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Help for Pet Diabetes

A photo of an older golden retriever resting on a log.
Published on: November 6, 2017

Focus on happy, healthy pets!

November is National Pet Diabetes month! Anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs develops diabetes. Pet industry professionals believe this number will grow as more of our cats and dogs struggle with obesity. We want everyone to spoil their pets, but it’s important to focus on healthy treat and food choices first. Here is a rundown of some of the risks, symptoms and treatments for pet diabetes.

What is pet diabetes?

The CDC says, “Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should.” In dogs, diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune disease.

What are the risks?

A photo of two keeshonds sitting in the grass.Besides obesity, the disease is more common in older female dogs ages six to nine years old. Some breeds that seem to have a greater risk for diabetes are Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and Samoyeds. Pet MD reports diabetes can happen in younger pets as well. It’s particularly common in golden retrievers and keeshonds, so talk to your vet early if you have one of these breeds.

Pet parents can get nervous when their beloved cat or dog is diagnosed with diabetes. It wasn’t too long ago that pet diabetes was a death sentence for a furry family member. However, with advances in healthy foods, medicine and care options, a happy life for a pet with diabetes is possible.

Two of the most important factors are a good relationship with a vet you can call on regularly and constant self-education on the disease. Caninediabetes.org says pets can live an average life span with proper insulin therapy. Your pet can maintain a happy, healthy life if treated properly. Pet diabetes is very similar to diabetes in people. Pets will use the same medications, equipment and monitoring as a human diabetes patient. Learn what you can from both worlds to aid your pet, and talk often with your vet to discover the newest advancements. Always check with your vet before you make any changes to your pet’s regular diet or exercise.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of pet diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst and drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Changes in appetite
  • May see lethargy
  • Thinning, dry and dull coat
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs)
  • Doesn’t groom (cats)
  • Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
  • Dehydration
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vomiting
  • Chronic skin infections

Treatment

A photo of a dog fetching a ball. Regular exercise is important for pet diabetes care.A veterinarian will help you establish an insulin baseline for your pet. Injections are best administered 20 minutes after your companion is fed. The only treatment for canine diabetes are regular insulin injections, however cats can take oral medications. Your vet will help you choose the best method for your pet, so talk with them about all the options.

Diet is also very important and should include a high quality, consistent source of protein. Avoid treats that are high in glucose, and make sure to read ingredient panels carefully. For diet suggestions stop in at your locally owned Wag N’ Wash and talk to a team member about foods that are high in proteins and lower in carbohydrates. Regular exercise is also important, and it should remain fairly consistent from day to day because it can affect glucose levels. Your vet can help you choose a routine that best suits you and your companion animal, so schedule regular visits.

Untreated diabetes can cause a lot of problems, so make sure to visit your vet regularly and keep an eye out for early symptoms.

You may want to brush up on more pet diabetes information, so talk to your vet if you think your pet is at risk. Two great online resources to learn more about the subject are petdiabetes.com and caninediabetes.org.

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