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Diabetes is caused by inadequate production of insulin by the pancreas. Without insulin, the body can't utilize sugar in the blood. The sugar builds up and soon there is an excess amount which the kidneys need to get rid of. This causes excessive urination. There is a need to compensate for the fluid loss by drinking lots of water.
Acids (keytones) are formed in the blood of diabetics because of inability to metabolize sugar. High levels will lead to a condition called ketoacidosis. It is characterized by acetone on the breath (sweet odor), labored rapid breathing and eventually a diabetic coma.
In the early stages, a dog will try to compensate for the inability to metabolize sugar by eating more food. Later, as the dog suffers the effects of malnourishment, there is a drop in appetite.
The signs of diabetes in dogs are frequent urination, drinking a lot of water, large appetite, unexplained loss of weight.
In more advanced cases there is loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, sweet smelling breath, dehydration, labored breathing, lethargy and coma.
Treating a dog with diabetes involves insulin shots twice a day as well as a fixed meal schedule. Typically the dog must be fed at set times, twice a day, with a set amount of food. Once the food is consumed, the injection is given.
In the event of an insulin overdose, the dog will appear confused, disoriented, drowsy, may shiver and/or stagger, and may also collapse. Rubbing Karo syrup on the gums will help bring the sugar level back to normal, however it is recommended that you seek veterinary help.