Diabetes in Animals

Although humans are the most talked about victims of diabetes, animals are often diagnosed with this metabolic disease as well. In fact, according to Pet Diabetes Monthly, up to 1 percent of cats and dogs develop diabetes.

Causes

Obesity decreases tissue responsiveness to insulin, and can thus put a dog or cat at greater risk for diabetes. Age is also a contributing factor, for most animals develop diabetes later in their lives.

Cats

Burmese cats may have a genetic predisposition to diabetes. Also, male cats are twice as likely as female cats to have diabetes.

Dogs

Golden retrievers, German shepherds, miniature schnauzers, Keeshonden, and poodles all have the highest rate of diabetes, but all breeds are susceptible to the disease. Female dogs with diabetes outnumber male dogs three to one.

Symptoms

Both cats and dogs exhibit these signs of early diabetes:

  • Frequent urination
  • Drinkings large amounts of water
  • Increased appetite
  • Inexplicable weight loss
  • Rapid, labored breathing

Blood and urine tests can determine whether the animal has elevated glucose levels.

The signs of more advanced diabetes in both cats and dogs are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy

Dogs may also develop cataracts as the diabetes progresses.

Treatment

For both cats and dogs, diabetes affects all of the organs, which means that diabetic animals have a greater likelihood of contracting infections or developing neurological problems if the diabetes goes untreated. It is therefore important for owners to continually bring the diabetic pet to the veterinarian to check for other health issues.

Cats

If a cat is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they will have to receive daily insulin injections. The owners will administer these shots and will be shown the proper procedure by their veterinarian.

If a cat has type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type of feline diabetes, oral medication may be used instead of insulin injections, though usually they are administered as a supplement, not as a replacement, for the injections.

The third type of diabetes in cats is called "transient diabetes," which is when cats with type 2 diabetes begin to re-regulate their insulin intake, and consequently, they are able to stop receiving insulin injections.

No matter what type of diabetes your cat has, diet control will be a significant part of his or her treatment. A high-protein, low-carb diet is recommended.

Also, continual blood and urine tests and physical exams by the veterinarian are necessary. Usually, a diabetic cat will need to be taken to the vet every few months.

Dogs

Dogs can develop either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, though type 1 is the most common form found in dogs. For both types, daily injections of insulin are used to regulate the diabetic dog, the dose of which is established by the veterinarian and dependent upon the individual dog.

Insulin therapy is started at home immediately, and after a week of treatment, the dog returns to the vet to go through testing. This testing determines when the blood sugar of the dog spikes and lowers throughout the span of 12-24 hours.

The owner of the dog will administer the insulin injections and may monitor urine glucose levels. Both of these procedures will be explained to the owner by the veterinarian.

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