National Pet Diabetes Month – Know the Signs, Reduce the Risk

A golden retriever with their owner eating a treatWhen people hear the word diabetes they often associate it with epidemic of type II diabetes among people, but lifestyle and diet related conditions are on the rise among pets as well. And, while there are numerous factors that correlate with the disease in cats and dogs, pet diabetes is most often linked to age and obesity.

In observance of National Pet Diabetes Month, we at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital want to cover some of the steps to preventing diabetes as well as how you can help your diabetic pet live the healthiest life possible.

Causes of Pet Diabetes

Just like us, as our pets grow older they become more susceptible to disease and age-related conditions. That is why veterinarians emphasize the importance of more frequent physical exams for pets 6-7 years of age and older.

As suggested, while certain factors play a role in a pet developing diabetes, such as breed and chronic pancreatitis, weight seems to be a key determinant to this disease.

Obesity in pets is attributed to numerous health problems by creating a greater toll on the systems of the body – beginning with the cells. Over time, obesity can cause insulin resistance and high blood sugar, which produces the conditions we recognition as diabetes.

Although symptoms can vary between cats and dogs, the following are common signs of pet diabetes:

  • Increased thirst/water consumption
  • Frequent urination and/or accidents
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping more, less interest in activity
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Change in gait, or difficulty walking (especially true in felines)

Early diagnosis plays a critical role in preventing subsequent health problems that are caused by untreated diabetes, like cataracts, blindness, and renal failure.

If you have noticed any of these symptoms in your pet – particularly, if he or she is older and/or struggles with extra weight, please schedule an appointment.

Treating Diabetes in Cats and Dogs

While diabetes can be a devastating diagnosis for a pet owner who is concerned for their pet’s well-being, the good news is that it can be managed. Many pets begin to lead healthier lives when the condition is managed and certain lifestyle elements that once contributed to the disease are changed.

Once a diagnosis has been reached through a physical exam and lab tests, your veterinary team at Rocklin Ranch creates a treatment plan that is individualized to your pet, based on how the disease has progressed and whether there is the presence of secondary health problems.

In most cases, your pet will require daily insulin shots, coupled with nutritional supplements and dietary changes. At first, this might seem daunting, but we will work with you as you gain confidence and comfort in the routine, knowing it is helping your pet.

The positive aspect of diabetes awareness is in knowing type II diabetes is preventable. To lower your pet’s risk, keep your pet at his or her recommended weight. You can do this by following portion guidelines for meals, cutting out people foods or scraps, providing opportunities for exercise, and ensuring your pet is seen each year for important wellness exams.

For those whose pets have been recently diagnosed, it’s important be optimistic in the fact that many diabetic pets live long, active, and healthy lives when given the treatment plan they need and the lifestyle changes that encourage wellness.