Unlocking the secrets – How to read early signs of diabetes in pets
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Like humans, diabetes is common in pets, particularly in older animals. Younger or pregnant pets are also prone to diabetes. However, the disease is more manageable when diagnosed early and managed with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. Fortunately, diabetic pets can live a long and happy life with adequate monitoring, treatment, and a healthy lifestyle. Read on to learn the causes and symptoms of diabetes in pets.
What Causes Diabetes In Pets?
- Diabetes is a disease characterized by the inability to regulate blood sugar levels caused by destroying pancreatic beta cells. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas completely loses its ability to manufacture insulin, leading to insulin-deficient diabetes or type 1 diabetes. In such cases, the pet needs external administration of insulin.
However, although the pet can produce insulin in some instances, the body does not respond. This condition is known as insulin-resistant diabetes or type 2 diabetes. While it is generally assumed that pets have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, diabetes severity exists on a spectrum.
Signs Of Diabetes In Pets
- Regardless of the cause, all people with diabetes have high blood sugar levels. Excess sugar in the urine gives rise to clinical signs of diabetes. The following signs may indicate diabetes in your pet:
Increased Thirst And Urination
- Diabetic pets drink more water and urinate more frequently. The excess glucose in the bloodstream prevents the kidneys from effectively reabsorbing water, leading to increased urination and subsequent thirst.
- Although the blood glucose levels are elevated, the body cannot utilize glucose for energy. As a result, diabetic pets shave increased hunger and constantly seek food.
Unexplained Weight Loss
- Despite an increased appetite, diabetes causes unexplained weight loss. The body cannot utilize glucose effectively, breaking down alternative energy sources, such as fat and muscle, ultimately leading to weight loss.
Additional signs of diabetes may include:
- Poor coat condition
- Formation of cataracts in dogs
- Abnormal gait in cats
Diabetes can lead to complications such as liver dysfunction, kidney failure, etc. In severe cases, a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis may develop. If your diabetic pet displays symptoms such as vomiting or disorientation, seek immediate veterinary attention. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a fatal condition that leads to serious complications such as brain swelling, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and rapid deterioration if not timely treated. Prompt veterinary attention and diligent management are essential for the well-being of your pets.
Treatment Of Diabetes
- The primary treatment for diabetes in pets involves administering insulin injections when clinical signs are present. However, the specific type of insulin used varies depending on the species. For instance, Glargine and PZI are the commonly used insulins for cats with diabetes. On the other hand, Lente, NPH, and Vetsulin are the first-line insulin options for dogs.
The selection of insulin depends on factors such as duration of action in the bloodstream, ease of availability for owners, and cost. The veterinarian and pet owner work together to determine the most suitable insulin for the individual pet.
Management Of Diabetes In Pets
In addition to insulin therapy, managing diabetes in pets involves the following:
- A consistent and balanced diet is vital in managing blood sugar levels. Special diabetic diets that are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber may be recommended.
- Regular at-home monitoring of blood glucose levels is crucial to assess the effectiveness of treatment.
- Regular exercise, as recommended by the veterinarian, helps improve insulin sensitivity. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important in managing diabetes.
Ongoing Veterinary Care
- Take your pet for regular check-ups and communication with the veterinarian to promptly address any complications.
If your pet has health concerns, contact Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center. We provide comprehensive pet care and strategies to promote optimal pet health. Contact us to get precise guidelines for your pet. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available. Call us at (434) 971-9800.