Some of the risk factors that put humans at risk for diabetes also put pets at risk. Genetics play a big role which often we can do nothing about, but a good diet, exercise, healthy weight and healthy lifestyle can prevent even genetically predisposed animals from getting diabetes.
What is diabetes? Diabetes is the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows the body to utilize sugar from the blood stream. When there isn’t enough insulin in the blood and tissues, the sugar stays in the blood stream causing hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. Over time, this hyperglycemia causes a number of abnormalities of the body. The most notable symptom is severely increased thirst, coupled with increased urination. Other symptoms your pet might exhibit are weight loss (which often goes unnoticed or welcomed because the pet was overweight to begin with), change in appetite (increase or decrease), vomiting or diarrhea. Severe signs accompany long-standing diabetes and these include severe dehydration, weakness, collapse, coma or even death.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that requires insulin injections once or twice a day, and strict monitoring. It can be an expensive disease to manage and pets can still have side effects of diabetes even when treated. Diabetes is a disease best to be prevented.
As mentioned above, prevention is primarily achieved by maintaining a healthy weight, feeding a healthy diet and trying to keep up with exercise. Diets that are high in carbohydrates like corn or wheat can cause spikes in blood sugar, so if your pet is at risk for diabetes a grain free or low carbohydrate diet might be of benefit. This is especially true in cats.
If you have any concerns that your pet might have diabetes, blood and urine tests can check for the disease. If you worry that your pet might be at risk for diabetes, please schedule an appointment to discuss specific measures to try to prevent this lifelong disease. Prevention is always best!
For the official Pet Diabetes Month website, click here.
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