Canine Diabetes Mellitus Study

Dr. Allison O'Kell examines Finn, a 4-year-old black Lab, before drawing a blood sample for a study she is involved in relating to diabetes in dogs and in people.

Dr. Allison O’Kell examines Finn, a 4-year-old, healthy black Lab, before drawing a blood sample for a canine diabetes study she is leading.

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is currently recruiting dogs with diabetes for a clinical research study. The study will evaluate blood tests that may help determine the cause of canine diabetes and help predict which dogs may develop the disease.

The study has 3 parts. Your dog may be eligible to participate in more than one part of the study. This can be discussed with the study doctor (Dr. O’Kell).

Part 1: Study of Diabetic Dogs over Time

  • Inclusion Criteria: Adult dogs (>1 year) with a “new” diagnosis (within the past couple of weeks) of diabetes mellitus. Healthy adult control dogs are also needed.
  • Exclusion criteria: Dogs suspect of having pregnancy associated or diestrus diabetes, or dogs with hyperadrenocorticism.
  • Procedures: The study consists of 3 visits: a baseline visit, a visit 6 months later, and a visit 12 months later. Your dog will need to be fasted overnight before the study visits. At each visit, we will collect a brief medical history, conduct a brief physical exam, and collect a small sample of blood. Your dog will also have a mixed meal tolerance test, which involves feeding a tasty liquid meal (Ensure Plus) and then drawing several blood samples for 90 minutes after the meal. The blood will be used to test pancreatic function and look for other blood metabolic markers.  Blood will also be frozen and banked for future testing. Additionally, we will perform baseline bloodwork (CBC, biochemistry) and collect a urine sample. You will receive the results of the basic bloodwork and urine testing at no charge to you.
  • Costs: The study will cover the cost of all of the procedures listed above performed specifically for the study. If your dog has a concurrent clinical appointment at the UF Small Animal Hospital, any costs related to that appointment will be the responsibility of the client.

Part 2: Immune Function in Diabetes

  • Inclusion Criteria: Adult dogs (>1 year) with a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus (newly diagnosed or long term disease). Healthy adult control dogs are also needed.
  • Exclusion criteria: Dogs suspect of having pregnancy associated or diestrus diabetes, or dogs with hyperadrenocorticism.
  • Procedures: The study consists of a single visit. At this visit, we will collect a brief medical history, conduct a brief physical exam, and collect a small sample of blood. Blood for this part of the study will be used in tests of immune function, but you will not receive the results of these tests. If your dog has not had baseline bloodwork in the past 3 months, we may run a CBC and biochemistry (depending on your dog’s history) at no charge to you.  Blood will also be frozen and banked for future testing. You will receive the results of a blood sugar reading taken on that blood sample.
  • Costs: The study will cover the cost of all of the procedures listed above. If your dog has a concurrent clinical appointment at the UF Small Animal Hospital, any costs related to that appointment will be the responsibility of the client.

Part 3: Identification of Pre-Diabetes

  • Inclusion Criteria:  Middle aged to older dog, and is of a breed known to be at risk for diabetes (Samoyed, Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle, Pug, Toy Poodle, Tibetan Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Border Terrier, Australian Terrier, Standard Schnauzer, Fox Terrier, Keeshond, Bichon Frise, Finnish Spitz, and Siberian Husky, Dachshund). Mixed breed dogs or other pure breeds may also be enrolled on a case by case basis.
  • Exclusion criteria: Dogs with serious concurrent illness with an expected lifespan of less than 1-2 years.
  • Procedures: The study consists of a visit to the hospital every 6 months for up to 4 years. Your dog will need to be fasted overnight before the study visits. At each visit, we will collect a brief medical history, conduct a brief physical exam, and collect a small sample of blood that will be used to test blood sugar, fructosamine, and other markers of blood sugar. If your dog has not had baseline bloodwork in the past 3 months, we will run a CBC and biochemistry at no charge to you during the first study visit. Blood will also be frozen and banked for future testing. If at any visit your dog’s fructosamine level is above the normal range, we will ask your dog to join a “high risk’ group. High risk group dogs will come back for study visits every 3 months. These visits will be similar to that described above, with the addition of a mixed meal tolerance test to evaluate pancreatic function. This test involves feeding a tasty liquid meal (Ensure Plus) and then drawing several blood samples for 90 minutes after the meal. You will receive the results of blood sugar readings as well as fructosamine levels from each visit, and the CBC and biochemistry if applicable.
  • Costs: The study will cover the cost of all of the procedures listed above. If your dog has a concurrent clinical appointment at the UF Small Animal Hospital, any costs related to that appointment will be the responsibility of the client.

If you are interested in having your diabetic or healthy dog participate or want to learn more, please feel free to contact:

  • PI: Allison O’Kell, DVM, MS, DACVIM   (352) 294-4471  aokell@ufl.edu

OR

  • Study Coordinator: Lana Fagman, MS, Clinical Research Coordinator  (352) 294-4389   VM-ClinicalStudies@ufl.edu

Background:

Diabetes mellitus is an important health problem in both dogs and people. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is caused by destruction of cells in the pancreas. This leads to a lack of a hormone produced in the pancreas called insulin that is responsible for decreasing blood sugar levels. T1D in people is caused by an attack by the body’s own immune system on cells in the pancreas (aka autoimmunity). Despite years of research, the exact reason for this immune attack is not known. Canine diabetes is similar to T1D in people and may also be due to autoimmunity, however research so far has not given a clear answer. We believe that detecting dogs that are at risk of diabetes, or dogs that are in the early stages of disease, may be key to discovering why dogs get diabetes and whether early treatment may beneficial. Also, detailed studies of pancreatic function and metabolism over time have not been performed in diabetic dogs. In order to determine the cause of diabetes in dogs and to determine whether these dogs can be used as a model for the disease in people, more research is needed. The purpose of this study is 1) to learn more about metabolism and immune function in diabetic dogs, both at a single time point and over time, and 2) to identify dogs of breeds at high risk for diabetes and follow them over time to look for blood markers that may help predict future diabetes or identify dogs with very early diabetes.

This research is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disesaes of the National Institutes of Health under grant number K08DK116735. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.