Recognizing Pet Diabetes and How to Care for Your Diabetic Pet

Sacramento CA dog with pet diabetes

November is National Pet Diabetes Month and the team at East Sacramento Veterinary Center wants to give our pet owners pertinent education and awareness around this disease. Diabetes in both dogs and cats (although, rare in felines) is on the rise in the United States. Without the proper treatment and at home care, it can cause devastating effects in our four-legged friends. The good news is that we have a better understanding of the disease and options for treating it for a better life for pets diagnosed.

It is important to understand the early signs of diabetes, so that you can get your pet on the correct treatment right away. Let’s take a closer look at pet diabetes.

An Overview of Pet Diabetes

Diabetes has two types, Type 1 and Type 2. While there are rare cases of Type 1 Diabetes in cats and dogs, the more common is Type 2. Like in humans, Type 2 has become more commonly diagnosed over the past few decades. Type 2 Diabetes, also called Diabetes mellitus, is a form of diabetes that occurs when the insulin isn’t being used effectively. 

In a healthy dog or cat, food is broken down into various nutrients that include glucose (sugar). The glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the digestive tract. The pancreas releases insulin that is essential for glucose to be absorbed. In insulin resistant diabetes the body cannot use the insulin as it should, as opposed to insulin deficiency, when there isn’t enough insulin being produced.

There are multiple factors in whether or not a dog or cat develops diabetes, and it can impact any pet at any life stage. But there are some pets who are more at risk, including unspayed females, senior pets, obese pets, those on steroids, and those with Cushing’s disease or have had bouts of pancreatitis.

What Are the Symptoms?

Early detection is imperative for successful prognosis for your pet. In many cases, the signs can be subtle, but by knowing what to expect with certain aspects of this disease, you can notice the red flags.

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Sweet smelling breath
  • Lethargy
  • Infections
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Blindness

To determine if your pet has diabetes, your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination and do a complete set of labs, including checking your dog’s sugar levels, liver enzymes, and electrolytes. 

Is There a Cure for Pet Diabetes?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes in pets. The silver lining is that many pets live a long, full life when you actively participate in the treatments. Most pets will need daily or twice daily insulin shots. It may sound daunting, but your veterinarian will show you how to administer them and your pet will adjust to the routine.

Other pets will also do well by changing to a diabetes friendly diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity not only contributes to diabetes, but also several other illnesses. Daily exercise is also key to good health (and encourages better behavior, too).
For more information on diabetes in pets, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us.