diabetes in petsDiabetes is a huge problem, both in humans and our pet population. This all-too-common disease can have serious health consequences if uncontrolled. Godspeed Animal Care thinks it’s important for animal lovers everywhere to have a good understanding of diabetes in pets and what they can do to prevent it.

The Physiology of Diabetes in Pets

Most of us are familiar with diabetes, but do you really know what’s happening in the body when this disease is diagnosed?

The body uses a hormone called insulin, produced by the pancreas, to convert carbohydrates into energy for cells. Glucose is the main building block of carbohydrates that’s utilized by the body.

In diabetes mellitus, the body either does not produce enough insulin to accomplish this or the body’s cells are not responsive to a normal amount of insulin and require more than can be produced in order to process the glucose in the bloodstream.

Diabetes in pets results in an overabundance of glucose in the blood, which is filtered out in the urinary system. This results in some characteristic symptoms, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • A dull, unkempt coat
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Cataract development in dogs

While other diseases may also result in similar clinical signs, we can often diagnose diabetes in pets easily through blood and urine testing.

Once diagnosed, diabetes must be treated in order to prevent serious health complications. While it’s not curable, diabetes in pets is often manageable through diet changes and insulin administration.

Avoiding the Big D

Fortunately, there’s plenty that a proactive pet owner can do to try to avoid this disease. Just as in people, diabetes in pets is more prevalent in the obese or overweight. Taking steps to help your pet maintain a healthy body weight can go a long way toward preventing problems.

Feed mindfully. Good eating habits are the foundation of any pet wellness plan. Call us today if you’re unsure of what or how much to feed your dog or cat. We can help you determine how many calories your pet needs and aid you in selecting a quality diet. Some pets may need a special food to help with weight loss if they’re already overweight.

Promote exercise. Getting your pet up and moving is critical to supporting a healthy weight. Encourage your dog to get some exercise every day for at least 15-30 minutes. Cats should get at least three 5-minute bursts of activity daily. Many will respond to toys such as a laser light, fishing pole toy, crinkly balls, or catnip.

Avoid pancreatitis. Because the pancreas is essential to producing insulin, conditions that affect it can increase the risk of developing diabetes. In particular, pancreatitis can cause scarring to the organ, impairing its ability to produce insulin. Indulging in rich, fatty foods such as bacon, gravy, or buttery treats can increase the incidence of pancreatitis in pets.

Despite our best efforts, diabetes in pets still occurs. Be sure to bring your pet in for wellness visits and alert us to changes in behavior that may help us diagnose diabetes before it becomes a major problem.

If your pet should develop this disease, we’re here to help you manage it and provide the best care. Hopefully, by putting forth a little effort, we can prevent diabetes in pets in many cases.