As a dedicated pet owner, you want to do your best to ensure your pet is at the top of their game. That means providing top-notch food, daily opportunities for exercise, and access to routine wellness care. Sometimes, however, pets develop an illness despite their owner’s best efforts. Pet diabetes is one of many age-related conditions that can not only be treated and controlled, it can also be prevented.
What is Pet Diabetes?
Glucose is a sugar that’s produced from digested food. Absorbed by the intestines, glucose travels throughout the body via the bloodstream as a source of energy. In order for cells to absorb the glucose, insulin is required. Produced in the pancreas, the amount of insulin required depends on the level of glucose in the blood.
Pet diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or as the result of the body’s inability to sufficiently utilize insulin. In turn, blood glucose levels are profoundly impacted, and unused glucose accumulates in the bloodstream.
Connecting the Dots
Pet diabetes can affect any pet regardless of species, age, gender, and breed. However, it’s more common among senior pets, obese or significantly overweight pets, and those with genetic predispositions.
Know the Signs
Common side effects of pet diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst and commensurate urination
- Excessive appetite while losing weight
- Sleepiness or lethargy
- Neglecting grooming needs
- Thinning or dull, dry hair
- Cloudy eyes
A physical examination and urine test are often needed for diagnosis. We look for glucose in the urine, as well as ketones (the by-product of the body breaking down fat instead of glucose for energy). If glucose is detected, we’ll draw blood to measure the blood glucose level.
Time, Patience, and Dedication
Early diagnosis, effective treatment, and daily monitoring are the keys to enhancing a diabetic pet’s length and quality of life. While there’s no cure for pet diabetes, daily insulin injections, a prescription diet, and regular exercise round out the methods for successful treatment. We highly recommend adhering to a wellness plan in order to prevent and/or mitigate diabetes-related health problems, such as:
- Cataract formation
- Weakened hind legs
- Nerve damage
- Muscle atrophy
Nutritional counseling can help control blood glucose levels, as well as mapping out strict meal times for your cat or dog.National Pet Diabetes Month
November is National Pet Diabetes Month, and we’re proud to help raise awareness about this condition and help pet owners cope with the potential challenges related to pet diabetes.