It is National Pet Diabetes Month at the Animal Care Hospital and we are keen to share with you the signs and symptoms of diabetes, to help you diagnose and treat diabetes in your pet to ensure they live an active and healthy life.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus, the medical name for pet diabetes, is a disease caused by a lack of insulin that affects the level of glucose, or sugar in your dog or cat’s blood.
The glucose comes from the food that your pet eats. The food is broken down into very small components by the digestive system so that the body can use it for energy. Glucose is one of these components, and an important source of energy.
Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream where it travels to cells throughout the body. Insulin is required for the cells to absorb glucose. Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Healthy pets produce insulin easily, but pets with diabetes don’t. In canine and feline diabetes, unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
Is diabetes in pets the same as in humans?
The two conditions are very similar. In fact, we use medication, equipment and monitoring systems that are similar to those used for diabetic people.
How common is diabetes in dogs and cats?
Diabetes is reported to affect anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs and cats. But experts believe that this disease is on the rise.
Can diabetes lead to other health problems?
Yes. Dogs and cats with diabetes can develop other health problems, usually after living with diabetes for a year or more. For dogs, the most common complication of diabetes is cataract formation. Persistently high blood glucose levels make the lens of the eye become opaque, causing blindness. For cats, weakness of the hind legs is a common complication.
Persistently high blood glucose levels may damage nerves, causing weakness and muscle wasting. For both dogs and cats, avoiding high blood glucose levels should help prevent or delay these complications. For this reason, early diagnosis of diabetes in your dog or cat is especially important.
Will diabetes affect my dog or cat’s life expectancy?
Today, with effective treatment and monitoring, a diabetic dog or cat should have the same life expectancy as a non-diabetic dog or cat. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment help diabetic pets maintain a good quality of life.
Watch this short video of Sugar and Spike highlighting the signs of pet diabetes.
How can I tell if my pet has diabetes?
Some common signs of diabetes in dogs and cats include:
* Excessive thirst
* Excessive urination—your pet produces more urine per day and may have “accidents” in the house (dogs) or outside the litterbox (cats)
* Excessive hunger while losing weight
* Lethargy (less active/sleeps more)
* Cloudy eyes (dogs)
* Doesn’t groom (cats)
* Thinning, dry and dull hair
If your pet is showing any of these signs, please do get in touch and we can arrange a free glucose test to screen your pet for diabetes.
With proper management and monitoring, a dog or cat with diabetes can lead a healthy, happy and active life.
Watch this short clip of Spike and Sugar visiting the vet to get treatment.
If you have any concerns, please do call us on 021 489 3033 and we can discuss any concerns with you.