Since 2011, there’s been an estimated 30% increase among pets in the U.S. diagnosed with diabetes. Unfortunately, this disease continues to become more prevalent.
Although diabetes expresses differently in animals, there are many risk factors that resemble our own when it comes to cats and dogs. Since November is National Pet Diabetes Month, the team at Animal Medical and Surgical Center want to review how you can prevent diabetes in pets and to remind those with diabetic pets that there is hope!
Diabetes in Pets
Diabetes is a condition of the endocrine system in which the body cannot efficiently process glucose (sugar). Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose to the cells, but in diabetic pets, this process is stymied.
This is because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (Type 1) or because the body does not respond to insulin (Type 2). Glucose is extremely important since it’s responsible for powering the cells. With diabetes, the body becomes starved and begins to break down fat and muscle tissue.
Initial signs of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst and urination
- Recurring infections, such as urinary tract infections
- Cloudy eyes
- Weight loss
- Appetite loss (or consistent/increased appetite coupled with weight loss)
Also keep in mind that diabetes expresses differently among cats and dogs, so please contact us with any questions about your pet’s level of risk.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect your pet is diabetic, it’s important to have him or her examined right away to prevent secondary health conditions. A diagnosis is made through a combination of a physical exam and lab testing.
As in humans, treating diabetes in pets relies on insulin injections and supportive care – namely, dietary changes.
Although insulin injections may seem scary for pet owners at first, your veterinarian can provide all the instruction and support you need. The good news is that most animals respond well to treatment and can go on to lead normal, healthy lives.
Preventing Diabetes in Pets
While there’s no absolute way to prevent diabetes in pets, there are some factors that seem to be linked, and lifestyle can be a key indicator. Give your pet an increased chance of avoiding this condition with the following tips:
- Daily exercise is essential. Keep your pet moving with walks, playtime, and opportunities to socialize with other animals. We recommend 20-30 minutes each day.
- Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Diabetes is more common among overweight and obese pets. If you’re unsure about your pet’s optimal weight, please contact us, and we can help you establish a healthy dietary plan.
- Cats require a high-protein diet (primarily found in wet foods), so those who are consistently fed a high-carb dry diet are at a greater risk of developing diabetes.
- A diet rich in fiber has been shown to reduce the chances of diabetes in dogs.
To learn more about diabetes in pets or for additional information on how to help your diabetic pet thrive, please give us a call today.