Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body cannot properly produce or respond to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is used by the body to help the sugar, glucose, into the cells. It is like a key to a door. Without this key, the glucose levels in the blood increase. The body cannot use the normal energy source it is used to so the metabolism changes to utilize a different energy source. This change causes many problems in the body and can lead to sickness.
What are some of the signs that my pet may be diabetic?
In the early stages of diabetes you may notice an increased water consumption, increased urination, great appetite while losing weight. In the late stages of disease pet’s can get very sick and stop eating.
How is diabetes treated?
Insulin injections are almost always needed to control diabetes in dogs and cats. A diet change can help as well. In humans some oral medications can help lower glucose levels but these are not as effective or safe in pets.
What are the risk factors of diabetes in dogs and cats?
Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, glucocorticoid (steroid) medications, increasing age
Can diabetes be prevented?
Some cases can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle just like in people. Increased physical activity and a healthy diet can help. Plus regular screenings for diabetes at least yearly can detect diabetes at an early stage before severe consequences of the disease develop.
Can my pet live a normal life with diabetes?
The goal of treatment is to restore normal glucose levels which will resolve the increased water consumption and urination, normalizing the appetite and the ongoing weight loss. If managed most pets can do well for many years. Some cats can even go into remission and be weaned off insulin overtime. Since dogs usually have diabetes that resembles type 1 diabetes of humans they are not able to be taken off insulin. Keep in mind diabetes management takes a lot of care and monitoring on the part of the pet parents.