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Nov 08, 2021

You and Your Diabetic Pet

Garden State Veterinary Specialists

Diabetes is a disease with which most of us are familiar. What most people may not realize, however, is that our pets can suffer from this disease as well. The most common form of diabetes suffered by dogs and cats is Diabetes Mellitus. This is a condition of insulin deficiency. Insulin allows glucose (sugar), which the body absorbs and manufactures, to get into the cells of the body. Without insulin, the cells have no access to glucose, and the cells experience a state of starvation. Since the glucose cannot gain entry into the cells, it builds up in the blood and overflows into the urine. 

A pet that is suffering from weight loss, ravenous appetite, increased water consumption and urination should be examined by your primary veterinarian for evaluation of their symptoms and diagnostic tests. Failure to treat diabetes can result in elevated blood sugar levels, leading to dehydration and body chemistry disorders which can eventually cause coma and death. It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. 

Your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate course of treatment for your pet. Most diabetic pets require one or two daily injections of insulin to control blood glucose levels. These treatments can be easily administered by an owner with training from their veterinarian. Finding the right treatment protocol can be more challenging especially for feline patients. It is difficult to keep a cat regulated and diabetic cats in 15 to 20 percent of cases experience a phenomenon that is termed spontaneous remission, which means the cat is no longer diabetic. The cat may be normal for a few weeks or many months, however, diabetes will almost always return because these cats have limited ability to make insulin. 

Your primary veterinarian may suggest a consultation with an internal medicine specialist to determine the proper treatment protocol for your pet. Specialists work with your primary veterinarian to provide optimal medical care to your pet.

To make caring for your diabetic pet more comfortable for both of you, the American Animal Hospital Association has made certain recommendations: 

• Develop a routine for your pet and stick with it. A consistent routine will help you learn your pet’s normal behavior so that you can spot signs that may indicate a hypoglycemic attack.

• Keep a daily journal, recording activity levels, insulin injections, diet and behavior.

• Have your pet wear a diabetic identification tag in case he gets lost.

• Never leave home without sugar in case your pet suffers from a hypoglycemic attack. Liquid sugar such as Karo syrup and honey works best.

Diabetes does not have to be a life-threatening disease. Your pet requires consistent administration of medication and feeding, as well as stable, stress-free lifestyle. With your love and support, your diabetic pet can live a normal, happy and healthy life. 

The material provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a veterinarian.