The Not-So-Sweet Details of Diabetes in Pets
November is National Diabetes Month. While this was originally intended to raise awareness of the disease among people, veterinarians and animal lovers are also turning their attention to the seriousness of diabetes in pets. Studies show that 1 in 300 dogs and 1 in 230 cats in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes – and those numbers are rising steadily.
National Pet Diabetes Month now occurs alongside the human version in an effort to help pet owners everywhere understand more about the disease and how to prevent it in pets.
What is Diabetes in Pets?
Each time a pet eats, the food is broken down into various components to be used by the body. Carbohydrates (mainly fiber and starches) are converted to glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. In order to effectively transfer the glucose from the blood to the cells, where it can be used as energy, a hormone called insulin is required.
When not enough insulin is produced or when cells no longer respond to normal insulin levels, glucose builds up in the bloodstream resulting in the development of diabetes. Because insulin is made by the pancreas, diabetes mellitus (the most common form of the disease in pets) is considered a disease of the pancreas.
Does My Pet Have Diabetes?
Many of the symptoms of diabetes in pets are similar to those experienced by humans:
- Excessive thirst
- More frequent urination
- Increased appetite (early in the disease)
- Decreased appetite (in advanced cases)
- Weight loss
- Sweet smelling or a chemical odor to the breath
- Overall weakness
- Cloudy eyes
Early diagnosis is key to the successful treatment of diabetes. Changes in diet, weight management, and medication are usually effective when it comes to managing diabetes in pets.
Overweight and obese pets are at higher risk for developing diabetes (although age, breed, and lifestyle can also play a role). You can do your part to keep the disease at bay with the following tips:
- Provide your pet with a high-quality, nutritious diet. Your veterinarian is happy to make recommendations regarding food and portion sizes.
- Make sure your pet gets plenty of age-appropriate exercise each day.
- Don’t skip your pet’s regularly scheduled wellness examinations! This is our opportunity to evaluate your pet’s overall health.
Fortunately, with early detection, dedicated home care, and routine wellness exams, diabetes in pets can be effectively managed. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital with any questions or concerns.