Doctor, my pet is thirsty all the time and now he’s been having accidents in the house! “He’s been eating okay, but he seems thinner and acts a little tired.” These are common observations made by the owners of diabetic pet.
Diabetes Mellitus is a common disease of both dogs and cats due to a deficiency of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin is necessary to transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to the cells of the body. Without insulin, the body thinks it is starving, and starts to break down muscle and fat for energy needs. While the rest of the body can use other sources of energy, the brain can only use glucose to function, so adequate insulin is essential.
Often pet owners don’t realize changes in their pet’s habits until the disease has progressed. Changes are usually subtle at first. Common clinical signs include: weight loss, excessive drinking, and urination, muscle weakness, cataracts, lethargy, recurrent urinary tract infections, and even pets licking up their “sweet” urine. As metabolic imbalances become more severe, stupor, coma, seizures and even death are possible. Diabetes can affect any pet but is seen most commonly in older, overweight female dogs and male cats. Diagnosis can be made by a simple blood test revealing high blood sugar levels. Effective treatment proto-cols are available but require consistent dedicated effort on the part of the owner and veterinarian. Treatments range from special diets, natural supplements, exercise and most commonly use of insulin by daily injections. The initial control of diabetes can be challenging. The selection of insulin type, dosage, frequency of administration, dietary changes are all determined by the veterinarian during the first week of treatment and require periodic monitoring.
Fortunately, most pets respond well to treatment and live normal, happy lives. The key to success is early diagnosis and consistent effort by loving pet owners.
Compliments of Dr. Whall Fairland Animal Hospital 301-622-2115