What is Pet Diabetes?

What is Pet Diabetes?

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the body can’t use glucose, which is a type of sugar, normally. All the cells in the body rely on glucose as their main source of energy. The pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which regulates the levels of glucose in the body.

Sugars are one of the nutrients that gets absorbed when food passes through the intestines, where the sugars are converted into simple sugars, like glucose. These simple sugars get absorbed into the bloodstream, where they circulate and get delivered to tissues and cells. Insulin is responsible for the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream to the cells; when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood — this is called hyperglycemia. Eventually, as glucose builds up and reaches a certain level, it overflows into urine and attracts large amounts of water with it. This causes one of the early symptoms of diabetes in pets: excessive water drinking and more frequent urination, usually in larger amounts.

Additionally, if there is not enough glucose delivered to the body’s cells, there isn’t enough energy for those cells to function. As a result, the tissues become starved for energy, causing breakdown of fat and muscle tissue to be converted by the liver into sugar. This causes another early symptom of pet diabetes: weight loss.


What are the signs of diabetes in pets?

As mentioned above, excessive water drinking, frequent and larger amounts of urination, and weight loss are some of the early signs that your pet may have diabetes. Other symptoms include decreased appetite, recurring infections (such as skin and urinary), and cloudy eyes (especially in dogs).


Can my pet be treated?

First, a diagnosis must be made by a veterinarian through a blood and/or urine test to rule out any other medical conditions.

Once diagnosed, the veterinarian will prescribe the dose and type of insulin that your pet requires and teach you how to administer it to your pet. This involves injecting the pet with a very small needle. The prescription may change over time and it is recommended that you follow dietary guidelines for feeding your pet.


How can I care for my pet at home?

Maintaining your pets blood sugar levels is key in addition to sufficient exercise and a healthy diet. There is a risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if your pet is not eating enough to balance the insulin’s removal of sugars from the bloodstream.

For dogs, a high-fiber diet and daily exercise is recommended. Female dogs with diabetes should be considered to get spayed.

For cats, a high-protein, low-carb diet and daily exercise is recommended.

Owners also must regularly check your pet’s blood and urine sugar levels and take your pets for routine examinations. Older pets with diabetes are also more likely to develop long-term complications such as cataracts. Other conditions include hind leg weakness due to low blood potassium, high blood pressure, or lower urinary tract infections.


What do I do if I suspect that my pet has an insulin overdose?

If you notice that your pet is experiencing weakness, tremors or seizures, or loss of appetite, your pet may be having insulin overdose. Call your veterinarian or an emergency clinic immediately for further instruction.

Signs of an insulin overdose are similar to signs of insulin under-dose. Never change your pet’s dosage unless instructed by a veterinarian. 

Please consult with your veterinarian about questions regarding you’re pet’s health or management.

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