Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas.  The pancreas has 2 types of cells.  The beta cells are responsible for producing insulin. Unfortunately, in diabetes, the beta cells have gradually been destroyed meaning that insulin is no longer produced.  With a lack of insulin in the body, glucose in the blood stream is no longer able to enter the body’s cells. Cells of the body need glucose for energy and to function and support life.

Signs of diabetes in your pet include: weight loss, ravenous appetite, increased thirst and increased urination.

If you see any of these signs in your pet, you should make an appointment for your pet to have a check up at the surgery.  If at all possible bring a urine sample with you at the same time.  Diabetes is usually suspected if a urine sample has glucose present and we will take a blood sample for confirmation.

Treatment for diabetes in animals involves giving injections of insulin usually on a twice daily basis. The most important thing you need to decide you can do before starting treatment in your  diabetic pet, is to be able to commit to and be able to afford to give twice daily injections at the same time every day for the rest of your pets’ life.   For some owners this is not possible due to work/family commitments etc. and sadly in these cases difficult decisions have to be made for the welfare of the pet.

Owners often ask if it is possible to manage diabetes in dogs by oral medication as in some people with diabetes  or by dietary adjustment alone. Unfortunately this is not the case as people can have different types  of diabetes, whereas our pets only get Type 1.  In some obese cats, dietary adjustment can help, but these cases still often go on to develop insulin dependent diabetes.

Whilst the thought of injecting your pet may initially seem daunting, the majority of owners and pets learn to adapt and cope very well and the prognosis in a well controlled diabetic pet is excellent.

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