Have you noticed that your pet is more thirsty, asking to go outside more frequently, or losing weight even though they act like they are starving? If so, it is time to get your cat or dog screened for Diabetes Mellitus or diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin for your pet to absorb enough sugar or glucose from the bloodstream. Insulin allows the pet’s cells to absorb the needed glucose to function properly. Without it the cells are starved and will send out signals to mobilize proteins, fats, and starch causing weight loss and even a life threatening condition of ketoacidosis. Since the cells are not using the glucose, it builds up in the bloodstream which draws more water into the bloodstream, causing the kidneys to work overtime getting rid of the excess water (increased urination).
We can check for diabetes by looking at blood glucose levels and urine glucose levels; if both are high at several different readings we will diagnose Diabetes Mellitus. Once the diagnosis is made, we will choose the most appropriate diet for your cat or dog. Cats require a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, and dogs do better with a high fiber, high quality protein diet. Most pets do require twice daily injections of insulin-this makes many owners anxious, but we are here to help and it’s easier than you think. We will also need to recheck the blood sugar on a regular basis to ensure that our insulin therapy and diet recommendation is effective.
Even though diabetes is not a curable disease, with effective treatment and monitoring, a pet should have the same life expectancy as a non-diabetic cat or dog. Managing your pet’s diabetes will require some effort, but the rewards are great.
Risk factors in dogs for diabetes include: middle age to older dogs, unspayed females, genetics, and obesity. Cat risk factors include: older cats, neutered males, genetic, other diseases like hyperthyroidism or pancreatitis, obesity, and physical inactivity. If you have any questions regarding diabetes feel free to call our clinic. There are also some great websites to check out: www.petdiabetesmonth.com, www.pet-diabetes.com, and www.canininsulin.com.