One of the more common questions we receive from our clients is why their dog or cat has been drinking more water and urinating more frequently than normal. These signs can be indicators of diabetes, which is a common disease we see in older pets.
Diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, occurs when a pet cannot utilize glucose (sugar) normally. Glucose is the primary source of energy for cells in the body, and it is regulated by the pancreas via a hormone called insulin. When a pet eats, sugars are absorbed by cells in the intestines and transformed into simple sugars, including glucose. For these simple sugars to be converted from the bloodstream into the cells, insulin is required. If a pet does not have enough insulin or their body is unable to process it, high levels of glucose start to accumulate in the blood – a condition known as hyperglycemia. When the blood glucose hits a certain point, it overflows into the pet’s urine and pulls large amounts of water it. This is why an increase in water consumption and urination is seen in diabetic pets. In addition, diabetic pets do not have enough glucose transported into the body’s cells. This means there is not enough energy for the cells to function normally, so the body starts to breakdown fat and muscle tissue. This leads to the weight loss often seen in diabetic dogs and cats. Other symptoms to monitor your pet for are: decreased appetite, cloudy eyes, and chronic/recurring infections (specifically skin or urinary tract). If any of these occur, please schedule an appointment for your furry family member to be examined by their regular veterinarian at Blum.
Diabetes can happen to any pet despite their age. Dogs are usually diagnosed around 7-10 year of age and this disease occurs much more commonly in females. Most cats are diagnosed when they are over 6 years of age. Certain dog breeds and pets who are obese are also at a more significant risk of developing diabetes. After the diabetes diagnosis has been confirmed by your veterinarian, an initial dose of insulin will be prescribed for your pet. The insulin will need to be given as an injection underneath their skin and dietary changes will be discussed in order to help control the disease. Regular follow up exams and recheck bloodwork will be necessary in order to ensure your pet stays on the appropriate dose of insulin.
It is very important for you to maintain a strict schedule to when your furry family member receives insulin and is fed. Making sure your pet is eating while receiving insulin therapy is essential. Please contact Blum immediately if your pet experiences weakness, tremors, seizures, or loss of appetite since this is an emergency for diabetic patients.
With early detection and proper monitoring, treatment and diet, diabetes can be a manageable disease. If you have any further questions or concerns about diabetes, please contact us at: (773) 327-4446.
Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.