Pets are living longer lives than ever before due to better care and advances in veterinary medicine. Diabetes is more common in older pets, but it can also occur in younger or pregnant pets. The disease is more manageable if it is detected early and managed with the help of your veterinarian. The good news is that with proper monitoring, treatment, and diet and exercise, diabetic pets can lead long and happy lives.
What are the signs of diabetes in pets?
Noticing the early signs of diabetes is the most important step in taking care of your pet. If you see any of the following signs, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance your pet may have for a longer and healthier life.
·excessive water drinking and increased urination
·weight loss, even though there may be an increased appetite
·cloudy eyes (especially in dogs)
·chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)
How is diabetes diagnosed and treated?
Diabetes may be suspected based on the sings a pet is showing, but the diagnosis is confirmed by your veterinarian by finding consistent hyperclycemia (high levels of glucose in the blood) and glucosuria (glucose in the urine). Although a diagnosis of diabetes id often relatively straightforward, your veterinarian may run additional blood tests to rule out other medical conditions seen in older pets. A urine culture might be recommended to rule out a urinary tract infection.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your veterinarian will prescribe an initial dose and type of insulin for your pet. Insulin cannot be given orally – it must be given by injection under the skin. Your veterinarian will teach you how to give the insulin injections, which involve a very small needle and are generally very well tolerated by the pet.
Successful treatment of diabetes requires regular examinations, blood and urine tests, and monitoring your pet’s weight, appetite, drinking and urination.
Caring for diabetic pets
Dogs and cats with diabetes usually require lifelong treatment with special diets, a good fitness regimen and, particularly in dogs, daily insulin injections. The key to managing diabetic pets is to keep your pet’s blood sugar near normal levels and avoid too-high or too-low levels that can be life threatening. Management of you diabetic pet may include some or all of the following:
·A high fiber diet is often recommended.
·Daily exercise is strongly recommended.
·Owners should consider spaying a female dog diagnosed with diabetes.
·A high-protein, low carbohydrate diet is often recommended.
·Daily exercise is strongly recommended. Your veterinarian may be able to help you develop a regimen.
It is very important to maintain the proper insulin and feeding schedules recommended for your pet. It is also very important that your pet maintains a normal appetite while on insulin therapy. You will also need to regularly check your pet’s blood and urine sugar levels. Most blood and urine glucose monitoring is done in the veterinary clinic, but some owners will monitor these levels at home.
Watch for signs of an insulin overdose, which can include weakness, tremors or seizures, and loss of appetite. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you observe any of these signs.
Diabetic pets should be monitored for long-term complications such as cataracts, which commonly develop in diabetic dogs and cats. Other problems that can occur include hind leg weakness due to low blood potassium, high blood pressure, or lower urinary tract infections.
Diabetic dogs and cats can live long and healthy lives with proper management and veterinary care. If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior or weight, consult your veterinarian.
Brought to you by your veterinarian and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
For more information, visit American Veterinary Medical Association at www.avma.org