Diabetes Can Be a Silent Killer
Unless You're Aware
There are many ailments humans, dogs and cats share. Diabetes is one of them. THE GOOD NEWS IS diabetes in pets can be managed even though it is not curable. In a nutshell, diabetes is caused by a problem with insulin—either a lack of it or the body’s inability to respond appropriately to it. After cats and dogs (and humans) eat, digestive systems break down the food with the help of insulin. In diabetic animals, their bodies either do not produce insulin or cannot utilize it properly. This means blood sugar levels get elevated.
Diabetes Signs & Symptoms
Here are some signs that you need to get things checked out:
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Excessive thirst/increased drinking
- Weight loss or vomiting
- Increased urination
- Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
- Urinary tract infections
- Problems with motor function
- Cataract formation, blindness
- Chronic skin infections.
What Causes Diabetes in Pets
Is your pet prone to diabetes? Here are some traits/factors that increase their risk:
- Older age (6+)
- Those who’ve undergone long term use of steroids (or some other medications)
- Pets with Cushing’s Disease, chronic pancreatitis or other contributing conditions
- Unspayed females
Dog Breeds Susceptible to Diabetes
Some breeds of dogs run a greater risk, including Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes is also particularly prevalent in golden retrievers and keeshonds.
What do you do if you see some of the signs in your furry family member?
Diabetes is diagnosed by the presence of the typical clinical signs (excess thirst, excess urination, excess appetite, and weight loss), a persistently high level of glucose in the blood, and the presence of glucose in the urine. Left untreated, diabetes can cause significant organ damage, often the kidney, eyes, heart, blood vessels, and/or nerves. Ultimately, untreated diabetes can cause coma and death.
Get to your vet who will perform blood and urine tests to check for diabetes!
What if my pet IS diabetic?
Don’t despair! The treatment isn't as scary as you might think. Once the condition is diagnosed and blood sugar levels stabilized, vets will typically treat with oral medication.
Changes in diet can positively affect the course of diabetes, and will sometimes help send a pet into remission. According to Dr. M. Becker, DVM, “studies have shown that diabetic cats who eat high-protein, high fiber, low-carbohydrate foods are easier to manage and may sometimes even go back to normal, meaning they no longer need insulin injections. However, a diet change isn't an option for every diabetic dog or cat, so talk to your vet before changing your diabetic pet’s food.”
Give your pet insulin at the same time every day, and feed regular meals in conjunction with medication. This allows increased nutrients in the blood to coincide with peak insulin levels, decreasing the chance that sugar levels will swing either too high or low. Work with your vet to create a feeding schedule around your pet’s medication time.
Avoid feeding your diabetic pet treats high in glucose. Regular blood glucose checks are critical to monitoring and treating any diabetic patient. Your vet can help you schedule your pet's blood sugar checks.
Consistency is key. Diabetic pets need to receive their medications and eat foods chosen for their needs at the same times every day.
Is there any way to prevent your fur kid’s getting diabetes?
You can lessen your pet’s risk with attention to proper food and regular exercise. It’s easy to toss some high carbohydrate treats or skip that evening walk or laser light chase session because you’re busy or tired. But since we know that obesity is a large contributor to animal diabetes, why not take those few minutes to choose healthier food & treats, and to give your kids some exercise? I bet you’ll all feel better for it!