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Dear Daisy Dog

Our little dog, Maddie, was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus at three years of age.

She became listless and drank lots of water and, despite our veterinarian’s best efforts, she died less than a month later.

Could inbreeding have caused her diabetes? Is there a test to show if a puppy is prone to diabetes?

Daisy Responds

We are so sorry to hear about Maddie.

Canine diabetes mellitus (high blood sugar due to insufficient insulin) has many causes. One of these, in some breeds, is genetics.

While diabetes sometimes can be inherited, standard laboratory tests cannot determine whether a puppy will develop diabetes as an adult.

Another cause of diabetes is chronic, recurrent pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin. Repeated episodes of pancreatitis, for instance from eating a high-fat diet, eventually destroy the cells that make insulin.

Still another cause of diabetes is overuse of steroids, just one of many reasons veterinarians don’t like us to take prednisone for long periods of time.

Inbreeding alone doesn’t cause diabetes or other diseases. One of the healthiest of all animals is the white laboratory mouse, which is also one of the most inbred animal species.
However, inherited diabetes may be perpetuated by people who breed dogs with diabetic relatives.

To minimize the chances that your next dog will be genetically predisposed to diabetes or other diseases, work with a reputable breeder who tells you in detail about the health of your pup’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

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