November Is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month

Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for animal diabetes.
Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for animal diabetes. | Source

During the month when many people eat to excess, veterinarians are trying to draw attention to the growing problem of animal diabetes. This serious health issue is on the rise in the United States for people as well as pets. Dogs and cats are developing the disease at a rate never before seen in this country. The obesity epidemic plays a large role in this. Just as people are getting heavier and wider, so are their pets. With 50 percent of companion animals being above their ideal weight, obesity is the leading risk factor for developing diabetes. Some of the other contributing factors include:

  • Genetic link
  • Age over 10 years
  • Low-quality diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Other health conditions that cause insulin resistance, such as hyperthyroidism or pancreatitis

According to a report found at the Pet Health Network, as many as one dog or cat in 50 has diabetes. Unlike humans, Type I is far more prevalent than Type II.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Pets

It’s important for pet owners to recognize the symptoms of diabetes so treatment can begin right away. This is especially true for those whose pets are older or overweight. The longer your pet has untreated elevated blood sugar, the higher the risk of serious health consequences. Please schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog or cat:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Low energy
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inability to keep fur clean
  • Weight loss

Having some of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean your pet has diabetes. A veterinarian should only make a positive diagnosis of diabetes after ruling out all other possibilities. Diabetes is likely when your dog or cat has high amounts of glucose and ketones in the urine. If your pet’s veterinarian discovers this after testing, the next step should be measuring the concentration of glucose in your pet’s blood. A definitive diagnosis requires a high concentration of glucose in both the blood and urine.

Your pet’s veterinarian should discuss proper home care if he or she does diagnosis diabetes. This includes changing the diet to high-quality food that is easier for your pet to digest. Some pets also require daily administration of insulin to keep their diabetes in check. Lastly, your veterinarian or a technician should teach you how to monitor your pet’s diabetes at home as well as recognize the signs of dangerously low blood sugar. These include:

  • Head tilting
  • Unsteadiness when walking
  • Restlessness
  • Shivering
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

You should contact your veterinarian or the nearest emergency veterinary clinic after hours if you recognize any of these symptoms.

Pets with Diabetes Can Still Live Healthy Lives

Veterinary groups started Pet Diabetes Awareness Month after noting that the diagnosis took many owners by surprise. Some people are genuinely unaware that pets develop many of the same diseases that people do. Although it can be shocking to hear that your beloved pet has diabetes, it’s not a death sentence by any means. With early detection, diligence to improving diet, helping your pet maintain a healthy weight, and daily monitoring of symptoms, you can expect your faithful companion to be with you for many more years.


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