In order to think about whether your pet might be at risk for diabetes, it’s first important to have an understanding of what diabetes is all about. Basically, diabetes occurs when the body is unable to utilize glucose (a type of sugar) in a normal manner. Glucose is the major source of energy for the body’s cells and the levels of glucose in the blood are primarily under the control of insulin which is a hormone produced by the pancreas.
The Role of Glucose
In diabetics, there is insufficient glucose transported into the body’s cells. This means that there is not enough energy for the cells to function properly and the body’s tissues become starved for energy. This causes the body to look for other sources of energy and it begins to break down fat and muscle tissue that will then be converted by the liver into energy-providing sugar. This breakdown of bodily tissues brings about a common sign of diabetes in dogs and cats – weight loss.
Type I and Type II Diabetes in Pets
In human patients, there are two kinds of diabetes, Type I and Type II. The difference between these two types of diabetes is less clear in dogs and cats than it is in humans.
Type I – The pancreas does not produce enough insulin.
Type II – The body doesn’t respond normally to the amount of insulin made by the pancreas.
Which Pets are Most at Risk for Diabetes?
Pets that are overweight and are being fed a high carbohydrate diet are more prone to diabetes. Cats that are obese are four times as likely to develop the condition than are cats who have normal weights.
Female dogs are more disposed than males to becoming diabetic. With cats, it’s the other way around – male cats have double the likelihood of developing diabetes than females.
With dogs, dachshunds and miniature poodles have a high incidence of diabetes, but no cat breeds are predisposed to develop the condition.
What are the Signs of Diabetes in Pets?
Noticing the early warning symptoms of diabetes is important. The earlier the diagnosis of diabetes, the better chance your pet may have for a longer and healthier life. So, if you become aware of any of the following, take your pet to the vet to be checked out.
- Excessive drinking of water and increased urination.
- Loss of weight.
- Decrease in appetite.
- Cloudy eyes (particularly in dogs).
- Chronic or recurring infections (including urinary tract and skin infections).
Why is Diabetes a Dangerous Condition for Pets?
Diabetic dogs and cats are at a higher risk for a whole host of related conditions, some of them very serious – bladder infections, kidney disease, cataracts, blindness, nerve deterioration, paralysis, comas, and gangrene.
All is Not Lost if Your Pet is Diagnosed with Diabetes
Your diabetic dog or cat can live a long and healthy life with proper care. However, you should be aware that a diabetic emergency may occur because of extremely low or extremely high blood sugar levels. If you live in the Columbia, South Carolina area CVETS is here for your pet in case of any kind of emergency situation, including one arising out of diabetes. Bring your friend to us for the best in emergency care.