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?
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
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
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
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Toy Poodles
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.