Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus), is a common condition in dogs and cats in which their ability to properly use or produce insulin is interrupted; their body stops producing insulin altogether, cannot produce the quantity necessary, or becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. This condition inhibits organs and muscles from converting sugars into energy, creating hyperglycemia – an excess of glucose in the bloodstream.
Female, obese, and elderly dogs run a much higher risk of obtaining diabetes, whereas male cats have twice the risk as female cats. While the cause of each individual pet’s case is difficult to determine, genetics and obesity are believed to be the top two risk factors.
Symptoms that may indicate diabetes:
Sudden increase in appetite, excessive hunger.
Sweet smelling breath.
Undiagnosed diabetics may develop ketoacidosis, a crisis that will cause severe dehydration, vomiting, weakness, possibly labored breathing and collapse. This is an emergency condition.
Treatment for diabetes
If we suspect that a patient may have diabetes, we check their blood sugar as well as a full blood count, chemical profile, and urinalysis. Once a positive diagnosis is made, our veterinarian will discuss a custom treatment plan with you. Disease management differs for every pet depending upon their current health status and activity level. In general dogs and cats do not respond well to oral medications or diet change only.
In most cases we recommend insulin injections administered at home along with a strict diabetic diet. We will instruct you about correct dosage and timing, and coach you on administering insulin. Diabetic pets perform best with regularly scheduled meals, and insulin given at the same time every day. Newly diagnosed diabetics are closely monitored initially until their blood sugar levels are stable. Although the course of diabetes can be rather unpredictable, many diabetic animals can remain stable for many years, and cats can sometimes go into remission.
Please contact our veterinary office if you suspect that your pet might be suffering from diabetes.