Did you know that pets can have diabetes? By raising awareness about the signs and symptoms, there may be a greater chance for early diagnoses – which increases the chance of pets living a longer and healthier life. While diabetes is typically a chronic condition for most animals, it can typically be managed well with help from your veterinarian.
What exactly is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus (DM), or diabetes, is a condition that occurs when the body cannot use glucose normally. The levels of glucose in the blood are mainly controlled by insulin, a hormone that’s made by the pancreas. Insulin is needed to transfer glucose from the bloodstream to the cells – as glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. If there is not enough insulin or if the body is not able to use the insulin, glucose will accumulate in the blood causing a condition called hyperglycemia. When glucose levels in the bloodstream rise to a certain amount, the glucose will overflow into urine, drawing high volumes of water with it as well. As a result, diabetic pets oftentimes will drink more water and urinate more frequently.
If glucose remains in the bloodstream and enough is not transported to the body’s cells, there is not enough energy produced for the cells to function normally. The body then will breakdown fat and muscle tissue to compensate for the lack of energy, which often will result in diabetic pets experiencing weight loss despite normal or even increased appetite.
Diabetes can occur at any age in both dogs and cats, however most dogs are diagnosed at 7-10 years old and most cats at six years or older.
The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance pets have at a better quality of life. If you notice any of the following signs, it's important to contact us right away.
- Excessive water drinking
- Increased urination
- Weight loss, even despite possible increased appetite
- Decreased appetite
- Cloudy eyes (particularly in dogs)
- Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)
Diabetic dogs and cats typically require lifelong treatment and of their condition – pets will need to be evaluated in order to determine what treatment options work best. This may include special diets, good exercise habits, and sometimes insulin injections. It’s key to regularly schedule examinations, including blood and urine tests, and to keep a close eye on your pet’s weight, eating/drinking, and elimination habits. If you notice any changes in these habits or in your pet’s overall behavior, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
How can diabetes be managed?
Caring for pets with diabetes often will require lifelong treatment and special attention to your pet's needs and symptoms. Management for your diabetic pet may include:
- A special diet - For dogs, a high-fiber diet may be recommended. For cats, a high-protein, and low carbohydrate diet may be recommended. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what diet can work best for your pet's unique needs.
- Daily exercise is generally recommended for diabetic pets. Work with your veterinarian to find an appropriate exercise program for your pet - which typically will factor in age, weight, health and any other special needs your pet may have.
- Maintaining a regular feeding and insulin schedule is highly recommended. This will ensure that their blood sugar levels remain balanced and lessens the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- Scheduling regular visits with your veterinarian.
At Animal Health Care of Marlboro, we want to ensure that your pet is as healthy and happy as possible. If you need any assistance with managing your pet’s condition, we are here to help. Reach out to learn more about some of our services that could assist, including:
- Physical Rehabilitation: Our physical rehab service can help promote wellness for pets. Our team can provide at-home exercises for your pet, or our underwater treadmill can help with weight management with scheduled visits for underwater treadmill therapy.
- Pet Boarding: If you’re planning a vacation or if you travel for work, Animal Health Care of Marlboro has an in-house boarding care facility to meet the needs of your pet while you’re away. Whether you’re away for just a day or even a week, our team can ensure that your pet is comfortable and cared for. When your pet has special medical needs, it’s always reassuring to have the peace of mind that your furry family member is being cared for by a dedicated, compassionate team of veterinary professionals.
With diabetes, consistency is key to ensuring your pet’s best health. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your pet’s condition – we are always happy to address your concerns.