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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Living with a Pet with Diabetes

2020-11-05

Did you know that November is Pet Diabetes Month? Diabetes isn’t just a disease that affects humans. It affects pets, too. This disease can be quite frightening for pet parents, especially if their pet is newly diagnosed, but we want you to know that diabetic pets can live long, healthy, happy lives with proper care. Understanding this disease along with its treatment and the warning signs of an emergency can make your pet’s diagnosis more manageable.

What Exactly is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when a pet’s body cannot produce insulin. The result of an insulin deficiency leads to too much glucose in the bloodstream. The body uses insulin to convert glucose (or sugar) into energy. When there isn’t enough insulin, the sugars build up, unused and the body doesn’t receive the necessary energy to function properly.

This can lead to energy depletion needed to fuel organs and other parts of the body. When starved for glucose, the body will then begin to attempt to survive by using other proteins and fat, causing significant damage to the body. Furthermore, high glucose levels can damage organs like the heart, eyes, and kidneys.

What Causes Diabetes in Pets?

Diabetes occurs when a pet’s pancreas isn’t functioning properly and releasing insulin as it should. Another way a pet can develop diabetes is if their body is insulin-resistant. This occurs when the pancreas functions correctly, but the body isn’t using the insulin to convert glucose to energy.

How Can You Help Your Diabetic Pet Live a Long, Happy Life?

The first way to improve your pet’s health is to seek out help from a veterinary professional--like us! Second, your pet will need a special diet, daily exercise, and often daily insulin injections. Remember, your goal is to keep your pet’s blood sugar levels stable and at a healthy level.

When your pet is first diagnosed, keep in mind that not all pets are the same. Your pet’s body may respond better to some diets, medications, and activities.

What Does Life Look Life with a Diabetic Dog?

Diabetic dogs need daily exercise. The amount of exercise depends on your dog’s health, size, age, and breed.

A high-fiber diet often works well for diabetic dogs.

Dogs can experience intermittent diabetes or changes in blood sugar related to their heat cycle, so having a female dog spayed is recommended.

What Does Life Look Like for a Diabetic Cat?

Like dogs, diabetic cats also benefit from daily exercise. If you need help getting your kitty up and off her bottom, we can come up with a collaborative plan. Catnip and new toys can do wonders for older cats.

A high-protein, low-carb diet can help a diabetic cat

No matter the pet species or breed, scheduled feedings and maintaining proper insulin levels are key to a healthy life. As your pet ages and changes, we will work with you to keep your pet healthy for years to come.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

Diabetic pets can suffer from an insulin overdose that causes hypoglycemia. If this occurs, it is an emergency and requires an immediate veterinary appointment.

Watch for signs of hypoglycemia like vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, depression, shaking, uncontrolled urination, and fatigue. If you notice any of these signs, you will want to come in ASAP. Give us a call on the way, and we will be ready for your arrival.

November is Pet Diabetes Month

If you are worried your pet may be diabetic or you need help handling your pet’s diabetes, we can help. Keeping your pet healthy and happy is our priority. Schedule an appointment to see us today.

 

Image credit: Dennis Perreault | Pexels