A Growing Problem
Unfortunately, along with the rise of obesity in our pets, associated diseases such as joint pain and diabetes have also increased. With that in mind, that is another reason to keep our pets’ weight in check (and also our own… sigh.) The good news is that sometimes the condition can be treated with dietary changes, especially for cats, and early detection can make a difference. Although diabetes has no cure, it can be successfully managed and pets can live a long life with surveillance and care.
Know the Symptoms
- Excessive Thirst. If you find yourself refilling your pet’s water bowl more often or your pet is drinking from unusual sources (i.e., the toilet, the tap, puddles, etc.) it may be time to get your pet checked.
- Increased Urination. What goes in must come out. If your pet drinks a lot more than usual, they are going to be taking more trips outside or to the litter box. Your previously trained pet may even have accidents. The urine may be diluted because of excess water consumption. These are more clues that a vet trip is warranted.
- Ravenous Hunger often paired with maintained weight or even weight loss.
- Decrease in coat quality. Dry or thinning hair can be another sign of diabetes.
- Lethargy. If your pet just seems to have lost their “get up and go,” this could also be a sign of a problem like diabetes.
Tests and Potential Complications
Your veterinarian will check urine for glucose and ketones and do a blood tests for glucose. Elevated sugars and ketones indicate that the hormone insulin is not present to convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Ketones are acids that, when detected, indicate that the body is utilizing fat for energy instead of glucose. High ketone blood levels can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Symptoms of DKA are vomiting, fruit-smelling breath, and rapd breathing. Untreated DKA can lead to coma and then death.
Dogs are more prone to diabetes than cats. Another symptom to look for in dogs are cataracts (cloudy eyes) as this frequently is paired with diabetes. Cushings disease and thyroid disorders can also be problematic with diabetes.
Cats cat live full lives with diabetes, particularly with early detection. Their treatments are similar to human treatments. Some cats may be able to be weaned off of insulin with proper diet, so don’t wait to see if your cat will simply get better over time. The sooner treatment begins, the sooner everyone will feel better.
There has been less success on treating dogs with diabetes. Traditionally, dogs diagnosed with diabetes would only live a few years beyond diagnosis. New treatment methods and careful monitoring mean that a diabetic dog can live a very full life span as well.
Pet parents can easily be taught to administer insulin shots at home, and not all forms of diabetes require insulin shots. Regardless, long-term care can get expensive. Consider a good pet insurance plan to help defray costs, especially if your breed is known to be more prone to developing diabetes, such as the golden retriever, Labrador retriever, the Yorkshire Terrier, the Bichon Frise, Schnauzers, Keeshonds, the Cairn Terrier, the Samoyed, the beagle, and poodles. Female dogs also develop diabetes more regularly than males, for unknown reasons.
Diabetes is a serious disease, but with the dedication of pet parents, it doesn’t have to diminish the quality or length of your pet’s life.
Have you had experience with treating diabetes in a pet? Have you noticed changes in diabetic medical treatments over the years?
Featured image by reader of the pack.