November is known as National Diabetes Month to help spread awareness to pet owners of the growing problem of diabetes mellitus in cats and dogs. If untreated, it can be fatal.
What pets are at risk?
Diabetes can occur in dogs and cats at any age. Usually, diabetic dogs are 4-14 years of age and most are diagnosed between the ages of 7-10. Diabetic cats are often older than 6 years of age. Diabetes generally occurs in female dogs twice as often than male dogs. A significant risk factor that can cause the development of diabetes is obesity. Other reasons that make your animal at risk to get diabetes is they may develop other diseases that can result in diabetes. Also, did you know that use medications containing Corticosteroids long term is also putting animals at risk for diabetes?
When it comes to your pet’s health and diabetes, what are the signs a pet owner should look out for?
Noticing the symptoms early is the most crucial step in taking care of your pet. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance for your pet to live a long, healthy life. Here are some of the most common signs of diabetes in your pets as follows:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Inappropriate urination
- Increased hunger
- Increased whiteness of the eye lens due to cataracts
- Weight loss (most commonly over the back)
- Poor skin condition (dandruff, oily hair coat)
If you see any of these signs in your pet, please bring them in to be checked by a veterinarian.
If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes and confirmed by a veterinarian, they may want to run additional tests to rule out other medical conditions seen in older pets. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your pet will be prescribed an initial dose of insulin. Insulin is only an injectable drug, which is given underneath the skin, generally in the neck area. To provide this injection, it will be taught to you by your veterinarian or a technician. Your pet will also need to be switched to special dietary food.
Successful treatment of diabetes will require regular examinations, blood and urine tests. Monitoring your pets weight, appetite, drinking, urination will also be required. Caring for your pets with diabetes is a lifelong commitment. Unfortunately, it will not cure itself. The key to keeping your diabetic pet healthy is giving them their medication at the same time each day. It will help keep your pets blood sugars at a near-normal level and avoid too high or too low levels which can be fatal. Remember, it is wonderful to have a support system when dealing with a diabetic animal, but a treatment that works for one pet may not work well for another pet. Patience is key as you and your pet adjust to the new lifestyle of a new diet and medications.
It is important to keep a great patient-doctor partnership when dealing with diabetic animals & never hesitate to call your clinic with any questions you may have while dealing with this process. No question is too small.
Written By: Torbay Road Animal Hospital