I just learned that November is Diabetes Awareness Month. I thought I would share some information on diabetes in cats and dogs, as it is something we encounter regularly.
Dogs and cats with diabetes can live a normal, healthy life with appropriate treatment and monitoring.
Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) in dogs and cats results from a shortage of insulin. When you pet’s body produces little or no insulin or if it can’t be absorbed properly, glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood instead of being used for fuel.
What is diabetes?
Pets with diabetes cannot produce or utilize insulin properly, preventing the conversion of food to energy. Overtime, weight loss ensues despite a ravenous appetite. Diabetes in dogs and cats can occur at any age. Most dogs are diagnosed at roughly 7-10 years of age. Diabetes cannot be cured, but with proper treatment and monitoring, you pet can live a long, happy life!
The signs of diabetes are:
- Urinates frequently or in large amounts
- Drinks lots of water
- Always hungry
- Weight loss
- Cloudy eye (dogs)
- Dull or dry coat (cats)
- Sleeps more or is less active
If you are noticing any changes like this, you need to bring you pet in for an exam. We will perform a general exam, a urinalysis to test for glucosuria (glucose in the urine), ketonuria (ketones are formed when the body breaks down itself for fuel because it cannot break down the glucose), and evaluate for a urinary tract infection (these commonly occur with diabetes as the glucose in the urine is a good food source for bacteria), and take blood to evaluate glucose levels along with other enzyme levels to make sure we don’t miss any other disease process.
Diabetes can be managed successfully with proper treatment, diet and exercise. The goal in managing diabetes is to keep glucose concentrations regulated, avoiding spikes and drops. Because diabetes is caused by a lack or shortage of insulin, your dog or cat will need management with insulin injections. We will teach you everything you need to know about giving the insulin and monitoring for any adverse effects.
Can you prevent diabetes? While there is a genetic component to developing diabetes, environmental factors also play a roll. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight will help greatly to reduce the risk of DM, as well as other ailments. Feeding your pet a healthy, well balanced diet is also important. In dogs, stay away from or limit the semi- soft foods (many treats like “Beggin’ Strips”). In cats, feed canned foods as the main component of the diet, but avoid canned foods that say “in gravy” or “in sauce”.
As always, if you have questions, we are here for you.