November is National Pet Diabetes Month. Are your pets at risk? The likelihood of your cat or dog developing diabetes is anywhere between 1 in 100 and 1 in 500 and experts say those numbers are increasing.
Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a disease that affects glucose in your pet’s blood and is caused by a shortage of insulin or when the body can’t process insulin properly. Diabetes in dogs is usually type 1 while diabetes in cats is usually type 2 but can progress to type 1.
The food that your pet eats is broken down into small components that the body can use. One of the components, carbohydrates, is converted into sugar or glucose. If there is too little insulin or the insulin cannot be processed correctly, then the glucose is not able to enter the cells and provide energy. Because the cells cannot absorb glucose, a diabetic pet may always want to eat but still look malnourished.
If your pet exhibits the following symptoms, he or she may have diabetes:
- Excessive drinking or urination,
- Increased appetite (early stages) or loss of appetite (late stages),
- Weight loss,
- Lethargy or weakness, and
- Vomiting or other intestinal problems.
If your pet has these symptoms then let us or your veterinarian know so we can get started on creating a plan for you and your pet. Although diabetes is not curable, it can be managed with daily insulin injections and changes in diet (and exercise for dogs). Oral medications have shown to be not particularly helpful. Successful management of your pet’s diabetes means that he or she can live a happy and healthy life. Making sure that your pet is eating a proper diet, gets regular exercise, and maintains a healthy weight can be a big help in preventing diabetes.