A cat in front of its bowl

Aside from the fact that an animal looks their best when at the proper weight, maintaining a slender silhouette is essential for overall health. Without a doubt, even a few extra pounds on a cat or dog can risk their well being. Joint pain and arthritis are the most obvious side effects of added weight, but diabetes in pets is a serious threat to longevity and quality of life.

Diabetes in pets is becoming more common these days, but with an eye on prevention this diagnosis doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion.

The Science of Diabetes in Pets

Diabetes in pets is a disease of the pancreas. Also known as diabetes mellitus, this condition centers on glucose, a type of sugar from food that feeds the cells in the body. Glucose is controlled and regulated by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.

In diabetic pets, the pancreas either doesn’t produce adequate levels of insulin or their body can’t use available insulin properly. When glucose can’t be metabolized by the cells, it’s spilled out into the urine. The body may alternatively break down fat and muscle stores to feed the cells.

Diabetes in pets triggers various symptoms such as:

  • Increased thirst and water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Appetite shifts (could be suddenly more or less hungry)
  • Weight loss
  • Fruity scented breath
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Vision problems

It’s also not unheard of for diabetes in pets to lead to urinary infections and even kidney failure if left untreated.

The Scope

Diabetes in pets is more common in aging or senior animals, but it can affect all pets regardless of age. Certain breeds may be genetically predisposed to diabetes. In some patients, losing weight and changing diet can control symptoms. If diabetes in pets is not weight-related, medications and insulin injections may be necessary throughout the duration of the pet’s life.

Catching Diabetes in Pets Early On

The best prognosis for diabetes in pets is directly related to early detection. If you notice any of the above-listed symptoms, please schedule an appointment. Blood and urine tests can confirm the diagnosis, but it’s important to rule out other concurrent conditions as well.

A Long Haul, But Not Impossible

Insulin must be injected under the skin (similar to a routine vaccination), and we can teach you  the best ways to handle your pet. Close monitoring and adjustments must be made every day before dosing. Regular exams and diagnostics are also critical to managing diabetes in pets.

We also recommend consistent monitoring of your pet’s drinking and eating habits and their weight. Switching to a specially-formulated diet (and adhering to strict portion control) can help manage symptoms and weight. Lastly, exercise has a huge impact in diabetic pets.

Healthy & Happy

Diabetes in pets can be effectively managed, but the condition does increase the risk of pancreatitis, cataracts, urinary tract infections, hind leg weakness due to low blood potassium (hypokalemia), and high blood pressure.

If we can assist you with questions or concerns regarding diabetes in pets, our veterinarians and staff members at Harris Parkway Animal Hospital are always here for you.