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Dogs and Diabetes: Glucose Monitoring Device


Man’s best friend has lived up to its honorary title in many ways, not least of which is the critical role dogs played in diabetes in 1922. That’s the year insulin was isolated from canines, which then started the cascade of development in human medicine that has made diabetes a treatable condition today. Now it’s time to say “thank you” with more than a pat on the head and a dog biscuit.

At the University of Missouri, Charles Wiedmeyer, assistant professor of clinical pathology in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, is using a continuous glucose monitoring device to treat dogs, horses, and other animals. The device, which provides a detailed picture of a patients’ glucose status over several days, is currently used to treat diabetes in people.

According to Wiedmeyer, “dogs with diabetes are similar to children with diabetes. Both rely on caregivers to manage their disease. Both have little control over their diet or when they receive insulin." Dogs also share many of the same symptoms of diabetes as humans, including weight loss, increased urination, and excessive thirst and water consumption. Some dogs, however, do not display symptoms and still have the disease.

Diabetes in dogs is hereditary, and it is also considered to be an autoimmune condition that may lead to further system failures. It is critical to secure an early diagnosis of diabetes in dogs, which can be done with a simple blood glucose test.

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Like humans, dogs can get both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the latter type normally occurring in older dogs. Aside from older dogs, bigger dogs are more likely to get diabetes than smaller breeds, and obese female dogs are even more prone to diabetes. Dogs with diabetes typically require daily injections of insulin.

Wiedmeyer has found that use of a continuous glucose monitoring device in dogs and other animals reduces the need for multiple blood samples and the stress associated with getting those samples. The monitor, which is placed under the skin between the shoulder blades of an animal, records blood glucose levels every five minutes. It allows a vet to identify the proper dosage of insulin and how an animal’s diet is affecting the diabetes.

Although dogs can develop complications from diabetes, they usually are not as severe as those experienced by humans. Cataracts are one problem that can occur, and they can be removed surgically.

Wiedmeyer hopes companies will produce continuous glucose monitoring devices especially for dogs and other animals that have diabetes. Such a measure seems only fair, given that dogs were so instrumental in developing the life-saving insulin therapy for humans.

University of Missouri-Columbia