National Pet Diabetes Month

November is National Pet Diabetes month, aimed at raising awareness of pet diabetes and promoting diabetes testing.

Diabetes is becoming more common in recent years, it is estimated that 1 out of every 100 dogs and between 1 in 50 and 1 in 500 cats will develop diabetes.

It may be a concern that your pet is living with diabetes, but it can usually be diagnosed by using a simple urine test and managed by maintaining an appropriate lifestyle.
What is pet diabetes?

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Diabetes mellitus is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose in your pet’s blood. It is caused by a shortage of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to be absorbed from your pet’s bloodstream into body cells to be used as a source of energy.

As a result, a diabetic cat or dog may want to eat constantly, but will appear malnourished because its cells can’t absorb the glucose.

How can diabetes affect my pet?

There are different tell-tale signs to lookout for whether you have a cat or a dog, let’s take a look at how they can be affected.

Diabetes in cats

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Diabetes in cats is more common in older and neutered male cats, and can be found through vet’s examinations which are recommended annually.

Between check-ups, there are signs to look out for which can point towards diabetes, such as:

  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Urinating more frequently, producing more urine per day, or having “accidents” outside the litter box
  • Always hungry but maintains or loses weight
  • Less active or sleeping more
  • Has thinning, dry, and dull hair

If your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Your vet will help you to determine how to keep your cat’s diabetes regulated. Diet plays a vital role, and ideally your cat should be offered the same amount of food at the same time every day.

Many experts suggest a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, but overall anything that minimizes fluctuations in blood glucose is important for managing diabetes.

Diabetes in dogs

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Canine diabetes typically occurs when dogs are between 4 to 14 years old. Unspayed female dogs are twice as likely as male dogs to suffer from diabetes.

There are some breeds that appear to be at greater risk for developing canine diabetes. These are:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pomeranians
  • Terriers
  • Toy Poodles
  • Keeshond

It is important to know the signs of diabetes so if you see any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important that you contact your vet:

  • Drinks more water than usual
  • Urinates more often, produces more urine per day, or has accidents in the house
  • Always acts hungry but maintains or loses weight
  • Has cloudy eyes

With a diagnosis from your vet you can begin monitoring your dog’s diet and regulate their diet to include the same diet at the same time every day. Their exercise should be regulated to avoid sudden changes in required energy, so create a consistent routine for you and your dog to keep them healthy and active.

If you want to assess how likely your pet is to have diabetes take the survey provided by Pet Diabetes Month and if you have concerns about your pet’s health, call your vet to schedule an appointment.

Have a story or tips to share on pet diabetes care? Let us know in the comments.

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How to understand your dog’s bark

Dogs bark when they’re excited, playful, nervous and lonely. It can be frustrating when you don’t know what they’re trying to tell you, but your dog probably feels the same!

Did you know the Basenji is one of the only dog breeds that doesn’t bark? This hunting dog from Africa is known for making a yodel-like sound, rather than an ordinary bark, due to its unusually shaped larynx. But unless you have a Basenji, it’s likely that your dog barks from time to time.

Barking is ordinary behaviour in dogs – and they don’t just bark for the sake of it. For them, barking is an important method of communication. With a bit of practice (and some help from the experts!), it’s possible to recognise and interpret the different kinds of bark your dog produces.

Here are some simple tips based on the years of research done by animal psychologists and behavioural experts to understand barking…

Pay attention to the pitch

The average human can make more than 500 distinct sounds of vowels and consonants, but our canine companions have a much more limited range of sounds. For this reason, dogs cleverly use the pitch of the sound they make to convey different meanings.

As renowned dog psychologist Stanley Coren has explained, a low-pitched sound is generally used to indicate a threatening stance and the possibility of aggression. A dog that makes a low-pitched growl is basically saying ‘stay away’. In contrast, a higher pitch will usually mean the opposite – the dog wants to come closer or is signalling that it is safe to approach.

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How long and frequent are the sounds?

Dogs also communicate how they’re feeling through the duration and frequency of their barks. With a longer sound, it’s likely that the dog is making a conscious decision about how it intends to behave. A dog that feels threatened and intends to stand its ground will therefore produce a low-pitched and sustained growl. On the other hand, a sound that is held only briefly indicates that the dog is less sure of itself.

Excitement and urgency is conveyed through repetition. If your dog is barking often, with only a short pause in between each sound, it’s probably very excited about something. When it makes an occasional bark (for example, at someone passing by the window), it is simply showing a mild interest.

Woman having breakfast, dog looking at her

Familiarise yourself with some common barks

Some of the most common barks have fairly standard interpretations. For example:
– Continuous, rapid barking (medium pitch) – this is the classic ‘alarm bark’, which your dog will use to alert you to something it feels you need to know about.
– One or two short, sharp barks (medium to high pitch) – a simple greeting bark. Your dog will use it when it sees a person it is familiar with.
– Stuttered bark (medium pitch) – this bark typically sounds a bit like ‘arr-Ruff!’ It’s a sign that your dog is in the mood to play.

Further information on how to interpret different kinds of bark can be found here. What kind of sounds does your dog produce? And do you always understand the meaning?

Let us know in the comments!

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Dogs in demand: A guide to the UK’s most popular breeds

Everyone knows the UK is a nation of dog lovers, and an estimated 9 million people across the country have a canine companion! Which means roughly one-third of British households own a dog. But which are the most popular breeds?

We’ve taken a look at some of the UK’s favourite types of pooch to explore what makes them loved by dog owners from Devon to Dundee…

Labrador

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The Labrador Retriever regularly tops polls of the country’s most popular dog breeds. In 2015, BBC analysis of microchipping data revealed that more than 509,000 Labradors had been tagged across the UK over the last ten years.

Labradors are renowned for being good-natured and loyal, making them ideal as family pets and assistance dogs for people with disabilities. The adorable Labrador puppy of the Andrex television adverts, which first appeared in 1972, has also helped to endear this much-loved breed to the nation.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

This breed made the list when the first ever survey of the UK’s most popular breeds was carried out 100 years ago. Cocker Spaniels remain much loved in Britain today, with many dog owners enjoying their lively, intelligent nature.

Originally bred as working gun-dogs, Cocker Spaniels are generally very good at socialising with people and other pets. They require regular grooming to keep their long, flowing coat in good condition as well as plenty of exercise and play. A toy like the Automatic Ball Launcher could be a great way to keep them occupied!

English Springer Spaniel

English Springer spaniel portrait

The English Springer Spaniel, a close relative of the Cocker Spaniel, is a relative newcomer to the list of Britain’s top dogs. It did not even appear among the 40 most popular breeds 100 years ago, but nowadays many owners love the Springer for its energy and enthusiasm.

Springer Spaniels certainly require an energetic owner, but they are generally obedient despite their excitable nature. This can make them a really fun family pet, as long as you have plenty of time for them to enjoy long walks, roam free off the lead and go swimming.

Golden Retriever

Portrait of beautiful Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are happy, amiable dogs with luxurious coats and a playful nature. It’s not hard to see why they’re one of the most popular breeds!

They’re also highly intelligent – the Golden Retriever was rated the fourth brightest dog breed (behind the Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd) in canine psychologist Stanley Coren’s influential book The Intelligence of Dogs. So make sure you can keep them entertained.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The watchful staffy

Another very popular breed, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a compact and muscular dog that can be very affectionate. Although this breed has a reputation for being tough, they make great people-friendly pets with the proper training and care.

Microchipping data has revealed that ‘Staffies’ are particularly popular among city dwellers, perhaps because their size means they’re happy to live in smaller homes. The Staffie was shown to be the most frequently microchipped dog in almost every area of London, as well as other major urban centres like Manchester and Birmingham.

If you’re thinking about bringing a new dog into your home, one of these popular breeds could make an ideal pet. For more help on choosing the right pooch for you and your family, check out our helpful post Big dog or small dog – what’s best for me?

What’s your favourite kind of dog? Are there any breeds you think don’t get enough love?

Let us know in the comments!

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