Did you know that dogs and cats can become diabetic?
Just like us they can develop diabetes as a result of poor diet and lifestyle. Middle aged, sedentary and overweight dogs and cats are at higher risk of developing diabetes. There may also be a genetic predisposition in some breeds such as the Burmese. In cats, high carbohydrate diets are also implicated as a causative factor. This is because cats have evolved to eat an all meat diet and they are not good at metabolizing carbohydrate.
Diabetes is caused by a lack of production of insulin by the pancreas. Insulin helps the body use glucose for energy and thus helps regulate blood glucose. Diabetics have high blood glucose but lose weight because they are unable to use it. Untreated diabetics may also become sick due to numerous possible complications.
If your pet becomes diabetic you may notice an increase in thirst, hunger and urination, usually with corresponding weight loss. Blood and urine tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Managing a diabetic requires feeding a good quality low fat diet and giving insulin injections twice a day. Most dogs and cats adjust easily to these injections as they involve a small volume given through a very small needle. It often helps to give them a treat or a reward after their injection. They will need to visit the vet regularly until they become stable and the correct dose of insulin is worked out. Some pets may become non insulin dependent once they are stabilized but most require injections for the rest of their life.
Diabetic cats and dogs can usually look forward to a long healthy life if they are well managed. If you suspect your pet may be diabetic please book in to see one of our vets for a checkup.