November is National Pet Diabetes Month! A month dedicated to spreading the word about pet diabetes.
Dogs, cats and other pets can also get diabetes, just like humans. That’s why it’s our responsibility as loving pet parents to look out for the signs and consider treatment options when necessary. Although diabetes is more common in older pets, it’s not a condition that should be ruled out for puppies, kittens and younger pets. It can happen to ‘anypawdy’ (even to wild animals like lions and wolves). What-The-Fur!
A breakdown of diabetes
According to AVMA, diabetes mellitus, or more commonly referred to as diabetes, is a condition that occurs when the body can’t use glucose (a type of sugar) efficiently. When a person or pet has diabetes, their bodies can’t produce enough– or any– insulin, a hormone which turns food into energy.
Over time, the lack of insulin production can cause serious health issues. Although diabetes has no cure, there are ways to treat and to manage it.
The types of pet diabetes
Diabetes Type I:
Dogs are more likely to develop Type I diabetes due to the body’s inability to produce insulin.
Unfortunately, once your pet develops Type I diabetes, it is irreversible. People and animals with Type I diabetes need to be given insulin so that their body can process glucose.
Diabetes Type II
Cats are more likely to develop Type II diabetes, but obesity as well as some diseases and medications, can lead to Type II diabetes in dogs.
Type II diabetes is known as insulin-resistant diabetes. It happens when the pancreas makes insulin, but the body’s cells do not respond to it. Sometimes Type II diabetes can be prevented and reversed through proactive healthy lifestyle changes.
What are the warning signs?
It’s important to detect the signs of diabetes in its early stages as it could save your pet’s life. If you notice the following signs, visit your nearest vet ASAP!
- Excessive thirst and frequent urination. (Take note of how many times a day you must refill your pet’s water bowl).
- Weight loss. Your dog might be eating but dropping the pounds due to their body’s inability to absorb nutrients.
- Cloudy eyes (especially in dogs)
- Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)
Over time, elevated blood glucose levels lead to problems such as heart disease, stroke, nerve damage and kidney disease. If not treated, it can lead to an early grave ☹
How to treat pets diagnosed with diabetes
Dogs and cats with diabetes need special diets, an active lifestyle and medication or insulin injections. Blood sugar levels should be well managed and kept stable to avoid life-threatening emergencies.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) management of your diabetic pet may include some, or all of the following:
- A high-fibre diet;
- Daily exercise; and
- Owners should consider having their female dogs spayed.
- A high-protein, low carbohydrate diet; and
- Daily exercise, although it can be challenging to practice a regular fitness regimen with cats.
Take note: Before you self-diagnose or treat diabetes in your pet, speak to your vet who is qualified and able to offer the best treatment plan for your beloved furball. The vet may have to prescribe your pooch or kitty some insulin injections to help them maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Dogs and cats with diabetes can live long and healthy lives with proper lifestyle management and veterinary care. If you notice any changes in your pet’s behaviour or weight, consult your vet. It’s up to us to make sure that our beloved pets stay happy and healthy.
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