Did you know that dogs and cats can be diabetic too? Do you know the signs? Or how we manage it so our pets can live healthy lives? In honor of November being National Pet Diabetes Month, I wanted to take a moment to discuss this disease that affects about 1 in 300 dogs and 1 in 230 cats in the United States.
What causes diabetes in our pets?
Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, occurs in pets that do not produce enough insulin or whose bodies don't use insulin properly. Sometimes diabetes can be a genetic condition and other times there are underlying environmental factor that cause diabetes; such as obesity or taking certain medications (such as steroids).
What are the signs of diabetes?
The most likely sign that owners notice is an increase in urination that is causing the pet to have accidents in the house. Other signs include increased thirst or loosing weight despite having a hearty appetite or seeming more tired.
How does you veterinarian diagnose diabetes?
After talking with you, the owner, and listening to the signs you are seeing at home your veterinarian might suspect diabetes. In order to confirm our suspicions, we will recommend a urinalysis and blood work. Many pets with diabetes will have glucose in their urine which can also cause an underlying urinary tract infection, bacteria love sugar! The urinalysis will allow us to screen for these conditions. The blood work will give us an exact blood sugar level as well as get an idea of how your pet's internal organs are functioning. If your pet's blood sugar is high and glucose is showing up on the urinalysis we will diagnose your pet with diabetes.
How do we treat diabetes?
Diabetes is not a disease that can be cured. However, it can be managed with insulin injections given 1-2 times per day. After diagnosis, you veterinarian will spend time teaching you how to give your pet insulin at home as well as going over diet changes for your pet.
Though diabetes in pets is not curable, with proper management, monitoring and communication between you and your veterinarian your pet will be able to return to a healthy and enjoyable life!