November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. Allentown Animal Clinic is spreading awareness by educating owners about the disease, predisposing factors, and diabetes management. Diabetes in pets is very similar to diabetes in humans but management can be difficult so it’s important to know the facts and understand the disease.
Diabetes is caused by the pancreas failing to regulate blood sugar. When the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin to push the glucose from the blood into the tissue cells the diabetic patient has an elevation of blood glucose, or sugar. Diabetes most often occurs in pets over the age of 5.
Most commonly, early symptoms will include excessive drinking, excessive urination, and weight loss.
Fortunately, diagnosis for the disease is fairly simple and straight forward. Your veterinarian will test a blood sample to check for elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Your vet may also check a urine sample to check for the presence of glucose or ketones. While the results of the blood sample may be falsely affected if your pet has eaten a large meal recently or is stressed at the time the blood sample is taken, your vet can distinguish a false elevation based on other clinical factors.
If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, the initial financial costs may be expensive, but the maintenance cost is typically minimal, provided there are not additional complications. Management of diabetes can provide your pet with a long, happy life but does require a personal commitment on the part of the owner.
Unfortunately, oral medications that can be very effective for people with diabetes do not work for dogs and cats. Pets must receive insulin injections usually twice a day, in order to regulate the pet’s condition. Many veterinarians also prescribe prescription diets to aid in the management of the disease. Restricting your pet’s diet and being sure he/she is eating the same amount and same type of food on a daily basis will help to ensure that your pet requires the same amount of insulin each day, as well.
If your pet is showing any signs of diabetes, be sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy and happy life.