Protecting Your Pet From the Effects of Diabetes

Diabetes has been in the news quite a bit lately. Along with the human obesity epidemic has come a cry from public health officials, doctors, and researchers to communicate the very real danger of being overweight, specifically as it relates to becoming diabetic. November was named National Diabetes Month in an effort to educate humans about the condition and its repercussions.

But diabetes is a condition that does not just affect humans. Many pets and companion animals have the condition as well. Some pets develop diabetes after becoming overweight, and others develop it simply as a matter of course. So, November has also been named National Pet Diabetes Month, to help educate pet owners and animal lovers about how diabetes can affect dogs and cats.

In this post, we’ll discuss diabetes in some detail and how it might affect your pet or companion animal. Then we’ll delve into both diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus in some detail, letting you know how they might affect your pet and what treatment options (as well as preventive measures) are available.

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats who have diabetes have either lost, or never had the ability to either create or fully utilize insulin to convert the food they eat into the energy they need to thrive. Without the ability to make or use insulin, excess sugar is left in a pet’s blood. This can lead to a variety of problems, such as lethargy, weight gain, and others.

With adequate treatment, a dog or cat with diabetes can still live a happy, long, and full life, but treatment is necessary. Make sure that if your pet suffers any of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, that you get them checked out and treated by a vet. Diabetes can be a very serious, even life-threatening condition in some cases.

Diabetes Mellitus in Pets

There are two main types of diabetes that can affect pets: Diabetes Mellitus (both Type I and Type II), and Diabetes Insipidus (DI). Diabetes Mellitus is far more common in cats and dogs than Diabetes Insipidus.

Type I Diabetes Mellitus is also known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes and is caused by the destruction of the dog or cat’s beta cells (the cells that produce insulin). In Type II Diabetes Mellitus, or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes, some of the insulin-producing cells are left in tact, just not enough to do a complete job of regulating the animal’s blood sugar.

Both types of Diabetes Mellitus are characterized by increased urination, increased thirst and hunger, and weight loss in the early stages. Later stage symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, anorexia, depression, and vomiting. Diabetes Mellitus cannot be cured, but it can be managed through blood sugar monitoring and treatment with insulin.

Diabetes Insipidus and Your Pet

Diabetes Insipidus, which also goes by the names “weak diabetes” and “watery diabetes,” is considerably more rare in pets than Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Insipidus affects a pet’s ability to metabolize water, resulting in the dog or cat expelling water that it should be storing in its tissues.

Therefore the primary symptom of this condition is excessive thirst and urination. There are two types of Diabetes Insipidus, and both are caused by hormone deficiencies. Neurogenic DI is caused by a lack of vasopressin (which helps the body retain water), while Nephrogenic DI is caused by a lack of the hormone ADH (which helps the body control urination).

This type of diabetes is diagnosed by veterinarians through a series of blood and urine tests and can typically be treated with hormone therapy, though it cannot be cured at this time.

Protecting Your Companion Animal From Diabetes

Now that you’ve educated yourself regarding the types of diabetes affecting pets, their causes, signs, and symptoms, you just need to watch for the warning signs. If your pet exhibits any of the symptoms of diabetes, do not hesitate to get them looked at by your vet. Diabetes is only manageable if it is treated, so consider using National Pet Diabetes Month as the ideal time to take your pet to the veterinarian.

Author: Giano Panzarella