any of us dog owners did anything wrong to cause our dog to get sick.
It is a natural segment of life that can really catch us off guard. One of those diseases is diabetes, often referred to as the silent killer. Diabetes is one of those diseases that can either be life-threatening or in a lighter form, but it for sure changes the quality of life of our dogs.
Just like any disease, it is great when you catch it on time, but mostly, it is extremely hard to do that. For dog owners who have a dog that is suffering from this illness, you would probably want to know some signs your dog with diabetes is dying.
You have probably wondered yourself, and we hope we can either help you or make you at ease in some way by presenting you with a list of some worrying symptoms and other conditions and complications that can be caused by diabetes.
7 Signs Your Dog With Diabetes Is Dying
Diabetes, or in a more professional term, diabetes mellitus, is a disease that can affect dogs and cats of any age, breed, or sex. Usually, there are some symptoms that can occur that can be more or less severe.
The good news is that some dogs with diabetes can live a long and happy life without symptoms. For this to be possible, it takes a lot of work and dedication, and to be honest, money from we owners. Unfortunately, some dogs can lose this battle no matter how much we try to help them.
Before we continue further, we want to say that we are proud of everything that you have done so far for your dogs. We want to tell you that no matter all the measures and effort we put into healing our dogs, and providing them everything they need to live a healthy life, sometimes they just react to the disease differently.
For some dogs, the disease takes its toll on them. We are here to help you detect and describe the final stages of dog diabetes, or in other words, list the signs your dog with diabetes is dying.
Since glucose is used for energy, when dogs have diabetes, they cannot use the glucose. That means that they will be weak or lethargic. Weakness is usually a sign of the last stage of diabetes. If you see that your dog is lying around more than usual, you should probably contact the vet.
Even if you see your dog getting tired after a short playtime, or looking weak when you take it for a regular walk so it can go to the bathroom, it mostly means that diabetes has progressed.
There can be moments where they refuse to walk at all. This is the most concerning thing. This sometimes means that they have almost given up.
Weakness can be a symptom of many diseases, but if you know that your dog has diabetes and you see that they are having a hard time moving around, make an urgent appointment with a vet.
Another problem that diabetes can cause is a shift or a change of pH in the blood. Because of this, the metabolic balance in your dog’s body gets upset. All of this results in the problem of vomiting.
Your pooch will probably be vomiting a couple of times a day. This is not only exhausting for a dog that is already sick, but it is dangerous because they can’t keep any nutrients in their body that every dog needs to consume daily.
This also causes weakness, which can make it very difficult for a dog to get better. When you notice that your dog is vomiting excessively, it is probably because diabetes has come to the advanced stage.
We advise you to take your dog to the vet as soon as you see it vomit two times in a day. The sooner you bring it in, there is a possibility that the vet can help at least ease its discomfort.
Dogs that vomit a lot and need to pee a lot lose a lot of water from their body. This is one of the reasons why they will feel thirsty most of the time. By excessively drinking water, they are compensating for the lost water.
This symptom can sometimes go unnoticed, especially if the only other symptom is excessive urinating. Owners might think that their dog got a cold so they need to pee a lot, and because of that, it is good for them to drink a lot of water.
This is one of the reasons why it’s extremely important to always monitor your dog that has diabetes. Even the vet will emphasize that home monitoring is a necessity. Things like this can sometimes save their life. So, if you see your dog that has diabetes drinking water more than usual, take it to the vet.
Diabetes causes high levels of unutilized glucose that is streaming through the dog’s blood. What this means is that a lot of glucose can end up in the urine. The consequence of glucose in the urine is high levels of water in the urine.
This causes your dog that has diabetes to frequently pee. Other things that glucose in urine can cause are bladder irritation, urinary tract infections, and the need to pee more. Why is that? Well, glucose is a powerful energy source for all different bacteria.
So, when there is glucose in the urine, bacteria will dine on it and will thrive in that environment. This, of course, causes your sick dog even more problems. This is extremely inconvenient for dogs that also suffer from weakness.
Because of all the bathroom breaks, your dog won’t have time to rest as much as it needs. There will probably be some accidents at home, but try not to be angry at them because they can’t control it.
Try to ease them as much as you can by putting their bed in the yard so they don’t need to walk much to go to the bathroom. This is a bit tricky when you live in an apartment. You can try to buy them cat litter and place it somewhere in the apartment so they don’t need to go out every time they need to pee.
As we already mentioned, diabetes can cause urinary infections and bladder infections because of the glucose in the urine. But, what we didn’t mention is that sometimes, these infections can be hard to detect.
If there is excessive urinating, you can tell that there is an infection. But, sometimes frequent peeing won’t be a sign. Sometimes, these types of infections only cause a dog to be uncomfortable and in pain.
This is why it’s important to do a urine culture test at least twice a year with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), especially if you know that your dog has diabetes. If these infections stay untreated for a long period, they can cause some severe problems to the kidneys, and in the end, organ failure.
Another type of infection that can be caused is a dental infection, and it is common in dogs that have struggled with diabetes for a long time, especially senior dogs. Frequent teeth cleaning can help with this problem.
This is one of the most life-threatening signs that diabetes can cause. Because of the high levels of sugar, the filtering units in this organ are damaged, and because of this damage, this organ usually fails.
This happens in the end stages of this disease, and this is the reason why diabetes is called the silent killer. Kidney failure is often detected late. Just like we humans, dogs can’t live without functioning kidneys.
When this occurs, it is most likely that the vet can’t do too much to save the dog. There might be the possibility of a transplant, but it is risky, especially when it is the case with an older dog, and it is also very expensive.
This is one of the signs that your dog is dying.
Some of the signs are decreased urine, lethargy, and vomiting. You should take your dog to the vet, but most likely, this symptom will lead to death. Even if there are some possible medications, your dog will probably be in great discomfort. Euthanasia might be the right thing to do if it comes to this.
Seizures can become daily symptoms that your dog will go through. They are, besides kidney failure, the most intense and certain sign that diabetes has come to its final stages. This symptom can be tricky.
When they first start happening, they aren’t that intense. A lot of them will probably be hard to detect. The reason why they start to happen is because of brain damage that cannot be reversed. Even if the pet owner can see some of the seizures, they make your dog’s life much harder.
The brain damage that happens is a result of too much insulin or not enough insulin in the body. Even kidney failure can cause this. This is why regular checkups with the vet are important.
What Are Some Complications Caused By Diabetes In Dogs?
Besides the signs your dog with diabetes is dying that we listed previously, there are some complications that may not be deadly, but will for sure make your dog’s life harder.
If the dog feels like it is sick, it will probably show you. Dogs tend to attach themselves to you, and they follow you everywhere and want to spend as much time with you as possible.
We know that diabetes causes problems with a dog’s blood sugar, but that is not the only thing this disease can cause. It can cause other health complications that can be minor, but some have the potential to be life-threatening even if, in most cases, they are not.
This depends on when these complications are caught, and if your dog is older or younger. Some are connected with the fact that the dog is not treated while others occur if the dog is receiving some insulin therapy that is incorrect.
Complications With Treatment
When the vet determines that your dog has diabetes, they will prescribe proper treatment. There are a couple of treatment options, but as with every medication, there can always be some side effects and risk factors.
But, mostly, complications occur with a dog that is treated incorrectly. The most common way to treat diabetes is with insulin that is injectable, along with a controlled diet, which should consist of fiber and carbohydrates. These help control blood sugar levels. If the dog food is not proper and the medication is not dosed properly, there can be more problems than just diabetes.
Improper Dosage Of Insulin
Inappropriate insulin dosage is very dangerous. Whether it is giving too much or too little, or the schedule is not properly followed, it can cause irregular blood glucose levels. This can cause your dog to have either high blood sugar or low blood sugar, and both cases are bad for your dog’s health.
This can cause damage to the organs and organ tissue, and that can potentially be fatal. This is why it’s important to make a schedule for giving your dog insulin injections or whatever treatment it is given. Regular monitoring of blood sugar is important.
If you think that you skipped a treatment, or if you are not sure whether you gave your dog a treatment twice, you should contact the vet. It is always better to ask for advice from a professional rather than doing something blindly.
This condition is connected to low blood sugar. The main factor that can cause this is giving your dog too high a dose of insulin. When you give your dog too much insulin, it causes glucose to reduce, which leaves the bloodstream with little to almost no sugar.
With no sugar in the blood, the tissues basically starve. Since glucose is basically energy for many organs as well as the brain, if there is not enough of it, you can expect organs to fail and the brain to suffer from dangerous damage.
Another thing that can cause hypoglycemia is giving your dog insulin before giving it food. When dogs eat, they put glucose in their body. If you give insulin before a meal, it can attack and remove the glucose that is in the body already.
Even though exercise is good for maintaining a dog’s quality of life, it can be dangerous for diabetic dogs. Too much exercise can drop the sugar to dangerously low levels. It is better to take a 15-minute to half an hour-long walk than to let your dog have more intense playtime in the park.
Complications Without Treatment
This happens when diabetes goes undetected or detected in its later stages. Because of high levels of glucose that stay that high for a long time, cells rely on protein and fats to get energy, and because of this, dogs start to lose muscle mass, which causes weight loss.
Sometimes, dogs can have diabetes for a long time without any visible symptoms, so don’t feel bad if you don’t detect it in time. Try to take your dog to the vet regularly, and there should be no big problems.
Here are some of the complications that can occur if diabetes stays undetected for a long time.
Cataracts is a disease that is connected to the eyes. Most people think that this is another word for blindness, but in fact, it is not. It is actually cloudiness or fogginess in a dog’s eyes. This occurrence is very common in dogs with diabetes.
A healthy eye has 66% of moisture, and that is possible because of the balance between protein and water in the eyeball. What causes cataracts is a high level of glucose that makes its way to the eye. All that glucose causes a loss of water, which makes cataracts form.
This usually leads to blindness, but sometimes it doesn’t happen fully. This isn’t life-threatening, but it for sure causes a decrease in the quality of a dog’s life. Sometimes, this can be the reason why a dog gets euthanized, especially if they are older. Their life becomes difficult, especially when they have other health issues. Sometimes, it is better to decide on that step in order to ease their problems. But, if dogs are younger, they can get used to the fogginess and even blindness.
The central nervous system and the brain use only glucose as an energy source, and nothing else can replace that energy source. Because of this, not treating diabetes or not catching it in time can be very dangerous for the dog.
If the brain and all the nerves don’t get the proper dose of insulin, they starve and can become damaged. If this isn’t treated in time, it can become fatal. Some of the signs of damaged nerve tissue are forgetfulness and lack of coordination.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
The process of food digestion is basically food being broken down into glucose, which is the main source of energy for the body. In this case, there might be enough glucose in the body, but because there is no insulin in the body, the dog can’t use it.
Because of this, the amount of glucose can rise very high, but the dog’s body is still searching for that energy source. When this happens, the dog’s body starts breaking down fats, which results in the production of ketones that are now the new energy source.
If this happens from time to time, it doesn’t cause any serious problems. But, if it happens continuously for a long period of time, your dog will end up with a condition that is called Diabetic Ketoacidosis. What this condition does to the body is shift the pH balance, or, in other words, the acid-base balance, and makes it acidic.
When the pH is shifted, the electrolyte balance is shifted as well. This causes problems with muscle function and heart rhythm. The good thing to do when dealing with canine diabetes is to check the levels of ketones in their urine daily. There are tests that you can purchase in almost any drugstore.
What Is Diabetes, And How Do You Detect It?
Canine diabetes occurs when a dog doesn’t produce insulin in the needed amounts. If this is the case, there can be many problems that your dog can suffer from. Insulin is very important because it regulates the sugar levels in the blood as well as glucose absorption.
Glucose is the source of energy for a dog’s body, but if there is not enough insulin, the body can’t use the glucose. Because it doesn’t get energy from it, the body sends signals to produce more glucose, which, in the end, causes the body to have high levels of glucose.
There are two types of diabetes in dogs, and we will briefly explain the difference.
Type 1 Diabetes
This type is known as insulin-deficient diabetes. This means that your dog’s body cannot produce enough insulin. In this case, the pancreas is not doing its job, or, in other words, it is not performing as it should.
In some cases, the pancreas stops producing insulin entirely. This type of diabetes is more common in dogs, and it can be manageable. But, you need to know that these dogs need to receive the proper dosage of injected insulin in order to be sure that the body is converting glucose as it should.
Type 2 Diabetes
This type is known as insulin-resistant diabetes, which as the name says, is when dogs have insulin resistance. In this case, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body does not use it properly.
The working pancreas is useless at this point because the produced insulin does not get used, so it is almost like it doesn’t even work. This type is not as common, but it occurs in dogs that are overweight and old.
Symptoms Of Diabetes
There are symptoms for every disease so you can expect diabetes to have some, too. Before we start the list, you need to know that some of the symptoms can overlap with other diseases. You have Cushing’s disease as an example.
There are a lot of symptoms that are similar or the same with these two diseases. But, whatever it is, if you see that your dog is not being its usual self, contact the vet. Here are some of the potential signs that dogs with diabetes can showcase.
– Weight loss
– Being lost in space
– Changes in vision
– Chronic UTIs
– Changes in appetite
What Makes A Dog More At Risk Of Getting Diabetes?
The vets aren’t 100% sure what can cause diabetes in dogs, but every dog can get it. After some research, it has been concluded that there are some dogs that are more prone to getting this disease.
Here is the list of things that can make your dog more at risk of getting diabetes.
Age is always the factor when it comes to any disease, and it mostly affects older dogs. But, diabetes can occur anywhere between five and nine years of age. This can vary, of course. Sometimes, dogs won’t get diabetes until they become senior.
Dogs that are obese can develop problems with their pancreas. And, as we already saw, if your dog has problems with its pancreas, it won’t produce enough insulin, resulting in diabetes.
Female dogs are more likely to get diabetes than male dogs. Some studies show that they are twice as likely to get this disease. Neutered males are prone to this disease as well, but not as much as females.
Any breed can get diabetes, but there are some breeds that are more prone to it, as the studies show. Some of those breeds are:
– Golden Retriever
– German Shepherd
– Many Terrier breeds
This is an inflammation of the pancreas. Any damage to this organ will result in diabetes. So, if your dog has pancreatitis, there is a possibility, if not treated on time, that it can get diabetes.
Other Medical Conditions
Other diseases, especially autoimmune diseases, can cause your dog to get diabetes. This is why it’s important to have regular checks with a vet. Already sick dogs can always develop other illnesses, so it is important to monitor your dog constantly.
When Should You Put A Diabetic Dog Down?
There is no right answer for this. The main thing is that you monitor your dog. If you see that they are getting worse and struggling, you should end their struggles. This is extremely difficult to decide, but it is better to ease your dog of anything this uncomfortable.
You can always ask for advice from the vet. As hard as it is, you can make your dog super calm and comfortable in its last days, which could otherwise be very difficult for them if you let them struggle with all the complications.
If you decide on this, there are some places that do free euthanization.
What Is The Average Life Expectancy Of A Diabetic Dog?
Most dogs don’t have any severe signs or complications from diabetes, and can live a long and happy life. This, of course, depends from dog to dog, but diabetes, in general, doesn’t mean a death sentence.
Some dogs can live two to three years without any symptoms after the diagnosis is made. Unfortunately, we can’t say that there is a specific lifespan for dogs with diabetes. Some live long lives without any complications, and can even die from another cause.
But, others, unfortunately, don’t have that chance. It depends on so many factors, but however it is destined, enjoy every moment with your dog.
You need to know that if your dog gets diagnosed with diabetes and you choose not to medicate it, then its life expectancy will probably be two to eight months.
To Sum It Up
Having a sick dog is never easy, especially when you know that things are coming to an end. Signs your dog with diabetes is dying can be scary. As we already said, sometimes whatever you do to help your dog won’t be enough because things just happen. Never blame yourself for anything because we are sure that you will have done everything that is in your power.
We are sure that your dog led an amazing life, and that it will feel your love through all of the difficulties. Some hard decisions will need to be made, but we are sure that you will manage to do the best things possible.
We hope that you will have many more years with your beloved pooch. Enjoy every moment you have with them, and we wish you all the strength to go through everything that is challenging.