What You Need to Know About the Rise in Pet Diabetes
Although most of us understand that diabetes among humans has been on the rise for the past few decades, few pet owners know that pet diabetes has also become prevalent.
Although there are a spectrum of health factors to predispose a cat or dog to diabetes, the strongest link remains obesity.
In observance of Pet Diabetes Month, we will address some of the contributors to this national pet health problem, as well as what you can do to prevent your best friend from developing the disease.
If you know a bit about how Type II diabetes develops in humans, you have the basis for understanding pet diabetes.
A disease of the endocrine system, diabetes occurs when the body cannot process or adequately produce enough insulin. Insulin is made by the pancreas and is responsible for transporting glucose, or sugar, into the cells, which rely on this process to “fuel” the systems of the body.
Over time and without treatment, these blood sugar fluctuations can cause numerous health problems, including cataracts and eventual blindness, nerve damage, including heart arrhythmias, and other serious conditions.
Risk factors that contribute to diabetes include age (senior pets are more likely to develop diabetes), obesity, repeat episodes of pancreatitis, and breed (Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Dachshunds, Dobermans, Labrador Retrievers, and certain toy breeds seem to be at greater risk).
Oftentimes diabetes can be present but undetected. Unfortunately, without consistent wellness examinations and screenings, many pets will remain undiagnosed as the disease progresses because they are not displaying symptoms.
This is why it is imperative to maintain those annual (or biannual for older pets) physicals, where blood count and chemistry panels, as well as urinalysis, can detect the presence of the disease. Early detection generally allows us to begin treatment before significant complications develop.
When signs of diabetes are present, these include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Lethargy or weakness
- Weight loss
- Dull coat
- Cloudy eyes
Once your pet has received a diagnosis, he or she will be given a prescription for daily insulin injections, which can be done at home.
At Schertz Animal Hospital, we understand this may seem a little daunting at first. After all, it is tough to watch your pet get a shot without having to administer them yourself. That is why we work very closely with you to help answer questions, instruct you on daily diabetes care, and ensure you are comfortable with providing these necessary injections.
Along with your pet’s daily insulin shots, his treatment plan will also consist of adjustments to nutrition, with a specialty diet formulated for diabetic pets, and exercise.
Thankfully, when given the appropriate treatments and nutritional supports, pets with diabetes can live a normal, healthy life.
The even better news is that – for most pets – this disease is entirely preventable. Through weight management, balanced, nutritious meals, exercise, and avoiding indulging your pet in people food, you will help prevent diabetes and many other obesity linked diseases.
To learn more about pet diabetes prevention or how you can better maintain your pet’s weight, please call us. If your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment. The earlier the diagnosis, the better prognosis for a long and healthy life.