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Pet Diabetes Awareness Month

Pet Diabetes Awareness Month

Lethargy. Excessive thirst. Frequent urination.

If your pet is displaying any of these common signs, he or she may have diabetes.

If you didn’t know your dog or cat could develop diabetes, you’re not alone. Many owners don’t realize diabetes can affect pets too, so learning that your dog or cat has the condition can leave you with many questions.

While there’s no cure for diabetes, proper care can help your pet live a happy, healthy, active life. The more you know about diabetes, the better you’ll be able to work with your veterinarian to successfully manage your pet’s health.

What is canine diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, or sugar, in your dog’s blood. Diabetes results when the dog’s body makes too little insulin or doesn’t process insulin properly.

Insulin affects how your dog’s body uses food. When your dog eats, food is broken down into very small components its body can use. One component, carbohydrate, is converted into several types of simple sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, where it travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin helps turn glucose into fuel. If there’s too little insulin available, glucose can’t enter cells and can build up to a high concentration in the bloodstream. As a result, a diabetic dog may want to eat constantly, but will appear malnourished because its cells can’t absorb glucose.

Diagnosis and detection

Diabetes is one of many conditions that can affect your dog and cause visible changes in behavior and other signs. That’s why it is important that your dog be thoroughly examined by a veterinarian at least once a year or more frequently, if your veterinarian advises.

Knowing the signs of diabetes is the first step in protecting your dog’s health. If any of these statements describes your pet, speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of diabetes:

  • Drinks more water than usual (polydipsia)
  • Urinates more frequently, produces more urine per day, or has “accidents” in the house (polyuria)
  • Always acts hungry (polyphagia), but maintains or loses weight
  • Has cloudy eyes

When evaluating your dog for diabetes, your veterinarian may ask about these signs and will check your dog’s general health to rule out the possibility of other conditions or infections. In addition, your veterinarian will test your dog’s urine for the presence of glucose and ketones and, if indicated, will then measure your dog’s blood glucose concentration. A diagnosis of diabetes only becomes definite when glucose is found in the urine and at a persistently high concentration in the blood.

Who is at risk?

Anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs develops diabetes,1 and those numbers are expected to increase. While any dog can develop diabetes, it frequently affects middle-aged to older dogs, especially unspayed female dogs.

The primary cause of canine diabetes is largely unknown, but experts suggest that genetics may play a role.

What is feline diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, a type of sugar, in your cat’s blood. Diabetes results from a shortage of insulin or when the body has trouble using the insulin it has made properly.

Insulin affects the way your cat’s body uses food. When your cat eats, food is broken down into very small components that the body can use. One component, carbohydrate, is converted into several types of sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood. Once in the bloodstream, glucose travels to cells where it can be absorbed and used as a source of energy—if insulin is present. Without enough insulin, glucose can’t enter cells and builds up in the bloodstream. So your cat may act hungry all the time and eat constantly, but still be malnourished because its cells can’t absorb glucose.

Diabetes occurs in cats when their cells no longer respond normally to the amounts of insulin produced by the pancreas. Cats with diabetes usually need to have insulin injections, at least initially, as well as an appropriate diet. Your veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your cat’s diabetes.

 

The primary cause of canine diabetes is largely unknown, but experts suggest that genetics may play a role.

Diagnosis and detection

Diabetes is one of many conditions that can affect your cat and cause visible changes in behavior and other signs. That’s why it’s important your cat be thoroughly examined by a veterinarian at least once a year or more frequently, if your veterinarian advises.

Knowing the signs of diabetes is the first step in protecting your cat’s health. If any of these statements describes your pet, speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of diabetes:

  • Drinks more water than usual (polydipsia)
  • Urinates more frequently, produces more urine per day, or has “accidents” outside the litter box (polyuria)
  • Always acts hungry (polyphagia), but maintains or loses weight
  • Is less active or sleeps more (lethargic)
  • Has thinning, dry, and dull hair

When evaluating your cat for diabetes, your veterinarian may ask about these signs and will check your cat’s general health to rule out the possibility of other conditions or infections.

A sample of your cat’s urine may be tested first for the presence of glucose, ketones and/or a urinary tract infection. If glucose is present in your cat’s urine, the veterinarian also will want to determine your cat’s blood glucose concentration and fructosamine concentration. If the blood glucose concentration is consistently higher than normal, your cat’s pancreas may not be secreting enough insulin or your cat’s body is “resistant” to the insulin being produced. Regardless of the cause for increased blood sugar, your pet is suffering from diabetes mellitus.

A diabetes diagnosis is considered definite when glucose is found at a persistently high concentration in blood and in urine.