The month of November is here and many of us have the holidays on our minds! While we begin to prepare for the upcoming festivities, pet parents may need to put their plans on hold and take some time to educate themselves on a rising concern – pet diabetes. While diabetes affects over 30 million children and adults, it can also be a problem for our furry friends. November marks National Diabetes Month, which focuses on the awareness of the endocrine disease found in humans. However, it is becoming increasingly prevalent in animals, and November is also National Pet Diabetes Month!
Just how common is pet diabetes? According to Merck Animal Health, 1 in 200 cats and 1 in 500 dogs can have the disease. Certain breeds are more susceptible to the condition such as Burmese cats, Toy Poodles, Samoyeds and Schnauzers just to name a few. But, regardless of breed or species, both types of pets can be at risk and the rate of diabetes among animals is on the rise.
Basics of Diabetes
In a nutshell, there are two forms of diabetes mellitus in pets, type 1 DM and type 2 DM. Both types of diabetes result in problems concerning the production or usage of insulin. Insulin is produced naturally in the pancreas and its job is to move sugars/glucose into cells, which then convert and metabolize the glucose for energy. However, when an animal (or person) has diabetes, the process is different and makes it challenging to provide the cells with energy/nutrients.
- Type 1 DM: your pets' body is not producing any or enough insulin
- Type 2 DM: you pets' body has sufficient insulin production but the cells are not receiving the nutrients properly
In both forms, the cells are being starved for nutrients and blood sugar levels are erratic since the glucose is not doing what it is supposed to do. If the condition is untreated, it can be fatal! Type 2 DM is the more common of the two forms, but both can be managed with proper care.
Signs & Symptoms
Determining if your pet has diabetes can be a little difficult to do, but in most cases, it's developed in the later years of their life. For cats, it's anywhere between the ages of 8 to 13 years old and for dogs, it's between the ages of 7 to 9 years old. Some signs and symptoms of pet diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst, hunger and urination
- Lethargy, weakness and lack of energy
- Blindness or visible increase in whiteness in the lens of the eye
- Poor skin conditions like dandruff or oily coat
- Sudden weight loss
If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, it's advised to immediately take them to the veterinarian for a checkup as they could have diabetes. Your vet will be able to propose a treatment and care plan to help you manage their condition. It may consist of cat or dog medications, daily insulin injections, special diet restrictions and an exercise plan.
There is a significant risk for the development of pet diabetes if your cat or dog is overweight or obese. So, pet parents need to keep a watchful eye on how much they are eating and how much exercise their pets are getting. For the rest of November, keep this information about National Pet Diabetes Month in mind and share it with other pet parents – they'll be thankful you did!