What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a condition that occurs when the body cannot use glucose (a type of sugar) normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are primarily controlled by a hormone called insulin that is made in the pancreas.
Normally, glucose is converted to sugars the body can use in the intestines and transferred to other parts of the body where it can use this form of energy. In insulin patients, there is not enough insulin or the body cannot use its insulin to convert glucose, so it accumulates. This accumulation causes side effects of increased blood sugar which makes the patient feel like they have to drink more water. Also, the body becomes starved for nutrients and begins to breakdown fat and muscle causing weight loss.
In humans, diabetic patients are classified as type I and II. In pets the relationship is less clear but we can say that our dog and cat patients resemble the human form of type I Diabetes.
So, Doc, I think my pet has diabetes, what are the signs again?
As stated above, the two most common clinical signs we will see in our dog and cat patients are
· Excessive water drinking and increased urination
· Weight loss, even though there may be an increased appetite
Other less common signs
· Decreased appetite
· Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)
Pets at risk
· Older dogs and cats (average age is between 7-10)
· Obese dogs and cats
· Female dogs ~ 2:1 vs male dogs
· Long term steroid use (example: prednisone, steroid injections for allergies)
Diabetes in pets is almost exclusively treated with insulin and diet. Rarely do we see pets go into remission and for this reason we prepare owners that this is a lifelong treatment that can have serious complications and can be tough to manage. At Lafayette Veterinary Care Center, we focus on communication and education of this disease process so we can work as a team to manage this debilitating disease.
Many types of insulin exist and there are different options for dogs and cats. There are some human insulins that carry over into the pet care world but it is always best to consult with the doctors at Lafayette Veterinary Care Center to help make this selection. There are even some newer options now that aid in delivering precise insulin in a less painful injection called a VetPen ©. Diet is a major cornerstone of the treatment process and fortunately, there are many good options for treatment including veterinary nutritionists that can aid in home cooked meals.
If you feel that your pet may be experiencing symptoms of diabetes, please contact us for an exam. We are here to help your pet live their best life!
Visit us online: www.lafayettevets.com