Not So Sweet: Pet Diabetes and You
Diabetes is a pretty common health issue in human medicine and many of us are familiar with what it is. Oftentimes, though, pet owners don’t realize that this potentially serious health condition can affect dogs and cats as well. The Whole Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center knows how important it is to you to keep your furry friends healthy, and understanding a little bit about pet diabetes can help you to accomplish that.
The Basics of Pet Diabetes
Under normal circumstances, an abdominal organ called the pancreas makes the hormone insulin. Insulin is released into the bloodstream in response to digestion and is responsible for allowing the body’s cells to absorb glucose. Glucose is a form of energy derived from the carbohydrates that have been ingested that the body can use. In the case of diabetes mellitus, the most commonly encountered form of diabetes in pets, there is not sufficient insulin to accomplish this.
This can happen when the pancreas fails to produce significant amounts of insulin or when the body’s cells become resistant to insulin, failing to respond to normal insulin production levels. Regardless of the cause, the result is an overabundance of glucose in the bloodstream and not enough glucose energy inside the cells themselves.
This imbalance results in several characteristic symptoms which include:
- Ravenous appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Decrease in energy
- A dull haircoat
- Development of cataracts (dogs)
There are other disease processes that may appear similarly. If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms it is important to contact us right away so that we can determine the cause and get started with appropriate treatment.
When diagnosed appropriately, pet diabetes is typically manageable. Untreated, however, it can have pretty serious consequences just as in people.
What Pet Owners Can Do
No one wants to see their pet suffer through pet diabetes. While diseases like diabetes are not entirely preventable, there certainly are some things you can do to lessen the odds. Be sure to remember that:
- You are what you eat—Good nutrition and weight management are key to pet wellness. Knowing what and how much to feed your dog or cat is important. Our staff is able to help you determine how many calories your pet should be eating. We can also make recommendations for a good quality diet that fits your pet’s needs. If your pet is overweight, we can help to formulate a diet plan. We are happy to provide nutritional counseling as needed.
- Exercise is key—Getting your pet moving is an important part of staying healthy. Your dog needs at least 15-30 minutes of physical activity daily while cats should get two 10 minute bursts. Encourage activity with laser lights, a special ball, feather lures, crinkly balls, or catnip.
- Pancreatitis is the pits—The pancreas is key to producing insulin, and keeping it healthy is important to ensuring that it does so. Pancreatitis can cause scarring and a decrease in the ability to produce insulin. Fatty, rich foods like bacon, gravy, or buttery treats can trigger pancreatitis in pets.
Sometimes, though, diabetes happens despite doing everything right. If it does, working together as a team to support your pet is key to success in managing this chronic condition. Dietary therapy and insulin injections are often a part of this and very doable for most.
The Whole Pet Vet wants pet owners in the Santa Clara County area to know that we are here for you if your pet needs care for diabetes or anything else that comes your way. Contact us today with any questions or concerns.