Understanding the Risks, Symptoms, and Treatments of Pet Diabetes

More and more pets suffer from diabetes each day. Trends suggest this disease will continue to increase year and year. While many pet parents look for signs that their dog or cat isn’t feeling well, diabetes tends to go unnoticed. When left undiagnosed and untreated, diabetes can become life threatening.

Why We’re Concerned About Pet Diabetes and Why You Should Be Too

As studies related to pet diabetes come out, we become more worried about our four-legged patients. Studies show that cases of diabetes have increased by 80% in dogs and 18% in cats over the past few years. This number is expected to climb 5.5% over the next few years. It’s estimated that 1 in every 300 dogs and 1 in every 230 cats will develop diabetes.

This disease comes with an emotional and monetary cost. Treatment and insulin for pet diabetes costs the average pet parents $50-$150 per month.

What You Should Know About Pet Diabetes?

Obesity and excess weight is the leading cause of pet obesity. Other pets have a genetic predisposition to develop diabetes. The pituitary system and adrenal system can also increase the likelihood of your pet developing diabetes.

What Exactly is Pet Diabetes?

In some ways, our pets’ systems are similar to ours. The ways they process calories into energy by transforming it into sugar is one of those ways. When your pet cannot transform and use glucose correctly, the result is diabetes.

Glucose powers the body. It’s a form of sugar that feeds the body’s cells with energy. When your pet eats, her body transforms her dinner into glucose through the pancreas. The bloodstream then absorbs the glucose and delivers it throughout her body using insulin.

Insulin moves the glucose around and distributes a safe amount of sugar to your pet’s cells. When your pet lacks insulin, the glucose doesn’t get distributed and, in a way, piles up in the bloodstream instead of making it to her cells for energy to digest, move, and think. With excess glucose piling up, her body will begin to dispose of it through urine.

The body will then turn to muscles and fat for energy. The inability to properly deliver glucose to cells causes an energy deficiency, resulting in sluggishness, feeling ill, and problems functioning.

What Pets Are Most At-Risk for Diabetes?

A pet can develop diabetes at any time in her life, but most pets are more at risk when they reach middle-aged. Some cats breeds tend to have a higher predisposition to diabetes.

These include

  • Maine Coons
  • Siamese
  • Burmese

For cats, this means once they’re 6 years or older.

For dogs, they’re more likely to become diabetic after the age of 4. The breed most often diagnosed with diabetes include

  • Golden retrievers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Labs

Overweight pets are more likely to be diabetic.

Symptoms of Pet Diabetes

Some of the signs your pet may have a glucose deficiency and should be brought in for diagnosis include

  • Increased thirst and water intake
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • The decline in coat quality
  • Tiredness, lethargy or fatigue
  • Cloudy eyes

Pet Diabetes: Prevention and Treatment

Don’t let your pet become one of the cats, dogs, one other pets that will develop diabetes this year. And if you suspect your pet may have diabetes, bring her in for diagnosis and begin treatment. 

How Can You Help Your Prevent Your Pet from Becoming Diabetic? 

We always encourage prevention when it comes to your pet’s health. So, what can you do to help prevent pet diabetes?

1. Have your pet spayed. The hormone cycle of an unspayed pet can increase the chances of diabetes

2. Make an Appointment for Your Pet’s Annual ExamL Bloodwork can give us a window into your pet’s health to prevent her from developing diabetes. We can also let you know if she’s at a safe weight.

3. Keep your pet active and on a healthy diet: High protein diets and regular exercise keep your pet in good shape preventing a wide range of problems, including diabetes. Add some fresh veggies and fruits to your pet’s diet. From pumpkin to green beans, the fiber will prevent blood sugar spikes.

Treatment for Pet Diabetes

When diabetes isn’t treated, it can cause ketoacidosis, a serious liver dysfunction. It can also cause issues with the other organs including her brain and kidneys. 

We can diagnosis diabetes through simple bloodwork and a urine test. Then we can prescribe treatment.

Most treatment for pet diabetes includes insulin injections. Insulin helps your pet’s body get the energy it needs from the bloodstream. We assess your pet to determine her insulin needs to help her manage her blood sugar and a feeding schedule with a tailored diet.

We also recommend a high-fiber diet for diabetic dogs with daily exercise. For diabetic cats, high-protein and low carbs can help. We also suggest playing with your cat several times per day.

Don’t Let Diabetes Do a Number on Your Pet’s Health

With early diagnosis, proper management, and treatment, some cases of pet diabetes can be reversed. And for pets that don’t fall into that category, they can still have long, joy-filled lives with proper management.

Don’t let your pet’s diabetes go undiagnosed. Make an appointment for an annual exam. We want your pet to stay healthy, strong, and filled with energy.


Photo Credit: Pixabay



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