Diabetes is a common condition that occurs in dogs and cats. It is more common in older pets; but it can occur in any pet, at any age, and even during pregnancy. It is not curable, but it is manageable. With proper treatment, diet, and exercise, diabetic pets can live a long, happy life!
Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a common condition that occurs when the body cannot use a type of sugar called glucose. Insulin, which is a hormone, is made by the pancreas and is needed to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells so the body can use the glucose. As food passes through the intestines, sugars are one of the nutrients absorbed from the food. These sugars are then delivered to the bloodstream for circulation and delivery to the body’s tissues and cells to be used. If the pet doesn’t have enough insulin, glucose doesn’t get delivered to the cells and it accumulates in high levels in the blood stream. The body isn’t getting the energy it needs so the cells are starved. This in turn causes the body to start breaking down fat and muscle tissue which is why pets start to lose weight with diabetes.
Noticing early signs is very important. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance to get it under control faster and for your pet to have a longer, healthier life.
-weight loss despite the increased appetite (most have an increase in appetite some can have a decreased appetite)
-chronic or recurring infections (urinary tract infections, skin infections, etc…)
Diabetes can occur in any dog or cat at any age, but dogs are usually diagnosed between 4 to 14 years old and cats are usually diagnosed older than 6 years. Diabetes occurs in females more commonly than males. Obesity is often linked with diabetes. Other underlying diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and over-active thyroid (in cats) can also contribute to the risk of diabetes. Long term use of corticosteroids can also increase the risk for developing diabetes.
If you notice any signs suggestive of diabetes in your pet, you need to bring them in for an exam and diagnostics. We check the blood and the urine to see if there are high levels of glucose present. We often perform bloodwork to check for other possible underlying medical issues. Once a diagnosis of diabetes is made, we start treatment.
Treatment for diabetes includes use of insulin, special diets, and regular exercise. Based on the medical condition of the pet, the type and amount of insulin varies. All insulin for pets is injectable; but don’t worry, we will teach you how to give the insulin at home. It is a very small needle and most pets are very tolerant of the injections. It is a little stressful the first week because you are not used to it, but after that, it becomes habit and you find you have easily included it into your daily routine.
It is recommended that dogs are fed a high fiber diet; however, cats should eat a low carbohydrate, high protein diet. We will help you determine the best diet for your pet.
Daily exercise is very important, and we will help develop an appropriate exercise program for your pet based on factors such as their age, overall health, and weight. We all KNOW how easy and fun (yeah right) it is to get a cat on a daily fitness regimen, but we will also help you with that.
Once we start them on insulin, we may have to periodically adjust the dose based on the response of the pet and the results of monitoring. Successful treatment depends on regular exams, monitoring of blood and urine glucose levels, and monitoring your pets weight, appetite, water consumption, and urination.
Diabetic dogs and cats can live long and healthy lives with proper management and veterinary care. If you notice that your pet has any signs suggestive of diabetes, bring them in so we can check them out. We have cared for many diabetic dogs and cats and I have owned a diabetic dog, so we are well aware of how important their care is to insure they have a long happy life.