The name ‘metabolic disease’ actually refers to a complex of conditions that dogs can develop or can be born with. Some of these conditions are more difficult to manage than others, but they all involve some imbalances in the patient’s metabolism and the way they react to anything that goes into their body.
In today’s article, we’re looking at what metabolic diseases are, what their symptoms could be depending on each specific one, how they’re diagnosed and treated, and whether or not they can be prevented.
Types of metabolic diseases in dogs
The three main types of metabolic diseases in this species are diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
However, metabolic diseases can generally be split up into two large categories – those that affect the storage in the sense that the pet’s body is unable to break down whatever they eat, for example, and the ones that are related to production, meaning the way that the animal’s body synthesizes certain substances (glucose and calcium are two good examples).
This is one of the reasons why the name ‘disorders’ is also used in relation to metabolic diseases because this type of health complication involves some part of the metabolism mechanism working incorrectly.
A metabolic disorder can also happen as a result of hormonal imbalances. This can mean anything ranging from thyroid disorders to Addison’s disease or Cushing’s disease.
As you can see, the palette when it comes to this class of disease is very large, and that is why the patient has to be diagnosed accurately in order for any type of treatment to be initiated and for the therapy to be truly effective.
Symptoms of metabolic diseases in dogs
The clinical signs that can become noticeable in patients affected by such conditions can vary a lot depending on whichever one they were born with or have developed over time.
Some symptoms of diabetes, for instance, are the following:
- Excessive water consumption
- Increased urination
- Vision problems
- Recurring infections
- Decreased appetite
Several Addison’s disease symptoms are listed below:
- Increased urination and thirst
- Weight loss
- Trembling without an apparent cause
Cushing’s disease can lead to the following symptoms:
- Reduced activity
- Increased thirst and urination
- Hair loss
- Skin infections
- Decreased appetite
As you can see, some of these symptoms are common for all of the previously mentioned conditions, which can make diagnosing the specific one a little challenging.
Obesity is perhaps the easier one to spot just because it is characterized by an increase in weight, a face rounder than normal, tiredness, as well as a refusal to engage in any type of mildly strenuous physical activity.
Diagnosis of canine metabolic diseases
The diagnosis has to focus on discovering the exact cause of the clinical picture. Your vet might perform a number of tests, whether that be an initial physical examination followed by regular blood tests such as a complete blood count and biochemistry or more advanced diagnostic techniques such as a cytology exam, an ultrasound, an X-ray, or other imaging methods.
Because metabolic diseases produce a wide range of confusing symptoms, a differential diagnosis is of utmost importance. Your canine friend may have to be hospitalized until they are accurately diagnosed, also depending on the complexity of the tests performed.
Can metabolic diseases in dogs be treated?
The answer to this question is that it really depends on several different factors, such as the disease itself and its severity, the degree of danger it poses to the animal’s health or life, and their previous health status and age.
Seniors aren’t well-equipped to handle very lengthy aggressive treatments, so the veterinarian needs to properly communicate with the pet owner so as to choose the right therapy.
Time is of the essence in the majority of these conditions, though, because otherwise, the animal could develop a plethora of complications that could make treatment much more difficult (sometimes impossible).
If your dog is generally healthy and the only health issue they have is obesity (let’s say they haven’t developed diabetes yet), your vet could recommend some serious changes in their diet, along with the obvious recommendation that you never give them food scraps.
If the pet is not extremely obese, although it can take up to a year or more, weight loss is a goal that’s completely achievable, especially with modifications of their routine where they get a bit more light exercise (just increasing their daily walks by 10-20 minutes can make a difference when done gradually).
Depending on the dog’s exact metabolic disease, you may have to switch your pooch to a raw diet or one where you cook their food. Some additives in commercial pet diets these days can lead to metabolic disorders if the animal’s system is prone to developing them easily.
Can you prevent metabolic diseases?
It depends on the specific metabolic disorders. Some dogs can be born with some of those that we have mentioned in this article, which means that their conditions will have to be managed properly for the entire duration of their life.
With the metabolic diseases that are developed over time, it all depends on how complicated they get. Obesity and diabetes are fairly easy to manage compared to the more severe manifestations of Addison’s disease or Cushing’s disease, for example.