Pet Diabetes 101

iStock_000049715082_Large.jpgAs one of the leading causes of death in the Unites States, there’s no doubt that diabetes is an epidemic in our country. The family pet is probably not who you think of when diabetes is mentioned, but unfortunately this serious condition extends to dogs and cats as well.

In order to effectively prevent, diagnose and treat diabetes in our pets, it’s critical to educate yourself regarding the symptoms and potential causes of this dangerous disease.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas. In a healthy animal, the pancreas produces insulin, a chemical responsible for proper glucose metabolism. In a diabetic animal, the pancreas either doesn’t produce adequate insulin or the pet’s body cannot effectively use the insulin produced, leading to insulin resistance.

Signs And Symptoms

It’s important to be familiar with your pet’s health norms in order to catch the symptoms of diabetes before the disease advances.  Diabetes manifests in similar ways for pets as for humans:

  • Increase appetite (early on in the disease)
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Loss of appetite (as the disease progresses)
  • Pungent, “chemical” or “sweet” smelling breath
  • Lethargy
  • Overall weakness
  • Vomiting/dehydration

Diabetes in pets is diagnosed by a combination of symptoms along with a consistently high blood glucose level and the presence of glucose in the urine.

Treatment Of Diabetes In Pets

Diabetes in pets is generally treated with a medley of dietary changes and insulin injections. If the disease is caught in the early stages, treatment is relatively simple and cost-effective.

What Is My Pet’s Prognosis?

Although diabetes isn’t curable, once your pet’s symptoms are under control his or her prognosis for a long and happy life is good. Your pet’s diet will need to be regulated and he or she will likely always require insulin injections, but these changes won’t put a strain on your pocketbook and can easily be incorporated into the daily care routine you already have in place for your pet.

Preventing Diabetes In Pets

While the specific causes of diabetes aren’t always known and can vary widely among individual pets, we do know that obesity is a major risk factor for the disease. In the past several years, obesity has risen by an estimated 37 percent in dogs and 90% in cats. Keeping your pets active and at a healthy weight is critical in the prevention of diabetes.

If you haven’t already, bring your pet in for a wellness exam aimed at establishing your pet’s health baseline. With regular checkups and your careful observation, a pet’s symptoms can be caught early and treatment can begin right away.

If your pet is exhibiting any of the symptoms of diabetes, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.