As animals are living longer lives, the presence of certain age-related diseases is becoming more common. Although diabetes is not directly age related, it is more common in older pets as well as pets that are obese. If detected early, diabetes is a very manageable disease and your pet can live a long and happy life.

cat on a scaleWhat is Diabetes in Pets?

Diabetes mellitus occurs when an animal’s body can no longer utilize glucose properly. The body makes glucose naturally through the breakdown of food. The glucose enters the bloodstream and travels to the body’s tissues and cells. Insulin is made in the pancreas and is required to transport glucose from the bloodstream into those cells. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood and causes hyperglycemia. As the blood sugar builds up, it will eventually spill into the urine, causing glycosuria. As the sugar goes into the urine it brings water with it, causing the animal to urinate and drink more. Since the cells cannot obtain energy through the use of glucose, the body breaks down fat and muscle for energy, resulting in weight loss.

Signs

The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the better the outcome for the patient is. Certain sign’s that pet owners should look for include:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Weight loss
  • Change in appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Chronic/recurring infections

Testing & Treatment

Diabetes is diagnosed through lab work including bloodwork and a urinalysis to check for increased levels of glucose in the pet’s blood and urine. If diabetes has been diagnosed, the veterinarian will work with the owner and pet to determine the proper type of insulin and the proper dosage. Insulin injections are given under the skin twice daily after eating to aid in the transport of glucose from the blood into the cells. It is important to monitor the pet’s weight, appetite, drinking, and urination as well as weekly glucose checks while determining the right insulin dosage. Dietary changes are often recommended as well.

If you see similar changes in your pet, or have any questions about diabetes, please don’t hesitate to call us at (860) 489-4231.