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Gestational Diabetes (see symptoms) is uncommon in dogs and usually resolves after whelping but insulin levels should be rechecked during and after lactation.




Canine Gestational Diabetes

by Lynn Morgan


Gestational Diabetes can affect both people and dogs. Although not common, it can be fatal to the pregnant bitch. Breeders, learn cause, symptoms, and treatment!


Canine Gestational Diabetes occurs so rarely that it's entirely possible for a dog breeder to spend decades breeding and raising their dogs without being aware that this could be a potential problem. Most dog owners are unaware of the occurrence of diabetes in dogs at all, unless they or a close friend happens to own a diabetic dog. Left undiagnosed and untreated, Gestational Diabetes can become fatal, so it is a factor that dog breeders need to be aware of.


Canine Gestational Diabetes occurs when a bitch is pregnant and her body either does not produce sufficient insulin, or cannot use what insulin it does produce correctly. Our dogs' cells are fueled by a sugar called glucose. The body obtains glucose by breaking down carbohydrates in the dog's diet. The dog's cells then extract glucose from the dog's blood through the use of insulin.


The Glucose – Insulin – ii Canine Diabetes Connection

Insulin is one of several hormones produced by a dog's pancreas by certain specialized cells within the pancreas. Should a bitch develop Canine Gestational Diabetes, her cells are unable to take in enough glucose. That glucose then begins to build up in her blood stream, and her cells begin to "starve" from the lack of the glucose that they require to function normally. Her internal organs begin to suffer damage from her sugary blood, and her inability to break down and use glucose causes sugar to begin to appear in her urine.


From what I have been able to find while researching this condition, there seem to be a variety of mechanisms during any pregnancy which can cause insulin resistance, which also suppresses the intracellular transport of glucose and increases blood glucose concentrations. When insulin suppression becomes extreme, Canine Gestational Diabetes can develop. As well as insulin resistance, pregnant bitches might have a lesser ability to produce glucose through gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis, and lipolysis, due to the normal responses to hypoglycemia being blunted late into a pregnancy.


If this condition is left untreated, the symptoms of Canine Gestational Diabetes will gradually become worse as the disease progresses. Early detection of this condition is vitally important to successful treatment of the bitch. Immediate medical attention by your veterinarian is critical to successful management of gestational diabetes. With early detection, coupled with prompt medical attention and treatment, a bitch's long-term prognosis will normally be good, and her condition may well resolve once the bitch has given birth to her litter of puppies. It may possibly recur if she has another pregnancy. After asking several veterinarians, I've been told that the chances of Canine Gestational Diabetes recurring with a subsequent pregnancy may be anywhere from thirty to eighty percent.


A bitch suffering from Canine Gestational Diabetes will develop high levels of blood sugar. This condition is called hyperglycemia. This will cause sugar to be present in her urine, a condition called glucosuria, which may result in excessive urination [polyuria]. The bitch may be extremely thirsty and require a lot more water than she would normally drink [polydipsia] to compensate.


Symptoms of Canine Gestational Diabetes include:

  • excessive thirst

  • excessive urination

  • low specific gravity of the urine

  • dehydration

  • electrolyte imbalance

  • excessive hunger

  • weight loss, even though she has a good or an increased appetite

  • lack of energy, with general lethargy and tiredness

  • disorientation

  • depression

  • liver problems

  • bladder problems

  • vomiting

  • cataracts

  • glaucoma

  • blindness

  • seizures

  • coma - death can occur due to a diabetic coma

The bitch's urine may be very pale color to colorless and it may have a sweet odor. If these signs are observed in a pregnant bitch, an appointment for an evaluation with her veterinarian should be made immediately. The symptoms of Canine Gestational Diabetes are shared with a number of other illnesses from which dogs can suffer. Diagnosis will be determined by the veterinarian's performing a physical examination, discussing with her owner the bitch's history and her owner's observations of her symptoms and behavior at home, and laboratory testing to determine her blood sugar levels as well as glucose levels in her urine.


Canine Gestational Diabetes Treatment

Treatment may involve a bitch receiving insulin shots, perhaps once or twice a day. Her veterinarian is the best source of advice as to the ideal insulin dosage she might need, which will depend upon such factors as her weight and the severity of her symptoms. The insulin dosage may acquire adjustment, over time, based on laboratory testing of her blood and urine. Diet will also be a vitally important factor in managing the bitch's condition. A diet that is high in fiber and protein while lower in carbohydrates and fats is recommended.


In managing any form of diabetes, staying on a strict schedule is very important to the bitch's health. She will need her food and her insulin injections at the same time, each time, every day. Her veterinarian will help to decide on the best timing of feedings, and the amounts per feeding. It's generally going to be safer to feed her first, and plan on giving the bitch her insulin injection around half an hour after she has eaten. Should she not eat at any particular meal, then there's the opportunity to adjust her insulin injection accordingly.


Any breed of dog, as well as mixed breed dogs, can develop Canine Gestational Diabetes. A caring and observant owner, who knows what signs of trouble to look for during her pregnancy, will catch this disease in it's earliest stages and seek medical care. This is important in order to save your bitch from discomfort and distress. Canine Gestational Diabetes which is caught in the early stages can be managed allowing the bitch to have a good quality of life for many more years.


For clear perspective on the connection between vaccines and diabetes, see this boldly titled article Vaccines Produce Diabetes by medical doctors and veterinarians. EST 1998 © 10111591809


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