Do pets get diabetes too?
Absolutely they do! Diabetes mellitus is not uncommon in dogs and cats. It occurs when the insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas are destroyed and the body is no longer able to regulate the essential nutrient glucose (sugar), this results in high levels in the blood and urine. The diagnosis of diabetes generally relies on different testing methods. Since the disease always results in an elevated blood sugar level, some form of measurement of glucose, in both blood and urine, is used.
Diabetes mellitus can strike at any age but typically appears in the middle to senior years (5 and older for dogs, 10 and older for cats.) Symptoms may be hard to notice at first, learn to recognize the signs early and contact your veterinarian as soon as they are noticed:
- Increased urination
- Increased thirst
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss, even though appetite is good or increased
Those are the first signs usually seen, your pet may exhibit one or many of them. Keep in mind they are also general signs of many diseases such as kidney failure or urinary problems, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease and more. A trip to the vet is the only way to diagnose for sure.
Signs as diabetes progresses:
- Loss of appetite
- Sweet/chemical smelling breath
*from ketones, by-product of fat breakdown, since sugar can’t be utilized
- Weak muscle tone and muscle wasting
*cats may have “dropped hocks” walking crouch-like
- Cataracts (dogs)
- Seizures, coma, death
Treatment of diabetes involves controlling blood sugar with insulin as well as diet and exercise for essential weight control. The type of insulin your veterinarian chooses will be tailored to your pets specific needs to provide optimum regulation of blood sugar. A blood glucose curve will determine the right dose of insulin then curves will be done periodically to monitor your pet’s progress.