Just like us humans, dog diabetes is a serious condition that can affect our canine companions too. There is a common misconception that diabetes is the result of eating too much sugar, when in fact diabetes is actually caused by a lack of insulin.
So can Cavapoos develop diabetes? Genetics, age, gender, stress and weight all play a part as to whether or not a Cavapoo dog will develop diabetes. Although canine diabetes is incurable, your dog can lead a long and happy life if their diabetes is controlled effectively through a change in diet, exercise and insulin injections.
Here we have set out to tell you everything there is to know about diabetes in dogs. From the breeds that are susceptible to it, to the symptoms that your dog displays; we explain why our dogs develop diabetes, the different types of diabetes and how to treat it with a healthy diet, plenty of exercise and the correct level of insulin.
What dog breeds are most likely to get diabetes?
Both my grandma and dad suffered with Type 2 diabetes. This particular form of diabetes is considered to be inherited and has a strong genetic component.
Although any dog may be potentially prone to getting diabetes, just like humans, there are certain breeds that are predisposed to developing it. These include:
- Bichons Frises
- Cairn Terriers
- Cock Spaniels
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Poodles (Toy)
- Siberian Huskies
- Schnauzers (Miniature)
As you can see, many doodle pedigree parents feature on this list. And, although there has been a long-standing perception that mixed breed dogs such as Cavapoos, are less disease-prone than purebred dogs, if you feel your dog is at risk for developing diabetes, then you should consider having your pet tested during a regular vet examination at least once a year.
Can Cavapoo puppies develop diabetes?
Puppy diabetes does exist and the symptoms are similar to those of an older dog. However, we should point out that diabetes in puppies is incredibly rare.
For whilst diabetes can occur at any age, it mostly occurs in middle-aged to senior dogs. Most dogs who develop it are over the age of 7 years old when diagnosed.
What many vets often see in their surgeries, are puppies that are suffering with high blood sugar levels. This can occur temporarily after your puppy has finished their meal or after treatment with IV fluids that contain sugar.
Puppies are also prone to episodes of low blood sugar when they haven’t eaten for a prolonged period of time. Although the symptoms may look similar to dog diabetes, this is not the same as being diabetic.
What is dogs diabetes?
The most common form of dog diabetes is otherwise referred to as diabetes mellitus, or “sugar diabetes Type I and Type II.”
As its name suggests, diabetes mellitus is a condition that affects your dog’s blood sugar level. A small organ near the stomach, the pancreas, is responsible for regulating blood sugar by producing insulin and in Type I, none or too little insulin is produced.
Your dogs lifestyle factors, such as being overweight, can also have an impact on how the pancreas makes insulin. When a dog is obese, the insulin secreted is often not sufficient to meet the body’s needs and they therefore start to build up a resistance to it. This is known as Type II diabetes.
Why is insulin so important to our dogs?
Insulin is so important as it makes sure that the energy your dog gets from its food can be used throughout the day for activities. After each meal the insulin is released by the pancreas to help normalise blood sugar and to aid absorption of nutrients across the wall of the small intestine and into the body.
If there is not enough insulin, or if the body is resistant to it, then the glucose from the food can not be delivered to where it is needed for energy.
Instead the glucose builds up to a high concentration in the bloodstream, which is known as ‘hypoglycemia’ – when the blood sugar increases over and above normal levels.
What are the different types of dog diabetes?
These are the main forms of diabetes in dogs:
- Type I (Insulin-deficiency diabetes): diabetes mellitus occurs when the dog’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin. If your dog is insulin deficient, then they will need to be given daily doses of insulin via injection to replace what their body is unable to produce naturally.
- Type II (Insulin-resistance diabetes): This form of dogs diabetes occurswhen the pancreas produces some insulin, but the dog’s body doesn’t use the insulin as it should, causing high blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes is most common in older, obese dogs and can sometimes be reversed through weight loss and improvements to diet and exercise.
- Gestational diabetes: This form occurs in pregnant females and requires the same treatment as diabetes mellitus.
Is my dog at risk of diabetes?
In addition to genetic factors (as mentioned above) there are several causes of diabetes mellitus which could put your dog more at risk. These include:
- Age. While diabetes can occur at any age (including puppyhood), it mostly occurs later in life in dogs over the age of 7 years.
- Gender. Unspayed female dogs are twice as likely to develop diabetes than male dogs and those that are pregnant could even develop gestational diabetes.
- Recurrent episodes of chronic pancreatitis. Chronic or repeated pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) can eventually cause long term damage to the beta cells of the pancreas where insulin is made.
- Obesity. Obesity contributes to insulin resistance and is a risk factor for pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.
- Auto immune disorders. Some autoimmune disorders and viral diseases are also thought to possibly trigger diabetes as the body starts to destroy its own beta cells in the pancreas.
- Stress. Anxiety or emotional stress can increase the blood glucose, so you should ensure that your Cavapoo remains calm as much as possible.
How common is diabetes in dogs?
Dr. Allison O’Kell says that diabetes is one of the most common endocrine diseases in dogs, although it is often misdiagnosed. It is estimated that anywhere from 1 in 500 to 1 in 100 dogs will develop diabetes in their lifetime, although this appears to be on the increase.
Of that number, more than 95% of cases of diabetes in dogs are Type I, with Type II considered to be much more rare.
How do you know if your dog has diabetes?
Canine diabetes usually has a slow onset, so to begin with the symptoms of diabetes may not be obvious.
With insulin deficiency diabetes, all of the clinical signs relate to the fact that the blood sugar level is running too high (hypoglycemia).
Therefore your dog may start drinking more water and increased urination (and in larger amounts)! They may even have accidents in the house as the body tries to rid itself of excess glucose. Dogs may also eat more while losing or maintaining weight, as they desperately try to fuel their body with energy.
These symptoms are not specific to diabetes, but they are big indicators that your dog should be examined by your veterinarian.
Diabetes is a condition whereby the sooner it’s diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome for your dog. So if you’re suspicious that your Cavapoo may be showing any of these symptoms of diabetes, then a trip to the vet could save you both a lot of trouble, time and money in the future.
- Sweet-smelling or fruity breath
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney failure
- Diabetic cataracts which can lead to blindness
- Severe skin infections
How to treat a Cavapoo with diabetes
When your dog is first diagnosed with diabetes, you may have to make more frequent vet visits for testing and medication adjustments. The veterinarian will help determine the best treatment and management plan for your dog, whilst monitoring their progress in the early stages.
Treatment for dog diabetes is typically straightforward and easy to integrate into your daily routine. It includes:
- A balanced diet. Your vet will recommend the best dog food to give your diabetic dog, but it should include high-quality protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates to help slow the absorption of glucose.
- Consistent exercise. To help avoid sudden spikes or drops in glucose levels, it is important that your dogs maintain a moderate but consistent exercise routine.
- Insulin injections. These injections are administered as a combination of a long-acting injection plus one injection daily before a meal. This will help with good blood glucose control and enable the levels to remain in the normal range, following each bowl of food.
- Medical tag. It is always a good idea to let people who deal with your dog regularly know of their condition. For those who may be unaware that your dog is diabetic, why not get a medical tag and add it to their collar? We particularly like this medical dog alert tag which can be purchased from Amazon.
What diet should you feed a dog with diabetes?
All dogs should be fed a nutritious diet, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not. For a dog with canine diabetes, it should be given a consistent supply of nutrients to make it easier to balance the insulin around the food.
The carbohydrate content of the food is also important as they have a greater effect on the blood glucose levels than any other nutrient. Foods that contain complex carbohydrates and fiber are recommended because they slow down digestion, allowing a sustained release of glucose into the blood stream.
As a general rule, complex carbohydrates should provide 40% or more calories in foods for diabetic dogs and contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fibre.
Finally, the food should contain sufficient high quality protein to meet your dogs requirements.
When to feed a dog with diabetes
It is important to feed a diabetic dog at the same time each day. This way the insulin can be scheduled around these times to ensure that the insulin activity is at its peak after your dog has had their meal.
Feeding several small meals can also help to minimise spikes in blood glucose. If your Cavapoo refuses to eat a meal, then the insulin injection can be postponed. It can be dangerous to let the blood glucose levels dip too low, so insulin should never be given on an empty stomach.
If your Cavapoo has canine companions that you should make sure that you feed all your dogs at the same time as you do not want your diabetic dog snacking on someone else’s food.
What happens if you don’t treat a dog with canine diabetes?
If the symptoms of diabetes are not spotted accurately or are not managed sufficiently, then this can lead to serious implications for your dog.
Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar as mentioned above, is often caused by an overdose of insulin. If left for a prolonged period of time then low blood sugar levels can cause brain damage and other life-threatening complications for your dog.
It is really important that you monitor your dogs blood glucose levels and watch out for symptoms of hypoglycaemia. These symptoms include:
- Involuntary trembling or shaking
- Heart palpitations
- Unsteady on the legs
- Falling in and out of consciousness
- Acting disoriented or confused
- Overcome by weakness or fatigue
- Nervousness or sudden agitation
If your diabetic dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is really important that you get them to a vet right away.
Dog diabetes can also affect your dogs sight by causing cataracts. A staggering 75% of all dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts, with a further 75% going blind within a year!
Therefore if your dog has diabetes, then you should keep a close watch on their eyes to check that they are not appearing cloudy or developing a blue-ish grey tint over the pupil.
In the advanced stages of dog diabetes, you may notice that your cute Cavapoo is starting to lose a dramatic amount of weight and even muscle fat. This is because the body can no longer access glucose so breaks down fat stores from other areas as to way to fuel the body’s cells.
If you see any of these signs or symptoms, then please seek emergency veterinary treatment immediately.
Cost of treating a Cavapoo with diabetes
Diabetes in dogs is a treatable disease but it can be expensive, due to daily injections that have to be administered! Depending on the type of insulin and the dose your dog requires could see costs of care anywhere between $50-$200 per month for a diabetic dog!
You may find that your pet insurance will cover part or all of the medical costs, but you need to check with your individual policy as to what level of cover you are provided with.
Canine diabetes needs to be constantly monitored by your vet, so please make sure that you schedule in the cost of fees and regular blood tests too.
What other health problems can Cavapoo get?
Cavapoos are prone to a range of genetic diseases associated with either the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Poodle. These inherited diseases often affect the brain, heart, and optical health of the breed.
Addisons disease, hip dysplasia, heart conditions, spinal defects and epilepsy are just some of the most common health problems associated with these breeds. To ensure that you are well informed we have produced a guide on what health problems Cavapoos have, especially for you.
Additionally, Cavapoos can become emotionally attached to their owners, which can bring on a condition known as separation anxiety. For those of us who have dogs that are struggling with time on their own, why not read our blog on how to train your Cavapoo to be left alone?
What is the life expectancy of a Cavapoo?
Cavapoos can live between 12-15 years, but there are so many variables that could mean that your dog surpasses, or sadly, fails to hit this general span of years.
Exercise, food quality, health and living conditions all play a part in the life expectancy of our dogs. Some of the healthiest and happiest Cavapoos have been known to live up to 20 years, however, so there is hope for our furry friends yet.
Diabetes is a dastardly disease for dogs to have to live with, but when quickly and efficiently diagnosed by a vet, the correct treatment can ensure that your Cavapoo continues to lead a happy life.
After all, a healthy diet, matched by the correct level of insulin, is the cornerstone of management of the diabetic dog!