We have a NEW member of the Vet News Editorial Team in the form of Harriet Woodhall, who has taken on the mantle of covering articles of interest in the small animal sphere. So, big welcome to you Harriet and thank you for your first article, which this month is on Canine Diabetes Mellitus.
But before we start….. an intro 🙂
I’m 17 and will be applying for Vet School in September. I live just outside Cambridge along with two (adorable) black Labradors and some chickens. Aside from researching and studying I’m very interested in the conservation of wild species and enjoy playing piano.
Canine Diabetes Mellitus
Harriet Woodhall (Vet News Small Animal Editor)
It is estimated that approximately 1 in 500 dogs develop diabetes and although there are certain breeds that are more susceptible, (Golden Retrievers, Keeshond and Poodles being just a few), all breeds of dog can be affected, most often when middle aged or older.
The disease is caused by inadequate/complete lack of insulin from islet cells in the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone responsible for controlling the concentrations of glucose in the blood – this is achieved by preventing glucose production in the liver and making sure that excess glucose is put into storage.
Common signs of diabetes mellitus include polyuria (production of too much dilute urine), polydipsia (excessive thirst) and polyphagia (losing weight despite increase appetite). Cataracts are also often seen in diabetic dogs due to increased glucose levels. Along with the clinical signs, hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels) and glycosuria (sugar in the urine) are often enough of an indication for diagnosis. Diabetes is best diagnosed early, as when left untreated serious secondary complications can arise such as diabetes ketoacidosis.
Like humans, dogs can have insulin therapy, most having two insulin injections a day. Bitches should be spayed, as the hormone progesterone produced by the ovaries has a negative influence on insulin. In combination with injections it is recommended to have diet, exercise and weight control. For dogs, a diet high in fibre and complex carbohydrates is suggested, so glucose is more easily controlled and released more slowly.
Researchers in Barcelona have recently been able to cure diabetes in Beagles with gene therapy. The Beagles were given two extra genes which work together to reduce hyperglycaemia. One gene produces the insulin needed and the other produces an enzyme called Glucokinase, responsible for regulating the uptake amount of glucose from the blood. The genes are transferred by adeno-associated vectors, also a new technology. Using a non-pathogenic virus, the genes can be injected into the hind legs of the dog in a single session.
As the first successful study of its kind, there will need to be more evidence using a larger test sample. However, it seems the future use of gene therapy could provide a more effective and practical method of controlling diabetes in dogs
Callejas D, Mann CJ, Ayuso E, Lage R, Grifoll I, Roca C, Andaluz A, Ruiz-de Gopegui R, Montane J, Munoz S, Ferre T, Haurigot V, Zhou S, Ruberte J, Mingozzi F, High K, Garcia F, Bosch F. Treatment of Diabetes and Long-term Survival Following Insulin and Glucokinase Gene Therapy.