November is National Pet Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a condition that affects both cats and dogs, as well as humans. When it comes to our furry friends, it can be difficult for them to communicate when something is amiss. It is up to us as pet parents to look for signs something might be wrong, and get our pets the treatments they need.
What exactly is diabetes? There are two types of diabetes; diabetes mellitus is the most common. For some reason there is a lack of insulin in the body. This could be due to the pancreas not secreting enough or another disease process that causes insulin to function abnormally within the body. Insulin is a hormone that’s function is to keep blood sugar regulated. Blood sugar consistently running too high or too low can cause damage within the body.
What are the symptoms? Common symptoms of diabetes can frequently be overlooked by pet owners. However, being diligent in paying attention to their habits and day-to-day activities can be crucial.
Signs of the disease can be difficult to spot, and can even be mistaken as symptoms of other conditions, such as hypothyroidism or kidney disease. But as long as pet owners are educated and vigilant, early diagnosis is possible.
Dogs and cats with diabetes usually sleep more, and are more lethargic during the day. Dogs with diabetes can have cloudy eyes, while cats may have thinning hair and weak hind legs.
Pets with canine or feline diabetes also exhibit three additional symptoms—polydipsia, or increased water intake; polyuria, or increased urination; and polyphagia, or increased appetite. Sudden weight loss can sometimes be a good indicator that a dog or cat may have diabetes.
Animals exhibiting these signs should see a veterinarian immediately; failure to treat diabetes in pets can lead to some devastating and life-threatening health issues.
Is my pet at risk for diabetes?
Risk factors for diabetes in dogs and cats include advanced age, genetic predisposition, breed, and obesity. That last factor—pet obesity—is on the rise here in the U.S., with over half of dogs and nearly 60 percent of cats falling in the overweight or obese category. As a result, the number of pets diagnosed with diabetes has skyrocketed.
How do we help our pet with diabetes?
While there is no cure for pet diabetes, there are ways to successfully manage the disease.
Cats diagnosed with feline diabetes typically have a normal life expectancy. As long as their owners help them maintain a proper diet, a healthy lifestyle, and check their blood glucose levels as directed by their veterinarians, cats with diabetes usually live just as long as cats without.
And while diabetic dogs once faced a much shorter life expectancy than their healthy counterparts, living on average only two to five years after their diabetes diagnosis, things are turning around for canines living with this disease.
As long as a responsible owner closely manages the dog’s blood glucose concentration, and as long as that diabetic dog does not develop any other health complications, dogs with canine diabetes can often expect to live just as long as dogs without the condition.
While diabetes can definitely be a stressful condition for both you and your pet, what’s important is that you work with your veterinarian to go through the options for treatment and provide support to your pet as best you can.
And if you need some support, our Pet Nannies at Pet Nanny Inc are ready and waiting to help you and your pet adjust to a diabetes management lifestyle. Follow us on our social media accounts or give us a call at 734-981-6108. Alternatively, you can use our on-line contact form and we’ll get in touch with you!