National Pet Diabetes Month

Many people know someone who suffers from diabetes; however, did you know that pets can have diabetes, too? November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month, and we would like to take this time to educate you on diabetes. With care and commitment, diabetic pets can live long, happy lives.

What exactly is diabetes? There are two types of diabetes; diabetes mellitus is the most common. For some reason there is a lack of insulin in the body. This could be due to the pancreas not secreting enough or another disease process that causes insulin to function abnormally within the body. Insulin is a hormone that’s function is to keep blood sugar regulated. Blood sugar consistently running too high or too low can cause damage within the body.

What are the symptoms? Common symptoms of diabetes can frequently be overlooked by pet owners. However, being diligent in paying attention to their habits and day-to-day activities can be crucial. The most common signs involve the pet’s water consumption. Having too much insulin in the body causes the pet to think they are constantly thirsty. In turn, an increase in water consumption and urination can occur. A normally housebroken pet having accidents in the house can be an indication that this is occurring. Another common sign is the pet losing weight even though they continue to eat their normal amount. Finally, general signs that the pet isn’t feeling up to par, like an unkempt coat or being lethargic, may also be an indicator.

How is it diagnosed? Letting your veterinarian know at the earliest signs can be key to diagnosing the pet quickly and getting them on the right track. The veterinarian will measure your pet’s glucose level over a period of time through a series of blood tests. Consistently high or low values can indicate diabetes. The urine is also tested for glucose and ketones, which in a healthy animal aren’t typically passed through the urine.

How is it treated? Pets whose blood sugar runs consistently high need more insulin in their blood stream. Because the body does not secrete enough insulin on its own, owners of diabetic pets frequently have to supplement it. This is done by giving a specific amount of insulin by injection with a small needle. Because insulin’s role in the body is to manage blood sugar, diet plays an important role in diabetes management. The type, quantity, and frequency of food is all prescribed by the veterinarian. Pets are typically fed a high fiber (lower calorie) diet twice a day near the timing of the insulin injections.

Can you cure diabetes? Although there is not a cure for diabetes, the disease can be managed. Routine monitoring of the diabetic pet’s health is important. With proper management and dedication, a diabetic pet can have the same lifespan and quality of life as one who is not a diabetic.

If you are concerned that a pet in your life may be suffering from diabetes, please contact us today and schedule an appointment to discuss these concerns with your veterinarian. The sooner the pet is diagnosed, the sooner we can get him feeling back to his old self!