In humans, diabetes is characterized by a high level of glucose in the blood. In such animals as dogs and cats, the condition is the same.
Glucose is a sugar that the cells in the body use for energy. The level of glucose in the blood and its absorption by cells are regulated by a hormone called insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. If there isn’t enough insulin, or if the cells can’t use it effectively, then glucose levels in the blood increase, resulting in diabetes.
Know the Signs
According to the experts at WebVet, diabetes often begins in middle age. In dogs, it is more common in females and in certain breeds, including the keeshond, puli, miniature pinscher, and Cairn terrier. Male and female cats of all breeds can be affected and seem to be equally at risk. Signs of the disease develop gradually and often include the following:
- Drinking a lot of water
- Urinating more often than usual
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
- Sores and skin infections, as diabetes hinders the body’s ability to heal
But if you notice these symptoms in your pet, don’t jump to conclusions. Diabetes is diagnosed by measuring increased levels of glucose in the blood. If the level of glucose in the blood is high enough, it will be apparent in urine, too.
Get the Treatment
Very mild cases of diabetes can sometimes by managed by diet, exercise, and weight loss. In most cases, however, insulin injections are needed to keep the level of blood glucose in the normal range. Your pet may need to stay in the veterinary hospital for a few days until its condition is stabilized and your veterinarian can determine an appropriate initial dosage of insulin. Treatment can then be continued at home. Your vet will teach you how to give the insulin injections using small syringes and very tiny needles. Once pets become used to the daily routine, they usually don’t mind the shots.
Keep Your Pet’s Diabetes in Check
Once you establish a routine and your pet is used to it, checking a urine glucose level, keeping meals and exercise consistent, and administering insulin (if needed) takes very little time. Fortunately, with proper management, pets with diabetes can live healthy lives for many years.
Reprinted with permission from WebVet, LLC. This article and other great information for pet owners can be found at www.webvet.com.
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