November is National Pet Diabetes Month, devoted to spreading awareness about pet diabetes. We want Maryland pet owners to be aware of the prevalence of diabetes in cats and dogs. When left untreated, diabetes can be fatal to pets. In honor of National Pet Diabetes Month, Mount Carmel Animal Hospital wants to help pet parents recognize diabetes in their animals so they can seek treatment.
Signs/Symptoms of Pet Diabetes
So, what is diabetes? When the body doesn’t have sufficient insulin to push sugar into the body cells, that sugar builds up in the bloodstream unutilized. As a result, the body cells are starved, and the body is stimulated to make more glucose. This leads to abnormally high amounts of glucose in the bloodstream, with cells not receiving the energy they need to do their jobs. All of this causes the body to try to compensate for the imbalance, which results in the outward symptoms of diabetes. Our veterinarians will also check for signs of diabetes during their regular physical exams. However, you can look for these signs on your pet:
- Increased drinking and urinating
- Increased appetite accompanied by weight loss
- Appearing weak or overly tired
- Poor coat quality
- Whiteness of the eye lens, like the appearance of cataracts
- Loss of eyesight
Left untreated, diabetes can cause serious problems and even be fatal. Without proper care, your pet can develop a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. This occurs when the blood glucose levels become so high, and the cells are starved for energy that the body starts using your pet’s fat to produce ketone bodies as an emergency energy source. Long-term ketosis leads to electrolyte imbalance, which can, in turn, cause abnormal heart rhythm and muscle function.
Diagnosis of Pet Diabetes
Luckily, diabetes is easy to diagnose. One of our amazing veterinarians can perform simple tests to inspect for diabetes, including testing for excessive sugar (glucose) in the urine and blood. Additionally, blood exams can show other indications of diabetes, like electrolyte imbalances and high liver enzymes. If your pet pal is diagnosed with diabetes, don’t worry. With great veterinary support, you should be able to provide excellent care for your fur baby and ensure you both enjoy many more happy years together.
Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats
Even though some cases might be more challenging, canine diabetes can be typically managed successfully without complications. Your veterinarian will recommend the best diet type for your diabetic pet. This usually includes high-quality protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates to slow glucose absorption. Most likely, your dog will be given a prescription diet that meets all the criteria while ensuring your pet is still receiving proper nutrition. Having your pet on a feeding schedule will be important for both regulating their glucose and monitoring their eating habits. Also, to help avoid sudden drops or spikes in glucose levels, diabetic pets must maintain a consistent exercise routine.
Furthermore, most diabetic pets will require daily insulin shots under their skin. Even though we understand that you are apprehensive about doing this, it’s not as complex as it may sound. Fortunately, it can become a fast and easy daily routine that isn’t traumatic for either the pet or the owner. Our team will walk you through the process step by step during a diabetic training appointment. One of our amazing veterinary technicians will show you how to check your pet’s blood glucose, handle the insulin, and administer the injections. We will make sure you are completely comfortable with everything involved in caring for your diabetic pet.
While diabetes can happen at any age, it mainly occurs in middle-aged to senior animals. Most animals who develop it are age 5 or older when diagnosed. The following risk factors of pet diabetes include:
- Obesity contributes to insulin resistance and leads to pancreatitis
- Unspayed female dogs are more likely to have diabetes than male dogs
- Chronic or pancreatitis can eventually lead to diabetes
- Some autoimmune diseases can potentially trigger pet diabetes
- Although diabetes can occur in any breed or mixed-breed animal, it seems like genetics can significantly play a role in either increased or reduced risk
Ultimately, you can’t cure diabetes, but you can manage it. Celebrate National Pet Diabetes Month by keeping your pet on a healthy diet to promote a healthy weight. You can also celebrate by taking your dog for walks or playing with your kitty for exercise. Most importantly, don’t forget to take your pet for regular wellness appointments at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital. Mount Carmel Animal is your partner in maintaining your pet healthy.
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!