In addition to his unexplained weight loss, his physical exam revealed a mild superficial bacterial dermatitis that was already starting to improve. Weight loss in the presence of a good appetite and no change to diet can be caused by a number of different things and should be investigated further. Common causes can include, but are not limited to, endocrine (hormonal) disease, renal (kidney) and hepatic (liver) disease, heavy parasite burdens and cancer. Oskar’s owners wanted to investigate his weight loss, so we collected a blood sample to send to our pathology laboratory.
Oskar’s blood test confirmed Diabetes mellitus. Diabetes in dogs is caused by an insulin deficiency. This means the body is not able to use the glucose (sugar) in foods, so it remains in the bloodstream. This, in turn, means that the body cannot get any of its required energy and has to rely on energy stores from the body. As the sugar levels build up in the bloodstream, clinical signs will start to develop, and eventually, the energy stores from the body will run out and can cause the pet to get very sick. The main clinical signs of diabetes include excessive thirst, urination, appetite and weight loss. Diabetes as a disease is not able to be cured but it can be treated and managed. Management is lifelong via the use of injectable insulin and is aimed at reducing clinical signs and keeping the blood sugar levels at a steady state.
This is what Oskar’s owners decided to do.
Oskar’s treatment started as a day stay in hospital. He was given his first dose of insulin and his blood glucose levels (Glucose curve) were monitored. After making sure his glucose levels didn’t drop too low (hypoglycaemia), he was able to go home to continue treatment with his family. Oskar’s wonderful owners will need to give him an insulin injection twice daily (every 12 hours) for the rest of his life. In addition to his new medication, Oskar will also need to be on a strict diet and feeding pattern and he will need to have regular weight checks and monitoring of water consumption.
After 2 weeks of insulin treatment at home, Oskar revisited our hospital to repeat his blood glucose curve. His results showed he still had higher than wanted sugar levels and no change to his clinical signs or weight. After confirming with the owners that they were doing an excellent job of administering the correct dose, Oskar’s mediation was increased and he is going to spend the next few weeks on this new dose.
Newly treated diabetics, such as Oskar, need regular revisits to the hospital over the next few months to make sure they have the correct dose to maintain adequate sugar levels. Once Oskar’s glucose levels are maintained, and with his ongoing treatment and care at home, Oskar should be able to get back to his very comfortable life and will be able to put his weight back on! We were not able to get a photo of Oskar when he came in so we are using stock photos.
If your pet is showing any of the clinical signs discussed above give your local AdvelaideVet a call and we can book an appointment with the vet.
Written by Dr Stephanie Ortega, Veterinarian.