November is National Pet Diabetes. The purpose is to raise awareness about diabetes in pets, the signs, and what we can do to screen pets for diabetes to begin treatment before the condition begins seriously affecting them.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus (more commonly referred to as diabetes) is a chronic health condition that occurs when the body cannot properly use glucose which is a type of sugar that is the main fuel source for the body’s cells.
The inability to process or use glucose properly results in elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) and eventually sugar present in the urine (glucosuria). Glucosuria results in the need for the kidneys to draw in large volumes of water, and this is why many pets with diabetes exhibit elevated levels of thirst and an increased frequency of urination.
Risk Factors for Diabetes in Pets
While any pet can develop diabetes, certain pets are at a greater risk of developing diabetes than others. This includes dogs above age 4, cats above age 6, female pets, and pets that have undergone a prolonged use of certain medications. Additionally, certain breeds of dogs have a genetic predisposition to developing diabetes. Pets that are overweight or obese are also at an increased risk.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes in Pets
Signs and symptoms of diabetes in pets include:
Excessive thirst, water intake, and increased urination
Changes in appetite
Cloudy eyes (especially dogs)
Chronic or recurring infections (such as skin infections, ear infections, and urinary tract infections)
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your pet, it’s important to schedule a veterinary examination and diabetes screening appointment right away.
The Importance of Diagnosing and Treating Diabetes Early
Untreated diabetes can lead to a whole host of secondary health issues that can negatively impact a pet’s quality of life. Untreated diabetes can also be life-threatening. With an early diagnosis and prompt treatment, we can work with you to keep your pet’s diabetes under control, mitigating secondary health concerns, and while keeping your pet happy and healthy for life.
Should Your Pet Be Tested for Diabetes?
To diagnose diabetes in a pet, lab tests must be performed to determine whether or not the pet has consistently increased levels of sugar in the blood and urine. Samples for these tests are typically taken after a pet has fasted for a period of time.
We might recommend screening your pet for diabetes if they fall into a high-risk category or as a part of a senior pet’s wellness exam. To learn more about diabetes in pets, we welcome you to schedule an appointment at South Meadow Animal Clinic today.
At South Meadow Animal Clinic, we are dedicated to providing the highest level of veterinary medicine along with friendly, compassionate service. We treat every patient as if they are our own pet, and give them the same loving attention and care.