Diabetes and Pets
Just like people, diabetes is a fairly common disease of dogs and cats. Blood sugar regulation is performed by the pancreas by producing insulin. Most diabetic cases are Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, in which the pet requires insulin therapy for control of blood sugar. Cats sometimes will have Type 2, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, in which diet and weight loss can help stabilize blood sugar levels without requiring insulin for life. A dramatic increase in water intake and subsequent increased urination are some of the first recognizable signs of diabetes, and it is always recommended you see a veterinarian. Other common signs include increased appetite and weight loss. The best way to check for diabetes is to run a blood glucose test, but your veterinarian may also want to run a complete blood and urine panel to rule out any other diseases.
If your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, a special food will be prescribed and insulin therapy will be instituted. A special prescription food that is low in fat and carbohydrates, and high in protein and fiber will be recommended, along with a strict twice daily meal feeding plan. Treats and snacks in between meals can make regulation of diabetes difficult as they can cause blood sugar to spike, so twice daily meals are best for control of signs. Insulin is given under the skin twice daily after meal feedings. Your veterinarian can teach you how to give the insulin injections, but most dogs and cats tolerate insulin injections very well.
Monitoring of diabetes includes frequent blood and urine checks, and periodic glucose curves. A glucose curve involves blood sugar checks on your pet every 1-2 hours throughout a 8-12 hour period. Because the insulin types we use for pets typically last around 12 hours, these curves give us the best idea how your pet is responding to insulin therapy and how to make insulin dose changes.
Although it can become financially challenging if problems arise, many dogs and cats live normal, happy lives with appropriate treatment and monitoring of this disease. If you have questions or concerns about diabetes, please contact your veterinarian.
Dr. Apryl Barton
The Pet Hospitals– Poplar at Massey