Friday, 31 January 2014 02:00
Dear Dr. Kaplan: Jane is my five-year-old Rottweiler cross dog who is spayed and was doing well until about two weeks ago. At that time, she refused to eat but drank a lot of water and was urinating in the house.
She did not eat for five days in a row and became more lethargic as time went on.
The sixth day, she began to vomit, so I took her to the veterinarian on the seventh day. She was diagnosed with sugar diabetes.
The veterinarian kept her in the hospital on intravenous fluids for a full three days. She is doing well at home now on a special diet and I am giving her insulin injections twice daily. The veterinarian said she had diabetic ketoacidosis when I first brought her in and that necessitated the days of hospitalization and intensive therapy. What is diabetic ketoacidosis?
When dogs develop diabetes mellitus or what is also called sugar diabetes, they are unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin.
By the time the clinical signs appear, they usually are not able to produce any insulin at all.
In dogs, diabetes mellitus probably results from auto destruction of the beta cells in the dog’s pancreas, which is where insulin is normally produced. The cause is unknown, but there is probably a genetic influence.
When insulin is no longer produced, the dog is unable to utilize glucose as an energy source and fat is broken down at an incredible rate and is used for energy instead.
The problem herein is that the net result of utilizing fat solely for energy needs is the buildup of a byproduct called ketones.
When ketone levels in the blood go too high, the blood pH becomes too acidic and this is called diabetic ketoacidosis.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is life threatening. It has to be reversed by giving small amounts of rapid-acting insulin to the patient hourly by intramuscular injection or by constant rate infusion intravenously All the while, electrolytes such as potassium and sodium must be monitored and supplemented as needed through intravenous fluids.
Jane is lucky she survived. Commendations should be passed on to your veterinarian.
As an aside, any dog or cat that has not eaten by 48 hours should be checked out by a veterinarian. If this had been done in Jane’s case, the ketoacidosis and long hospital stay might have been avoided.
– Eliot Kaplan is an Okanagan resident, a doctor of veterinary medicine, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, and a specialist in canine and feline practice. His column appears each week in The Daily Courier.
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