Did you know that your dog or cat could get diabetes? They can and it’s more common than you think. Recent reports show that 1 in 300 dogs is likely to get diabetes and 1 in 230 cats and those statistics keep going up.
Turns out, that in many cases, pet diabetes is preventable with a healthy diet and exercise. Also, if your pet does have diabetes, you can learn to manage it with help from your veterinarian. But first, what IS pet diabetes?
What Is Pet Diabetes?
Diabetes in pets occurs when your dog or cat has insulin problems. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body regulate its glucose (sugar) production and maintain healthy energy levels. When your pet’s body no longer produces insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or develops a resistance (Type 2 diabetes), then the cells can’t get the glucose they need.
It’s most common in older animals but is sometimes seen in pregnant dogs and cats too.
What Causes Pet Diabetes?
A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet lead to obesity and this is a primary cause of diabetes. However, it’s also hereditary in certain breeds, including Labradors, dachshunds, and Siamese cats. Medical difficulties can also lead to diabetes like Cushing’s disease and pancreatitis.
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of pet diabetes are vague enough that you’ll need to have your pet tested to see if they have it or not. But the following are reasons to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
- excessive thirst
- a big appetite
- weight loss
If your pet exhibits any of these, it’s time to schedule an appointment. If your pet is sick, early detection is always preferable. Many illnesses including pet diabetes are manageable if caught early. Your veterinarian will help you with a treatment plan that includes insulin therapy,
What Role Does Diet Play?
Every pet’s good health relies on a healthy diet and exercise and a holistic veterinarian can help you with a suitable diet and exercise plan for your dog or cat. They may recommend a prescription diet or grain-free food and smaller meals. Some pets do well with herbal therapies.
One thing is for sure, you’ll need to overhaul your pet’s diet and likely replace high fat treats with healthier options. One way you can replace edible treats is to replace the activity of eating with an activity of chewing or playing. For example, play fetch with your dog with a ball or kong.
Pet diabetes is not a curable disease and left untreated it can lead to pancreatitis, kidney problems, and other life-threatening health problems.
How Can You Prevent It?
For many pets, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise will go a long way towards diabetes prevention. However, it’s not always preventable. Veterinarians recommend regular checkups, keeping your pets active, spaying female dogs and not overfeeding.
There you are, this pet diabetes month, ask yourself if your pet might benefit from an increase in exercise and decrease in calories. Other ways you can keep your pet happy and healthy include keeping up with your flea and tick treatments!