Testing for Diabetic Ketoacidosis Symptoms in Dogs

As with humans, sometimes diabetic dogs require insulin shots.
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Diabetic ketoacidosis is an extreme form of hyperglycemia, during which ketones build up in the bloodstream. Ketoacidosis can be fatal, so it’s essential to contact your veterinarian as soon as symptoms arise. Symptoms can include vomiting, weakness, rapid breathing and the odor of acetone on the breath. Your veterinarian will perform a variety of tests to determine if your diabetic dog is suffering from ketoacidosis, including blood testing and urine dipsticks. Your dog might need to stay at the vet for around-the-clock monitoring.

Blood Testing for Ketoacidosis

Your veterinarian performs a blood test to determine if your dog is suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis. He collects a small amount of blood, testing it for high circulating blood sugar levels and blood pH levels, as well as phosphorus and potassium levels. Electrolyte levels can fluctuate, so he might perform several tests over a period of time to create a record of imbalances, as well as determine which intravenous fluids would best benefit your dog. Blood tests continue until your dog shows significant improvement.

Urine Dipstick Test for Ketones

While caring for your pet, the vet places a catheter inside the dog to collect urine. He tests the urine with a dipstick to perform a routine urinalysis, which he's likely to repeat many times during your dog’s emergency care stay. When a urine dipstick no longer reads positive for ketones, your dog is well on his way to recovery.

Around-the-Clock Monitoring and Fluid Therapy

During ketoacidosis, your dog’s cells experience a severe loss of glucose. This can be dangerous, so early detection is best. If possible, get your dog into a 24-hour care facility as soon as you notice symptoms. The vet closely monitors your dog, ensuring he is treated for any infections, including inflammatory disease and pancreatitis. He gives your dog fluids to keep your dog in a stable condition. Fluid therapy is a key treatment, as the IV provides your dog with hydration, insulin to improve glucose levels and potassium.

At-Home Monitoring for Ketoacidosis

Your veterinarian will discharge your dog when tests show there are no ketones in his blood stream, as well as when he is eating well and acting healthy. Although your dog may return to normal activity, he’s still high-risk for ketoacidosis. Continue diabetic treatments at home and monitor him for symptoms of ketoacidosis. Your veterinarian should provide you with information about basic home care, which may include suggestions for diet and exercise. You may also need to administer diabetes medications. The ASPCA recommends spaying your female dogs, as female hormones can affect blood sugar levels.