Contributed by Dr. Alison Birken, owner and DVM of Victoria Park Animal Hospital.
Did you know that pets can get the same diseases that people get, and that many of the causes of these diseases are the same? Working as a small animal veterinarian, I am commonly diagnosing pets with diseases such as heart disease, periodontal disease, diabetes and even cancers that are the same types found in humans. With obesity on the rise in our pets, diabetes in dogs and cats is becoming more commonly diagnosed. So today I would like to discuss diabetes mellitus, the predisposing factors that can lead to this disease and ways to treat and manage diabetes in cats and dogs.
What Is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder that occurs when your pet’s body is not able to regulate the sugar levels in their bloodstream. Diabetes results in chronically elevated blood sugar levels that can cause a multitude of complications. There are two forms of this disease, Type I and Type II:
Type I, also known as insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, occurs when your pet’s body does not make insulin. Insulin is a hormone released into the bloodstream by the pancreas to lower blood sugar levels. When your pet’s blood sugar levels are high after meals, for example, insulin is released from the pancreas to move sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells for storage and energy.
Type II, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, occurs when the body produces insulin, but is not responsive to it.
What Causes Diabetes?
Diabetes in dogs and cats can be caused by many factors that are both genetic and environmental. There are certain breeds of dogs that have a genetic predisposition for diabetes, such as Samoyeds and Keeshonds. Like people, environmental factors such as obesity can put pets more at risk for developing diabetes.
Signs of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs
There’s an array of symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats, but the most common signs are:
- Increased thirst
- Increased appetite
- Increased urination
- Weight loss
- Dull hair coat
- Cataracts in dogs
If any of these clinical signs of diabetes in cats and dogs are noted, it is important to have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will take a detailed history of your pet’s clinical signs and perform a thorough physical examination. Diabetes mellitus is diagnosed with basic bloodwork and a urinalysis.
How Do You Treat Diabetes?
Diabetes in dogs and cats is a manageable disease. Pet diabetes is generally managed with injectable insulin, an appropriate diet and weight loss. Treatment is aimed at stabilizing the blood sugar levels and preventing extremely high spikes of sugar in the blood. There are different types of insulin, and your veterinarian will prescribe the correct one for your pet’s individual needs.
In addition to insulin treatments, your veterinarian will recommend diet changes, such as Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance S/O Index Dry Cat Food from the Royal Canin dog food line. Specific dog and cat food diet changes in addition to exercise routines will be recommended by your veterinarian according your pet’s individual needs.
At-home monitoring of your pet’s glucose levels are a part of managing diabetes in dogs and cats. I recommend Petnostics Diabetes Dog & Cat Test Kit to my pet parents. Natural Supplements such as Animal Necessity DiaVetin are helpful to control the blood sugar levels in a natural way.
Diabetes is a disease that, when caught early and treated properly, can be controlled. Complications caused by diabetes may be prevented if managed correctly. Pet obesity is on the rise, and it’s a predisposing factor in causing diabetes in cats and dogs. That’s why it’s vital to maintain your pet’s ideal body weight and keep them active. Speak with your veterinarian regarding the best diet and proper exercise for your pet. Your veterinarian is always your best resource for the overall health and well-being for your pet. Always consult them for any health matters, especially if your pet is showing any signs of illness.