It is not uncommon for vets to diagnose diabetes mellitus in dogs. And it is not as scary as it used to be because, with proper medication and proper food, your dog can live a long and happy life.
However, in some cases, some complications may occur, especially in dogs that suffer from this condition. One of those situations is ketoacidosis, which is a potentially life-threatening condition and it requires immediate veterinary care.
What is ketoacidosis and why does it occur in dogs?
Diabetes is a condition where the body either does not produce insulin, or the cells are not able to recognize the presence of it. This leads to a situation where the cells are “sugar hungry” and they lack energy in order for them to work properly.
When the cells don’t get sugar, they signal the body that there is no energy, telling them that something needs to happen so that they don’t stay hungry.
So the body starts to create energy on its own. In order to do so, it uses the fat which is stored around the body. During the process of conversion, ketones are created and they are poisonous to the body.
Everything will be okay if the cells get the energy they need. However, if ketone protection continues, it usually leads to acid-base disbalance.
In cases like this, when there is a large number of ketones in the body, the body becomes more acidic, which causes a change in the fluid balance. This can lead to more changes, especially disrupting the work of the heart, which is why if this condition is left untreated it will most certainly lead to death.
What can cause ketoacidosis in dogs?
There are numerous reasons for ketoacidosis to occur, especially if the dog is diabetic. Among those are infection or other metabolic conditions such as hyperadrenocorticism, where there is excessive production of stress hormones that leads to impaired production of insulin.
What are the signs of dogs with ketoacidosis?
Owners may notice different signs in their diabetic dog and all of them are concerning and require veterinary care. The most common issue with the symptoms is that they are also common for other illnesses which is why visiting the vet is mandatory. Here is a list of the most commonly seen:
- frequent urination and water consumption
- weight loss and muscle wasting
- loss of appetite
- increased respiration rate even when the dog is resting
How is ketoacidosis diagnosed in dogs?
Diagnosing this condition is not that hard especially if your vet knows that the vet is diabetic. Usually what he does is draw up some blood and measure the sugar level. Another way is to determine whether ketones are present in the urine.
Treatment options for dogs with ketoacidosis
Dogs that come in are usually so severely dehydrated that they may even require a central line in order for them to be properly rehydrated faster. They also get medication to help them correct the electrolyte imbalance, as well as short-acting insulin to lower the glucose level in the blood.
Heart rate and blood pressure are also monitored and if the dog is feeling nauseous or vomiting, they are given drugs to help them with this. Dogs with ketoacidosis also get medical diets that are specially designed for this condition. However, they may be reluctant to eat so feeding tubes may be placed as well.
How can I prevent ketoacidosis in my diabetic dog?
The best way to prevent this from happening is to regularly monitor the blood glucose level in your dog and administer the insulin as prescribed by your vet. They will also teach you how and when it is recommended to check the glucose levels and trust me your dog will not be against it as it may not even notice the pinch. All you need for glucose measurement is a drop of blood.
If this condition is caught on time and treated, dogs do not make a full recovery without any consequences.
Owners could pay up to $3000 for treatment of ketoacidosis, prices may vary depending on the veterinary clinic or the condition of your dog when it is brought for a visit or as an emergency.