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Published on April 19th, 2017 | by Debbie Martin

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Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

Diabetes is one of the most common hormonal conditions in our beloved four legged friends, most frequently occurring in middle aged dogs (very common in unspayed bitches) although in some case diabetes can be diagnosed as young as 18 months.

Diabetes Mellitus to give it it’s full name occurs when the body stops making or responding to insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas). Once your dog has finished eating, his digestive system begins to break down the food into various components, including glucose. Glucose is then carried into the cells by insulin. A diabetic dog is unable to absorb and use glucose effectively within his cells, causing an elevation of blood sugar levels, which left untreated can cause many serious health problems.chihuahua,white shepherd and a jack russel terrier

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs include: change in appetite, excessive thirst/increase of water intake, weight loss, increased urination and cataract formation. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, please contact you vet immediately.

There are 2 main types of diabetes – Type 1 (lack of insulin production) and Type 2 (inadequate response to insulin). Both forms of diabetes will usually require a daily or twice daily dose of insulin to maintain a steady concentration of glucose in your dog’s blood, avoiding levels becoming too high or too low. Your vet will be able to inform you of your dog’s specific requirements once relevant blood tests/check-ups have been performed.

The dose of insulin is administered either by injection or using a special insulin ‘Pen’ to do the injection and is painless for your dog; however, some owners may find this difficult at first. If this is the case your vet and nursing team will be on hand to provide you with plenty of support and advice.

Your vet will also explain to you about the importance of diet and exercise in a diabetic dog. Medication should be given at the same time every day in conjunction with mealtimes. Sticking to this routine will lessen the chances of any changes in the blood sugar levels as there will be increased nutrients in the blood to match the increase of insulin. It is also very important to remember to avoid feeding treats which are high in sugar.

Monitoring the blood sugar level of your dog is a vital part of controlling the condition. This can be done in several ways; however, the most common method is to measure fructosamine which is a protein in the blood that can give an indication of the blood sugar level. This monitoring is likely to be done by your vet at regular checks ups, in addition to urine sampling. Regular monitoring allows the vet to assess your dog’s current insulin requirements and whether their medication levels need changing.

Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes is one of the most common hormonal conditions diagnosed in cats, but fortunately in most cases it can be diagnosed and managed successfully. It is more common in older cats, neutered cats, female cats and also obese cats. Diabetes in cats appears to be very similar to a Type 2 diabetes, in that the disease is characterised by abnormalities within the pancreas that interfere with the ability to produce insulin and also the ability of the tissues in the body to respond to the insulin that is produced.

Symptoms that may indicate a cat has diabetes include excessive drinking, frequent urination, increased appetite, weight loss, lethargy and dry and dull hair. Pair of Egyptian Mau Cats

Most cats do require insulin therapy by injection or by using a special insulin ‘Pen’ to administer the injection to control their diabetes, but in milder cases oral medications and diet can be used to control the condition. Some owners can be worried about having to inject their cat on a daily basis however, it is something that most cats accept readily and your vet and nursing team can help with advice and training.

Weight loss in obese cats is a vital part of treatment for those suffering with diabetes. In a small number of cases appropriate weight loss and diet management can result in cats being able to come of insulin treatment.

Monitoring the blood sugar level of your cat is a vital part of controlling the condition. This can be done in several ways; however, the most common method is to measure fructosamine which is a protein in the blood that can give an indication of the blood sugar level. This monitoring is likely to be done by your vet at regular checks ups, in addition to urine sampling. Regular monitoring allows the vet to assess your cat’s current insulin requirements and whether their medication levels need changing.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.



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