This article was originally published on dLife.com—a website dedicated to helping people with diabetes live happier and healthier lives—as "Pets and Diabetes" and is reposted with permission from the author.
Sometimes man's best friend can end up with diabetes — and so can their feline counterparts.
Do you know the facts about diabetes and pets? Learn the symptoms to watch out for and some diabetes treatment options to keep your furry buddies happy and healthy.
Pets Can Get Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes (Just Like Humans!)
A recent study by American Veterinarians found that 53% of dogs and 72% of cats are considered overweight or obese — and that puts them at risk for diabetes. Your pets can get type 1 and type 2 diabetes. (And not just household pets — even horses can get diabetes!)
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Here Are The Symptoms To Look Out For
- Weight Loss. If your pet is losing weight despite eating a lot, that is a clear sign that something is wrong. If you notice rapid weight loss in your pet, consult your vet immediately.
- Increased Thirst and Urination. Another symptom is if your pet has very sticky urine or is having frequent "accidents" or an extremely wet litter box.
- Increased Appetite. As previously discussed, if your pet is eating plenty but losing weight, this could be a sign of diabetes.
- Increased Chronic Infections. If your dog or cat is experiencing chronic bladder infections, kidney infections, or even wounds that won't heal properly, this could also be a sign of diabetes.
How To Diagnose A Dog Or A Cat
Often, dogs are often diagnosed with diabetes because the owner notices a sudden change in the dog's vision. This fast change is a result of rapid cataract development that often occurs in dogs with diabetes.
Cats are often diagnosed with diabetes because the owner notices the cat has weak rear legs or it is walking on its hocks. This weakness of the hind legs is diabetic neuropathy, and walking on the hocks is called "plantigrade posture."
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How Is Diabetes "Officially" Diagnosed In Pets?
A full panel of blood work, a urinalysis, and an interpretation of appropriate history signs (changes in thirst, weight, urination) will be conducted by your vet and will determine if your pet has diabetes. If diabetes is diagnosed, your vet will help you create a treatment plan that will keep your pet at its healthiest.
How Pets Are Treated For Diabetes
Pets with diabetes are often treated with insulin injections that are administered by their owner. Some pets may be able to control their diabetes through a change in diet and/or oral meds.
A blood glucose meter, like the ones used by humans, can be used to test blood glucose levels in your pet, often by taking a blood sample from the animal's ear.
Glucose testing is often used to help determine the right amount of insulin for your pet, and many times people use urine testing as an alternative to blood testing, once insulin doses are determined. Target blood sugars for pets are similar to those of humans, ranging from 80-120 mg/dL.
One meter that is FDA approved for testing animals is the AlphaTrack from Abbott, but some pet owners use meters that humans use — check with your vet and see what they think is best for at-home monitoring.
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How To Manage Your Pet's Diabetes
Exercise is important for a pet with diabetes, so getting in plenty of walks (or maybe buying a laser pointer for your indoor cat) will help keep your cat or dog healthy. Staying active is a good way to keep your pet's diabetes controlled.
Pets with diabetes can experience low and high blood sugars, just like humans can. If your pet is having a hypoglycemic event, they may be weak, lethargic, difficult to wake, and may have seizures.
Talk to your vet about what would be the best fast-acting sugar to keep on hand. High blood sugars will most likely taking extra insulin, but individual treatments may vary — consult your vet for how to handle these numbers.
Diabetes is a challenge to manage, but if you are a dedicated owner and ready to commit to the best health possible for your pet, your pet can live a long and healthy life. No bones about it!
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