The prevalence of diabetes in pets is growing. According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2016 Report, diabetes in dogs has increased by nearly 80 percent since 2006 and by more than 18 percent in cats over the same time period. These findings stress the importance of observing National Pet Diabetes Month in November, marking a time for pet owners to educate themselves on the signs of diabetes and its risk factors. Reliable and accurate information on diabetes can be found on TexVetPets.org, the veterinary professional-written and peer-reviewed pet health website of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA). The website’s article on diabetes covers common signs, such as lethargy, excessive thirst and frequent urination; diagnostic testing; treatment options and prognoses.
Pet owners will learn that if their pets are showing signs of diabetes, it is vital to take them to be examined by their veterinarian because these signs may mean their pet is diabetic. With early diagnosis and proper care, a pet with diabetes can live a happy, healthy and active life.
Diabetes Management Varies For Dogs and Cats
Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to process or release proper amounts of insulin, resulting in high blood glucose levels. Treating diabetes in dogs most often requires insulin injections, but in cats, it can sometimes be managed by weight loss and diet changes. Once your veterinarian has diagnosed a pet with diabetes, he or she will determine the most effective management plan for the owner to follow.
“Diabetic animals require frequent monitoring, including blood tests, and insulin-dependent diabetics typically require injections every 12 hours,” said TVMA Past President Lori Teller, DVM, DABVP, CVJ, who practices at Meyerland Animal Clinic in Houston. “It is much easier to prevent diabetes than it is to treat it, especially in cats, so maintain your pet at an appropriate weight and get regular veterinary exams. If your pet is displaying the signs of diabetes, have it examined very soon before it progresses to a life-threatening state.”
Obesity, Age and Genetics Increase Risks of Pets Developing Diabetes
While diabetes can’t always be prevented, obesity has shown to be a contributing factor, especially in cats. Other risk factors in dogs include age, genetics and intact females. Dog breeds that have a higher risk of developing diabetes include cocker spaniels, pomeranians, golden retrievers and dachshunds. Age, genetics, disorders such as chronic pancreatitis or hyperthyroidism and neutering in males are among the risk factors in cats.
There is no cure for diabetes, so effective management of the disease is crucial to your pet’s quality of life. Partner with your veterinarian to establish a treatment to ensure a happy and active life for your pet.