November is National Pet Diabetes Month. This month-long drive opens the door for owners to learn about prevention, and why early detection is so meaningful. As a common condition facing many cats and dogs, pet diabetes is a huge priority for veterinary experts. Treatment is effective and available, but left alone, pet diabetes can cause serious health risks.
Types of Pet Diabetes
Pet diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, concerns the body’s inability to control healthy levels of blood glucose.
Type 1 occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce adequate levels of the critical hormone insulin. This is the most common type of pet diabetes, and is the result of damage to the cells in the pancreas. Insulin injections are critical in these cases.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is resistant to the levels of insulin created by the pancreas, or something interferes with the body’s ability to use the insulin. This is commonly seen in overweight or obese pets, or is a secondary disease to another hormonal disorder. If treated early on, long term insulin support might not be required.
The Importance of Insulin
Without proper levels of insulin, the body cannot effectively convert food into energy. One of the first signs of pet diabetes is an uncharacteristic loss of energy or interest in activities. Due to insulin deficiency, blood sugar levels increase and sugar and excess water is excreted into the urine. After lethargy, increased thirst and urination are the telltale signs of pet diabetes.
We also recommend watching for the following known symptoms:
- Soiling inside the house
- Increased hunger, decreased weight
- Coat problems–like flaky skin or an oily coat
- Recurring infections
- Cloudy eyes
Predispositions to Pet Diabetes
Certain breeds, including golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, labradors, Maine coon cats, and Siamese cats are known to be genetically predisposed to diabetes. There are also medical conditions, like Cushing’s disease, that complicate the body’s natural processes, causing or exacerbating pet diabetes.
Age and weight also play vital roles in pet diabetes, with older and heavier pets commonly diagnosed.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Testing the urine for glucose and elevated blood glucose (sugar) can lead to diagnosis. A blood test can also be helpful, and may rule out other disorders that are concurrent with pet diabetes.
Treating pet diabetes is possible and typically involves the following:
- Managing a healthy diet free of treats and table scraps
- Increasing exercise
- Watching for symptoms
- Administering oral medication to lower blood sugar
The type of pet diabetes will determine whether or not insulin is required. Once symptoms are under control, we work closely with pet owners to maintain daily, life-long insulin injections. Sometimes, if caught early on, weight is effectively reduced, and exercise is maintained, some pets with diabetes go into remission.
Hand In Paw
Pet diabetes can be a scary diagnosis, but our treatment plans allow for lots of support, ongoing testing, and day-to-day management. With time, we can work together towards providing care for a long, healthy life for your pet.