Canine diabetes mellitus is a chronic disorder of the endocrine system that occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce an adequate supply of insulin, or alternatively when a dog’s cells are unable to take up the insulin that is produced. If your dog is showing clinical signs that are suggestive of diabetes mellitus, your veterinarian will run a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis. Several other diseases can cause the same or similar symptoms as canine diabetes mellitus, so several tests are usually necessary to rule out other conditions and to confirm a definitive diagnosis of diabetes.
Testing for Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs
Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination to assess your dog’s general health. She probably will ask you about any changes in your dog’s behavior and body, such as increased or decreased urination, thirst or appetite, weight loss or lethargy, among other possible signs.
Some tests are fairly standard in the assessment of diabetes.
A urine sample will be collected and tested for the presence of glucose or bacteria in the urine. A bladder or urinary tract infection can mimic the clinical signs of diabetes, but also commonly accompanies the disease.
Blood samples will be analyzed for a number of things, especially for the levels of blood glucose, cholesterol and liver enzymes. Your dog likely will need to fast for 12-24 hours before this particular blood test, to ensure accurate results. A single blood test may not be sufficient for a definitive diagnosis, so additional tests may be necessary.
Some other things your veterinarian may recommend include abdominal ultrasound and assessment of serum thyroid hormone concentration, serum pancreatic enzyme levels, blood progersterone concentration in intact female dogs, and/or bacterial culture of the urine.
Analyzing the Results
If blood and urine glucose levels are both consistently high, your dog’s pancreas may not be secreting adequate amounts of insulin (this is called Type I diabetes mellitus). Alternatively, your dog’s body may be resisting or unable to use the insulin that it is producing (Type II diabetes mellitus). The prognosis for diabetic dogs depends on a number of factors, including owner commitment to a specific treatment protocol, the presence and treatability of concurrent disorders, and the effectiveness of blood glucose regulation. Typically, diabetes is very treatable if owners are diligent about their role in treatment.