When Awareness Leads to Prevention: Guarding Against Pet Diabetes

Pet diabetes is a serious pet health concern, but it also very treatable

As it’s commonly referred to in pets, diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas. Responsible for the production and secretion of insulin, a healthy pancreas will produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. In a diabetic cat or dog, there’s either a shortage of insulin or there isn’t a normal response to the hormone. Since 2011 the diagnosis of diabetes has increased 32% in canines and 16% in felines.

While the exact cause of pet diabetes is unknown, it’s well-documented that extra weight can dramatically impact the development of the disease. Over 50% of all dogs and cats are overweight or obese. Since we can control the type and amount of food that pets receive, preventing diabetes is possible.

Between the Lines

After your pet eats, their body breaks down fiber and starches into glucose. Absorbed by the bloodstream and transferred into cells, glucose depends on a hormone called insulin. In a pet with diabetes, insulin production is either impaired or insufficient, allowing glucose to build up in the blood. Without insulin the glucose cannot be utilized as an energy source and therefore builds up in the blood stream.  Eventually, it’s eliminated through urine, causing the following symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst (polydipsia)
  • Intensified hunger (polyphagia)
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dull coat
  • Cloudy eyes

The Fine Print

Early diagnosis is imperative to return your pet to proper health. Left untreated diabetes mellitus can lead to a life threatening condition call diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetes is confirmed by documenting persistently elevated blood glucose(hyperglycemia) and elevated urine glucose (glucosuria). Other testing may be needed to ensure no other diseases or complicating factors are evident.

Managing Pet Diabetes

It’s better if pet diabetes is detected early. Most pets can regain a high quality of life once a treatment plan is underway. Successful management of the disease includes:

  • Dietary changes – It’s important that your pet is fed a diet appropriate for their age and lifestyle. If your pet needs to lose a few pounds, we can help. Weight loss and maintaining an ideal body weight are key to proper control.
  • Insulin therapy – Insulin therapy is a key component to treatment. It may seem daunting at first, but injecting insulin into your pet is one of the fastest and most effective ways to treat the disease. We can assist you with this process until you feel comfortable doing it on your own.
  • Daily monitoring – Taking charge of your pet’s daily glucose levels is critical to administering insulin injections. Similarly, measuring how much your pet eats and drinks, and how much urine is produced are key components into gauging how your pet is responding to treatment. Watching for changes in behavior is also important.
  • Routine visits – Because every pet responds differently to treatment, we urge owners to keep up routine hospital visits. Together, we will develop a plan to best follow up on the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment. It is only through careful monitoring that adequate control can be achieved.
  • Movement – Even if your pet isn’t considered overweight or obese, daily exercise is critical for their health. Movement also increases mental acuity and contributes to longevity.

If you have additional questions or concerns about pet diabetes, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.

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About Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center

Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center provides top-quality veterinary care to the Rutland, VT pet community.