Diabetes Awareness Month for Pets
What It Is:
Diabetes in dogs and cats is caused by an inability to process or release proper amounts of insulin, resulting in high blood glucose levels. While humans have a few different types of diabetes, pets are diagnosed with only two: insulin-deficiency diabetes mellitus (IDD/IDDM) and insulin-resistance diabetes also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IRD/NIDDM). The difference really lies in the treatment, as both are diabetes and should be handled as equally important.
Know The Signs!
Early warning signs of diabetes in your cat or dog include:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Excessive hunger while losing weight
- Cloudy eyes (dogs)
- Doesn’t groom (cats)
- Thinning, dry, and dull hair
While diabetes can’t always be prevented, obesity has shown to be a contributing factor, especially in cats. Risk factors in dogs include age and genetics. Some breeds having a greater disposition to the disease than others, but ask your vet if your pet is at risk.
How to Manage It:
It’s not easy taking on a highly regimented diabetic care schedule for your dog or cat, but the routine will become second nature soon enough. With the help of your vet, you can develop a great treatment plan based on proper medicine and healthy living choices such as diet and exercise. It’s important to keep your pet’s glucose levels close to normal so they don’t develop complications such as cataracts, kidney disease, or additional infections. Regular testing of your pet’s blood sugar helps to reveal problems before they become emergencies, but also lets you know that the treatment plan is working.
Want to Know More?
Merck Animal Health has a wealth of information about diabetic pets, and the Morris Animal Foundation provides extensive research on feline diabetes. You can also get more information on diabetes in dogs and cats on the Healthy Paws blog.