We’re seeing more and more dogs and cats with diabetes at our practice. In some cases, it is a genetic condition, but obesity, inactivity, diet, and underlying medical conditions can predispose a dog or cat to develop diabetes.
Know the Signs of Diabetes in Your Dog or Cat
- Excessive water drinking and increased urination
- Weight loss, even though there may be an increased appetite
- Decreased appetite cloudy eyes (especially in dogs)
- Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)
What Pets are at Risk for Diabetes and Why?
Diabetes is common in middle-aged dogs and middle-aged to older cats. Female dogs are more likely than males to have diabetes, while obese male cats are more commonly affected by diabetes.
Research suggests that Samoyeds and Keeshonds top the dog list for predisposition to diabetes, while Burmese, Shorthairs, Maine Coon and Abyssinian top the cat list.
If your pet is exhibiting signs of diabetes call us and have your pet checked immediately. We’ll determine if there is consistent evidence of hyperglycemia and glucosuria through bloodwork and urinalysis. We’ll also check for other related medical conditions.
Call immediately if your pet is vomiting or disoriented. This may be a sign of ketoacidosis or DKA. Without aggressive treatment, diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to brain swelling, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and rapid death.
Regular examination of older dogs and cats is good practice because some age-related diseases or conditions can sometimes be confused with diabetes.
What is Pet Diabetes?
Well, it’s all about insulin and glucose just like in humans. Glucose or blood sugar is the main source of energy for your pet’s cells. Insulin allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the cell, where the blood sugar does its work for maintaining the body.
Without the right level of insulin, glucose can’t enter the cells. It accumulates in the bloodstream; meanwhile, the cells become starved for an energy source and the body begins to break down stores of fat and protein as alternative energy. The result is a condition known as hypoglycemia, which can cause your dog or cat to eat more, yet still lose weight.The excess glucose is eliminated by excretion into the urine with other body fluids. This is called glucosuria, and your pet will drink more and more water to avoid dehydration.
How to Manage Your Pet’s Diabetes?
The good news is that, if treated, a diabetic dog or cat can live a long life. Together, we can get your pet back on track, but you’ll have to learn some new skills and habits.
The first key is to manage your pet’s blood sugar, avoiding too-high or too-low levels. Insulin therapy and a regular feeding schedule will do the trick.
First, we’ll show you how to administer insulin shots under the skin. You’ll get the hang of it quickly. In our experience, pets tolerate the small needle easily.
Next, a regular feeding schedule is critical to your diabetic pet’s health. A normal appetite insures your pet is eating and absorbing enough sugars to balance the insulin’s effect of removing the sugars from the bloodstream. We’ll regularly examine and test your pet’s blood and urine sugar, and of course we’re happy to show you how to do this at home.
A diet high in fiber and a low-carbohydrate intake, accompanied by daily exercise are recommended, but weight, overall health, and age will determine what steps to take for your animal.
Knowing the signs of diabetes and understanding how it works is the first step to keeping your pet healthy. Should your pet acquire diabetes, you can still expect a long life, that is, if your animals receives the right therapy, proper eating habits, and regular checkups.