Diabetes in Pets
November is National Pet Diabetes month! A great way to celebrate is to learn about the signs and treatments of diabetes in order to be able to early diagnose your pet if need be.
Diabetes mellitus occurs when the body cannot use glucose—the main source of energy for the body’s cells—normally. Blood glucose levels are primarily controlled by insulin, which is a hormone made by the pancreas. Pets suffering from diabetes are either unable to use the insulin created by the pancreas or the pancreas does not produce enough (or any) insulin, so blood glucose levels rise to dangerous levels.
Overweight and obese pets are at increased risk of developing diabetes.
What are the signs of diabetes in pets?
- Increased thirst — Also known as polydipsia, increased thirst is an early warning sign of diabetes.
- Increased urination — If your pet is urinating more frequently or having accidents in the house, she may be diabetic. Increased urination is also called polyuria, and, like polydipsia, it is an early warning sign of diabetes.
- Increased hunger — If your pet suddenly seems to need more food despite having eaten her typical amount (polyphagia), she may be diabetic.
- Sudden weight loss — Because diabetes can increase the metabolism, a pet suffering from the disease may suddenly lose weight despite eating her normal amount (or more).
- Fatigue — Cats with diabetes can experience wasting of back muscles or weakness in the back legs. Dogs often sleep more and are lethargic and less active.
- Thinning hair — If your pet’s hair coat isn’t as shiny and full as it once was, especially along her back, diabetes may be to blame.
- Cloudy eyes — Dogs with diabetes often experience cataracts, which can eventually lead to blindness.
How is diabetes treated in pets?
Pets with diabetes must receive insulin injections under the skin for the rest of their lives. If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, our team will prescribe the appropriate insulin and dosage, and we’ll teach you how to give the injections. We may also recommend a change to your pet’s diet and regular veterinary visits, and we’ll ask you to monitor your pet’s weight, appetite, drinking, and urination at home.
Diabetes does not have to be a death sentence for pets. Once diagnosed, it can be well-managed and pets can go on to live long and happy lives. If you notice any of the warning signs in your pet, contact us.