November is nationally recognised as National Diabetes Month for us humans, but did you know that the same month is also Pet Diabetes Awareness Month? It’s a vital time to raise awareness of the increasing epidemic that affects our canine and feline family members.
Pet diabetes is a serious life-threatening disease that is increasingly common in older cats and dogs, overweight pets, and certain breeds. Diabetes happens because the body stops making, or responding to, a hormone known as insulin which controls the amount of sugar in the blood. Without insulin, the body is unable to turn sugar into energy which means that high sugar levels in the blood results in sugar being passed out in their urine. Diabetes, if left untreated, can lead to other illnesses such as eye and kidney disease, and even premature death.
If you are worried that your pet is slowing down, consuming more water than usual or suddenly losing lots of weight, it could be a sign of diabetes and we would strongly recommend you contact your local vet for further veterinary advice.
Here are some vital diabetes symptoms in dogs and cats that you can keep an eye out for:
As with all illnesses, prevention is far better than cure, and luckily diabetes can usually be diagnosed through a simple urine test (we offer these tests free of charge for pets over the age of eight!).
In this test, we take a look at the glucose levels in your pet’s urine. If your pet’s urine shows the presence of glucose, the next step would be to take a blood test and, if glucose is spotted at a high level in their blood as well as in their urine, we can consider it a definite diagnosis of diabetes.
Sadly, there isn’t a cure for diabetes but affected pets can still lead normal lives through lifelong treatment.
Treatment will usually involve regular insulin injections and, whilst this may sound daunting at first, pet owners master it very quickly – your local vet will be able to help you feel comfortable with this process.
Nutrition is also key for pets with diabetes and there are a number of diets designed specifically to suit their requirements; they contain slow-releasing carbohydrates to prevent your pet from experiencing sugar rushes. Your vet will be able to advise you on a suitable diet that will help your pet maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
We offer free geriatric health checks for pets over the age of eight at selected Medivet practices,which include a free urine screening. To find out more about free urine tests for your pet, our friendly team of vets and nurses are always happy to lend a helping hand, so feel free to contact your local Medivet for more information and advice.
Posted October 19, 2016 in Pet Care Advice