In November, there is a lot of focus on the festivities ahead so it is good that we also pay attention to the huge health problem that diabetes presents. As American Diabetes Month, awareness is spread around the country and people will be helped. However, it is a little known fact that this same month is also seen as Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. Sadly, this is becoming a larger problem in our pets every single year so it is important to raise awareness of the problem while still spreading knowledge of how to spot the problem within cats and dogs.
Currently, there are around one and a half million pets in the US alone that suffer with diabetes mellitus; with this condition, high blood sugar levels are seen. As mentioned, this problem is growing larger and so it is an issue that needs our attention during this important month and for the rest of the year too.
What is Pet Diabetes?
Resulting from either an insulin shortage or misuse, your pet can experience low blood sugar levels which leads to a number of symptoms which we will discuss in just a moment. In humans, we have type 1 and type 2 diabetes and these also occur in pets. With type 1 diabetes, your pet will struggle to produce a sufficient amount of insulin and with type 2 diabetes, your pet will not be using the insulin in the correct way which is normally due to insulin resistance.
As an anabolic hormone, insulin will move amino acids, sugar, fatty acids, and electrolytes into the cells within the body. If there isn’t enough insulin being produced, they will stay outside of the cells which means that the cells will become starved of nutrients. In truth, this type of diabetes is actually rare and it will normally come as a result of the lifestyle of the pet.
In terms of type 2 diabetes, this is also called adult onset diabetes because it will show when your pet reaches midlife. Sometimes, their body will become inefficient when dealing with insulin and the problems will start. Of course, you can’t see how well your pet is handling insulin so you need to look out for a few key symptoms.
Thirsty – Firstly, you may notice that they are drinking more water than normal. Over a period of one day, this could be a coincidence or another cause but you should stay wary if it lasts for an extended period of time.
Obesity – Ultimately, all pets need to be kept on a balanced diet just like humans because obesity will lead to diabetes. If your pet is overweight, talk to the vet about their diet whilst keeping an eye out for some of these other symptoms.
Increase Urination – Over time, you may notice that they are urinating more often or that they are having accidents where they were normally good at letting you know. If this occurs, it can be a sign of polyuria which can lead to polydipsia (drinking more frequently).
For diabetes in pets, these first three symptoms go hand in hand in that one normally leads to the other so these will be the main ones to check. However, you will not be able to diagnose a problem yourself because thirst and increased urination can also be signs of other health problems. Therefore, you will need to contact a vet and maybe even take along a sample of your pet’s urine.
Hunger – If you are feeding your pet the same amount of food but they are no longer getting satisfaction from it, this could be a sign because the key nutrients aren’t getting into the cells. If they do get inside, they aren’t being utilised as they should.
Depression – Although this may not happen at the beginning, depression can be caused a little later because of the imbalance of ketones. Initially, ketones are produced when there is a deficiency in insulin.
Weight Loss – Even if your pet shows signs of an increased appetite, you may also notice that they suddenly lose weight. Why? Because diabetes can lead to increased metabolism which therefore means that their food is being process quicker than they can consume it. Furthermore, the energy that food normally provides will not be used efficiently. Even though they are consuming more calories, they can still lose weight.
Weakness – Over time, diabetes will cause the back muscles and legs to waste which can lead to fatigue and weakness. Because there is a lack of blood sugar, they will also lose energy and they will no longer enjoy going for runs. Instead, they would prefer to just sit and try to sleep the tiredness off. Although it can be found in both types, this is especially true for sufferers of type 2 diabetes.
Vomiting – If your pet doesn’t get to the vet and receive treatment early enough, you may also notice increased vomiting. Normally, this will come from the ketoacidosis – imbalance of ketones – and is most common in dachshunds, miniature poodles, and older pets.
Thin Hair – Although thin, dull, and dry hair can be symptoms of many health problems, diabetes is included in this list so it is another symptom that could lead to you visiting the vet.
Cloudy Eyes – Finally, cataracts can be seen in many dogs that develop diabetes and, if not monitored correctly, this can lead to further problems and even blindness.
There we have it, these are some simple symptoms to look out for in your pets. As long as you pick it up early enough, your vet will have more options to solve the problem. If you know anyone else who owns a pet, why not share this information with them during this Pet Diabetes Awareness Month and long after?