Veterinary Spotlight: Do you know the signs of pet diabetes?

National Pet Diabetes Month

Research shows 1 in 100 dogs and 1 in 500 cats develop diabetes during their lives, a rate which continues to increase every year.  November marks Pet Diabetes Month, a national awareness movement targeted at pet owners to make them more aware of the growing prevalence of diabetes in pets.

Diabetes mellitus, when the body cannot produce enough or respond to insulin in order to properly use fats, sugars, and proteins leads to high glucose levels in the bloodstream that can cause kidney, bladder, skin, and liver infections and even lead to comas or death.

Romeo 29861939 Juliet 29861954(2)Who Develops Diabetes?

Diabetes is most common in middle age to senior dogs and cats, and particularly in male cats and unspayed female dogs.  However, diabetes can occur in young pets and any gender.  Other risk factors leading to the disease include physical inactivity, obesity, genetic tendencies, and other insulin disorders.  Furthermore, certain drugs used to treat other illnesses may interfere with insulin levels and cause diabetes.

Pet diabetes is also prevalent in certain breeds such as Siamese cats and in dog breeds including, Dachshunds, Beagles, Retrievers, Terriers, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and German Shepherds, but the disease may occur in any breed.

Diagnosing Pet Diabetes

cat-dog-drinkingKnowing the signs of pet diabetes can lead to immediate treatment and prevent further illness.  All pet owners should be aware of the following symptoms, which may indicate diabetes:

  • Excessive urination, possibly causing accidents in the house
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased hunger, but loses or maintains weight
  • Lethargy and increased sleeping
  • Skin conditions like dandruff
  • Hair issues such as increasingly dry or greasy fur, and thinning and dull hair

Other contributing signs or side effects may also include muscle or nerve dysfunction leading to an abnormal walk and cataract formation, in which the eye’s lens becomes clouded, eventually causing blindness.

If your pet or pets show any of these symptoms, make a diabetes testing appointment at SPCA Florida, (863) 646-7722 or email [email protected]. Our trained veterinary staff will test the dog or cat’s urine and blood for glucose and ketones. 

Dogs and cats may either have uncomplicated diabetes or diabetes with ketoacidosis, meaning the diabetes is accompanied by extreme illness, including vomiting, depression and eating disorders.  Diabetes with ketoacidosis is treated with intravenous fluids and rapid acting insulin until the pet is eating properly.  Afterwards it is treated the same as uncomplicated diabetes.

Treating Diabetes

After your pet is diagnosed, you will begin treatment by administering insulin injection every day.  The amount and duration of injections will depend on your pet’s specific needs.

Although the disease can be life long, pets can live normal, happy lives as long as they receive treatment.  Talk to one our SPCA Florida veterinarians to find out more about pet diabetes. Help other pet owners by sharing this article to spread awareness about pet diabetes.