Pets Can Have Diabetes Too

Diabetes is a result of the body’s failure to properly produce insulin or make proper use of the insulin that it does produce. A hormone that converts the sugar and starch digested in food into energy, insulin is crucial to the body’s optimal functioning. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects more than 23 million Americans, many of which are unaware they are diabetic because they do not recognize the symptoms of diabetes. As with humans, many pet owners are also unaware that their pets have diabetes for the same reasons. Unfortunately, domestic pets, such as dogs and cats, go undiagnosed and untreated for diabetes until the symptoms begin to cause noticeable problems for the animal.

Dogs are prone to developing diabetes when they are young. This early onset may be caused by genetic factors, but if detected early enough, it can be managed with insulin treatment. Certain dog breeds, such as miniature toy poodles and Miniature Schnauzers, are more commonly affected with diabetes than other breeds, but any breed can develop insulin deficiencies resulting in diabetes.

Aging or overweight cats are also commonly afflicted with diabetes regardless of the breed. While felines can also be predisposed to diabetes due to genetics, an improper diet can also contribute to them becoming diabetic. In cats, the disease is sometimes short-lived.

The symptoms of diabetes in pets are frequent urination and increased water consumption due to dehydration, weight loss despite no change in appetite, loss of energy, repeated infections, cataracts and in more advanced stages, neurological symptoms may occur.

The best way to avoid diabetes in pets is to make sure that dogs and cats are eating a healthy diet, avoiding obesity, and getting proper amounts of exercise. Store bought pet foods are especially formulated for a pet’s dietary needs, or owners may opt for serving homemade meals with recipes that are targeted specifically for dogs and cats. To prevent diabetes and other illnesses, it is best to avoid feeding animals foods that may not supply all of the nourishment that they need, and snacks foods, especially sweets intended for human consumption, should always be avoided.

Early detection is the best way that any pet owner can begin to treat an animal that is displaying the signs and symptoms of diabetes. The earlier a pet is treated, the better its chances of enjoying a good quality of life despite having diabetes. Cats that are treated early are also likely to only have transient diabetes, which is a reversible form of the disease, as opposed to being afflicted with diabetes for the rest of their lives.

Once a pet has tested positive for diabetes, keeping it under control with regular insulin supplements and a diabetic pet diet is crucial in assuring that the animal’s symptoms don’t worsen and become life threatening. Insulin therapy is the most commonly prescribed treatment for dogs with diabetes, and a veterinarian can teach owners how to properly administer daily injections in order to prolong the dog’s health. While insulin injections are also commonly prescribed for feline diabetes, depending on a number of factors, the insulin therapy for cats may only require treatment for a few weeks or months.

Managing pet diabetes takes extra effort and care on behalf of the pet’s owner. Some owners unable to provide quality care at times have to make the difficult decision to give their diabetic dog or cat up for adoption instead. Others reach out to supportive networks of other pet owners who are faced with the daily task of caring for a pet with diabetes. A growing number of resources are available to educate pet owners on the issue of pet diabetes as every pet owner should be aware of the disease in order to make a best effort at avoiding it or detecting it early in their pet.