Pet Diabetes: What You Need to Know
Diabetes is not just a human disease. Your Pensacola veterinarian at Brentwood Animal Hospital may test your pet for diabetes during a wellness visit, especially for elderly dogs and cats. Since 2011, vets have seen a 32 percent increase in dogs and a 16 percent increase in cats. Are you wondering what you should know about this lifechanging disease?
What is Pet Diabetes?
Diabetes, whether in humans or pets, occurs when the body stops being able to use glucose properly. Glucose, or sugar, is how cells get energy. If you think of the membrane around a cell as a wall with a door and lock, insulin is the key. Insulin opens the membrane to let glucose in to be transformed into energy.
Insulin controls the level of glucose, too. A lack of insulin means no glucose gets in and too much will flood the cell. Without glucose, cells don’t have enough energy and tissue starves. In response, the pet’s body will break down muscle and tissue for energy.
Having diabetes is like having someone change the lock. Either the cell can't use the insulin anymore (insulin resistance) or the dog or cat’s body stops making it. When that happens, glucose builds up in the blood.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Diabetes comes with symptoms pet owners in Pensacola should keep in mind. Watch for excessive thirst, for example. When sugar accumulates in the blood of a cat or dog, it can spill over into the urine and that pulls in excess water, so your pet will be thirsty. Other symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Cloudy eyes — mostly in dogs
How do Veterinarians Diagnose Diabetes?
The vet will look for high levels of sugar in the blood and in your pet's urine. The doctor will also consider your pet’s history of weight loss and infections. There may be more blood tests done to rule out conditions other than diabetes.
It can be necessary to monitor your pet’s sugar levels over several weeks to verify the diagnosis, too. Some pets will be on the borderline, what's called prediabetes. Prediabetes means that changes in lifestyle and diet may be enough to prevent the disease.
What Happens if Your Dog or Cat Has Diabetes?
Diabetes affects each animal differently, so an individualized care plan will help manage your pet’s illness.
The most common approach involves insulin injections. This is something you can do at home — the vet will show you how. There may also be a need to prescribe a special diet and to increase exercise.