All about Canine and Feline
Diabetes in Dogs and Cats:
Diabetes mellitus is a disease involving glucose (sugar) in the blood and
insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the body to regulate blood glucose.
Diabetes occurs when your petís body has too much blood glucose because he
either doesnít produce enough insulin or is insensitive to the available
insulin in his body.
According to Dr. Ted Cohn of the University Hills Animal Hospital in
Denver, Colorado, diabetes is one of the most common hormonal disorders in
dogs and cats. The disease is most often seen in older, overweight female
dogs and cats.
Find out if your pet is overweight with an easy to read chart online here:
There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes results
from a deficiency of insulin in the body due to an insufficient number of
insulin-producing cells. Type I diabetes is the most serious form of the
disease and most often develops in young pets. Type I diabetes is not
Type II diabetes is more common, resulting from a bodyís
resistance to the effects of insulin. Older, obese pets are more susceptible
to type II diabetes because fat cells may become resistant to insulin. Weight
control through diet and exercise may help prevent the onset of type II
"Veterinarians can provide nutritional and exercise counseling, and
wellness testing to help prevent the onset of diabetes," says Dr. Cohn.
"Since obesity is an underlying factor in the disease, keeping your cat
or dog trim and healthy may help prevent diabetes."
Common signs of diabetes in your pet include increased water consumption
and frequency of urination. Weight loss despite a large appetite may also
occur. Left uncontrolled, diabetes can become a life-threatening condition for
your pet. Failure to treat diabetes results in elevated blood sugar levels
leading to dehydration and body chemistry disorders that can eventually cause
coma and death.
Take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of
these changes in his or her behavior or physical appearance. Your veterinarian
will conduct a thorough physical examination, including blood and urine tests
to determine if your pet has diabetes.
Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate course of treatment for
your pet. Most diabetic pets require one or two daily injections of insulin to
control blood glucose levels. Your veterinarian can train you in proper
injection techniques to make the experience more comfortable for you and your
Treatment may also include:
- A combination of oral medication and a special veterinarian recommended
diet. Dr. Cohn recommends a diet high in protein for diabetic cats and a
high-fiber diet for diabetic dogs.
- Proper weight management consisting of diet and regular exercise.
- Spaying in female diabetic pets.
- Treating a diabetic pet involves close monitoring. Some pet owners
monitor their petís blood glucose levels themselves to keep tabs on
their petís condition at home. Medication, diet and activity levels need
to be supervised on a daily basis to determine if treatment is effective.
Insulin overdose may cause low blood glucose levels, resulting in
disorientation, weakness or seizures. If you notice any of these signs in an
otherwise responsive pet, offer the pet food. If the pet is unconscious, apply
Karo syrup or honey to his or her gums. In either case, contact your
Administering insulin injections
Daily insulin injections are the most effective means of treating diabetic
pets. With proper instruction from your veterinarian, patience and practice,
administering insulin to your pet does not have to be an unpleasant
Keep the following tips in mind:
Relax. If you are nervous or fearful about giving the injection, your pet
might pick up on your emotions and become nervous too. Take a deep breath and
relax before administering the injection. Calm your pet down by gently
massaging him before giving the injection.
Warm the insulin before injecting it by holding the syringe filled with
insulin between your fingers for a minute. Injecting cold insulin may cause
discomfort in your pet. Never use hot water, microwave or any other heating
device to warm the insulin.
Reward your pet so that she associates the injections with a pleasant
experience. Show your pet a treat before administering the injection and give
the treat to her immediately after the injection.
Teach "sit and stay" so that your dog will sit still during the
injections. Practice "sit and stay" when you are not going to give
an injection as well, and your pet will not immediately assume that sitting
means that he is going to get a shot.
Living with a diabetic pet
Caring for a diabetic pet can be a fulfilling experience, and diabetic pets
can provide just as much companionship and enjoyment as your other pets.
According to Dr. Cohn, pet owners should not expect their diabetic pets to
have a significantly shorter life span than healthy pets. The following
suggestions may make caring for your pet more comfortable for both of you:
- Develop a good relationship with your veterinarian. Donít be afraid to
ask questions about your petís condition and treatment plan.
- Have your pet wear a "Diabetic" identification tag in case he
- Develop a routine for your pet and stick with it. A consistent routine
will reduce mistakes and help you learn your petís normal behavior so
you can spot signs that may indicate a hypoglycemic attack.
- Keep a daily journal, recording activity levels, insulin injections,
diet and behavior.
- Never leave home without sugar in case your pet suffers from a
hypoglycemic attack. Liquid sugar such as Karo syrup and honey work best,
but raw sugar is also effective.
Diabetes does not have to be a life-threatening disease. While diabetes cannot
be cured, with consistent treatment, patience and love, your diabetic pet can
live a normal, happy, healthy life.
The best thing you can do to help your pet
live the longest life possible is feed them
with a Premium food.
Find out more:
Premium Food for Dogs and Cats
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