Diabetes Awareness: Is Your Pet At Risk?

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If you’re a pet owner, it’s important to be aware of your pet’s risk for diabetes. Certain breeds are more prone to diabetes than others, but these are not the only characteristics to consider in your pet’s level of risk.

Risk factors for diabetes often include:

  • Age – pets that are over the age of seven are more likely to develop diabetes
  • Sex – female dogs are at a greater risk than male dogs
  • Breeds – diabetes is observed in certain dog breeds including Bichon Frises, Cairn terriers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, poodles, schnauzers, and more
  • Existing health conditions
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet

There are many signs of diabetes that pet owners should be aware of as well. For example, did you know that increased thirst and urination can be a symptom of diabetes in your pet?

Testing for Diabetes

The St. Marks Veterinary Hospital team recommends that all pets with any of the risk factors for diabetes be tested for the disease. There may be signs that your pet has already acquired diabetes, such as increased thirst and urination (although these can be signs of other conditions as well), increased appetite, weight loss, decreased energy, increased sleepiness, urinary tract infections, vision problems, weakness in rear limbs (in cats), kidney failure, and more.

If we observe any of these symptoms in your pet, we will test them for diabetes and other possible chronic conditions. Bringing your pet in to St. Marks Veterinary Hospital for regular check-ups, ongoing testing for possible health issues, and medical attention whenever signs of illness manifest themselves are important aspects of your pet’s ongoing health.

Schedule a Visit at St. Marks Veterinary Hospital

Have questions about your best friend’s health care needs? Please contact us today for assistance and we’ll be happy to help.

Diabetes Awareness: Is Your Pet At Risk?

0013_random_StMarks

If you’re a pet owner, it’s important to be aware of your pet’s risk for diabetes. Certain breeds are more prone to diabetes than others, but these are not the only characteristics to consider in your pet’s level of risk.

Risk factors for diabetes often include:

  • Age – pets that are over the age of seven are more likely to develop diabetes
  • Sex – female dogs are at a greater risk than male dogs
  • Breeds – diabetes is observed in certain dog breeds including Bichon Frises, Cairn terriers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, poodles, schnauzers, and more
  • Existing health conditions
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet

There are many signs of diabetes that pet owners should be aware of as well. For example, did you know that increased thirst and urination can be a symptom of diabetes in your pet?

Testing for Diabetes

The St. Marks Veterinary Hospital team recommends that all pets with any of the risk factors for diabetes be tested for the disease. There may be signs that your pet has already acquired diabetes, such as increased thirst and urination (although these can be signs of other conditions as well), increased appetite, weight loss, decreased energy, increased sleepiness, urinary tract infections, vision problems, weakness in rear limbs (in cats), kidney failure, and more.

If we observe any of these symptoms in your pet, we will test them for diabetes and other possible chronic conditions. Bringing your pet in to St. Marks Veterinary Hospital for regular check-ups, ongoing testing for possible health issues, and medical attention whenever signs of illness manifest themselves are important aspects of your pet’s ongoing health.

Schedule a Visit at St. Marks Veterinary Hospital

Have questions about your best friend’s health care needs? Please contact us today for assistance and we’ll be happy to help.

Diabetes in Pets

What is diabetes?  In the normal animal, the pancreas releases insulin that is instrumental in transporting glucose into the cells so that it can be used by the body.  In a diabetic animal, the pancreas is either not releasing insulin or the body is no longer responding to it.  This leads to high blood glucose that the body is unable to use.  Essentially, the body believes it is starving and then starts using the body’s protein and fat for energy instead of glucose.

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What animals are at risk?

  • Some breeds of dogs are genetically more predisposed, i.e., Keeshond, Poodle, Samoyed, Dachshund, Alaskan malamute, Miniature schnauzer, Chow chow and Beagle.
  • Animals that are obese.
  • Pets with pancreatitis… inflammation of the pancreas can destroy the cells that make insulin.

Symptoms you may notice:

  • Excessive eating but losing weight
  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Weakness
  • Cataracts (can be secondary to diabetes in dogs)

Your pet is diagnosed with Diabetes, now what?

Early diagnosis is key!  In dogs and cats it is imperative to treat other underlying diseases as well as starting insulin therapy.  Your veterinarian will select an appropriate insulin and dose and will demonstrate how to give the twice daily injections. Blood glucose monitoring is important to make sure your pet is on the correct dose. This is usually done in the hospital but some owners feel comfortable using a blood glucose monitor at home (this can be a lot more accurate).  The goal of treatment is for the clinical signs to abate (excessive drinking and urinating, weight loss).  Regulating animals perfectly can be difficult but our goal is to make sure these clinical signs disappear.  Working closely with your veterinarian to get your pet on the appropriate dose of insulin is very important to controlling this chronic disease.

Cats who are diagnosed with diabetes can sometimes go into remission after appropriate treatment with insulin and a change of diet.  The most up-to-date diet choice for cats is a low carbohydrate/ high protein diet. These diets promote weight loss in obese diabetics and are available in both canned and dry formulations. For dogs, high fiber diets are still favored as fiber seems to help sensitize the pet to insulin.

Risks:

One of the scariest things about treating diabetes is making sure that your pet does not go into hypoglycemic shock.  Although having a very high blood glucose is damaging to the body, it is not immediately fatal. If blood glucose falls too low, it can be fatal.  Signs of hypoglycemia include seizures, wobbliness, a drunken appearance,  and acting inappropriately.  This can sometimes happen if too much insulin is given. In this dangerous situation, Karo syrup (or a sugar/water formula) should be applied on the gums immediately to elevate the blood glucose. You should then contact your veterinarian ASAP.

It is important for diabetic pets to have their teeth cleaned annually. Dental tartar seeds the body with bacteria and when blood sugar levels run high, important organs are prone to infection. Urinary tract infections are also common in diabetics due to glucose in the urine.  Both of these conditions can make our patients difficult to regulate.

Diabetes is a very serious disease, but with the right communication between pet owners and their veterinarian, it can be managed to allow our pets to live healthy and happy lives.