November is Pet Diabetes Month--a time dedicated to better understanding this disease and educating pet owners on the signs and symptoms. Why does diabetes matter so much? When it comes to your pets, it doesn’t discriminate. Diabetes can affect pets of all species, ages, and sizes. Knowing what to look for can be the difference between helping your pet manage the disease and possible death.
1. Pets of All Shapes and Sizes Can Develop Diabetes
Genetics is the strongest factor in whether or not a pet becomes diabetic. Some breeds and species simply have a greater likelihood of becoming diabetic. This disease isn’t a sign of poor pet parenting, it’s often just the genetic lottery. This is to say that two cats with similar weight, diet, and activity level do not share the same likelihood of becoming diabetic. One may and the other may not.
There are some breeds that have higher rates of diabetes, though. These include Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Retrievers, Labs, and Pomeranians. Even if you don’t own one of these breeds, you will still want to pay close attention to your dog for signs and symptoms of diabetes.
So, are there other factors that play into whether or not a pet is at high risk for diabetes? Yes. Because diabetes is a disease related to insulin uptake, pets with the following preconditions have a higher disposition for diabetes:
- Excess weight
- Lack of exercise
- Staying indoors, not going on walks
- A history of pancreatitis or hyperthyroidism
2. The Signs of Diabetes Aren’t Always Obvious
Unless you’re looking for them, the signs of diabetes can go unnoticed. For example, one of the most common symptoms of diabetes is excessive thirst. Many pet parents may just think their pet is drinking more, and don’t consider that their pet may have a medical condition. Other signs include:
- Frequent urination
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Milky or cloudy eyes
- Recurring skin or urinary infections
Schedule an appointment to bring your pet if you notice your pet exhibiting these signs. All it takes is some simple blood tests and we can determine if your pet is or is not diabetic, and begin your pet on a management plan.
3. Diabetes Can Often Be Prevented in Cats
Often diabetes in felines can be prevented before it becomes permanent. Helping your cat slim down or keeping your kitty trim is the first step in diabetes prevention. This change doesn’t have to be difficult for you or your cat. Using a weight management food and measuring your kitty’s portions is simple. The next step is actually quite fun: provide your cat with more exercise opportunities. Engage your cat in play. Invest in some new toys, catnip, and even a laser pointer.
4. Early Diagnosis Makes a Difference
Living with untreated diabetes can be miserable for your pet. The longer your pet goes undiagnosed, the more difficult it can be to treat the disease. If you suspect your pet has any of the signs of diabetes, it’s important to have her checked. Too often pet parents wait until the problem becomes an emergency and their dog or cat is ketonic. When a pet gets to that point, he or she can lose their life, immediate care can be costly, and pets frequently have to stay with us much longer.
Cats can go into remission after about 3 to 6 months and dogs can be stabilized more quickly.
5. Diabetic Pets Can Live Long Healthy Lives
If your pet is diabetic, we can begin your pet on an insulin routine immediately. We are happy to support you through the process of learning to administer insulin and provide for your pet’s needs. Additionally, we can talk to you about warning signs that your pet is experiencing an insulin overdose or a ketogenic relapse.
We’re Here to Help You and Your Precious Pet
If you’re unsure of your pet’s health status or you suspect she may have diabetes, we are here to provide you with answers. We can diagnose your pet before the holiday celebrations and the arrival of your pet sitter. We want your pet to feel her best each and every day. So, don’t delay. Make your appointment today.
Image credit: fongleon356 / iStock / Getty Images Plus