Diabetes is becoming a common disease in dogs and cats in the United States. According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s website, diabetes cases have increased by 80% in dogs and 23% in cats since 2016. That is a big jump! But Why are pets getting diabetes all of the sudden? Let’s learn a little more about how this disease is affecting pets, and what we can do to help prevent pets from getting diabetes.
What Is Diabetes?
Like humans, when a pet has diabetes, their body is having a hard time regulating insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone that aids in allowing blood sugars (glucose) to enter the bodies’ tissues and cells. There are two types of diabetes, known as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a lack of insulin in the body, and Type 2 diabetes is the body having an inadequate response to insulin and not processing it normally. When there is an insulin deficiency, it causes the body to have high blood sugar levels, also known as hypercalcemia.
What Are The Symptoms of Diabetes in Pets?
Some of the most common symptoms caused by diabetes are:
- Excessive thirst, which leads to excessive urination;
- Changes in appetite
- Weight Loss
- Muscle Wasting
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Development of Cataracts or blindness
Be aware of your pet’s normal eating, drinking, and bathroom habits so that you can recognize if something in their routine suddenly changes. With diabetes, the sooner you can address the disease, the sooner your pet will be back on track to good health.
What Can Cause Diabetes?
Several health problems in dogs and cats can cause diabetes. Some of these health problems include:
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas),
- Cushing’s disease
Aside from specific health problems, research suggests that female dogs and cats that have not been spayed can also have a risk of getting diabetes because female sex hormones can influence insulin levels in their system. Genetics can also be a factor because there are certain breeds of dogs that have a higher risk of getting diabetes. These breeds include some breeds of Terriers, Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Poodles, Keeshonds, Golden Retrievers, Miniature Pinschers, and Samoyeds. Keep in mind that just because you may own any of the listed dog breeds, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are guaranteed to get diabetes, it is just a commonly known disease for the breed.
How Could Diabetes Impact My Pet’s Lifestyle?
If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, it doesn’t mean they are doomed. There will need to be some lifestyle changes, and that is dependent on every pet’s situation and what the veterinarian recommends. For example, your pet will likely need to have regular insulin shots.
- If your pet needs insulin, you will need to keep a close eye to ensure your pet is regularly eating.
- In the beginning, you and your veterinarian will both need to monitor your pet’s blood glucose levels to ensure the insulin injections are helping regulate the blood glucose back to “normal” levels.
- Regulating blood glucose levels will help eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of diabetes and help reduce the chances of developing further health problems.
How Can I Prevent My Pet From Getting Diabetes?
Because there are so many variables involved with the disease, there is no guarantee that your pet is “safe” from getting diabetes. However, there are several things you can do to help reduce the chances.
- Maintain a proper feeding and exercise schedule to avoid obesity. Feed low calorie treats to ensure your pet is not getting excess carbohydrates, which could lead to weight gain.
- Spaying your female pets will help regulate the sex hormones that are released when they are in heat from influencing the insulin levels in their system.
- Keep regular wellness appointments with your pet’s veterinarian. Other diseases affecting hormones, or the pancreas can also cause diabetes.
- Knowing your pet’s routine of eating, drinking, and bathroom habits will help you notice if something is “wrong” with your pet.
A Healthy Lifestyle Will Help Ensure A Healthy Pet
Like in humans, most risks of disease can be significantly reduced with a healthy lifestyle. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!
- Ensuring that you are feeding your pet a quality food with reasonable amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates and “fillers” will help your pet’s internal organs function well.
- Proper exercise will help your pet burn off the extra carbohydrates and calories from their food.
- Monitoring how much you feed your pet and feeding healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables will help reduce weight gain.
- Always having clean, fresh water available will help ensure your pet stays hydrated and flushes toxins out of their system.
The bottom line is, like with humans, you can significantly reduce your pet’s chance of getting diabetes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your pet and knowing your pet’s regular routines.
For More Information on Diabetes in Pets, Check out the Following Websites:
Pet Diabetes Website: http://www.petdiabetes.com/
Vet Chick Website: https://vetchick.com/2016/11/insulinshots/
Pet MD website: https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/endocrine/c_ct_diabetes_mellitus
Canine Diabetes Website: http://www.caninediabetes.org/dogfood.html#anchor302048
Veterinary Partner.Com: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952921
Banfield Pet Hospital: https://www.banfield.com/