Diabetes can refer to two unrelated conditions in veterinary medicine : Diabetes Mellitus (sugar diabetes), and the less common Diabetes Insipidus (water diabetes). As diabetes insipidus is a much rarer condition with a completely different cause and treatment, this article focuses on the prevalent type of diabetes: diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes happens because the body stops making or responding to insulin – a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood. As well as difficulties caused by an inability to turn sugar into energy the body can use, high sugar levels in the blood result in sugar (and lots of water) being passed out in the urine.
Insulin affects the way your pet’s body uses food. When they eat, food is broken down into very small components that the body can use. One component, carbohydrate, is converted in several types of sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood. Once in the bloodstream, glucose travels to cells where it can be absorbed and used as a sorce of energy – if insulin is present. Without enough insulin, glucose can’t enter cells and bulids up in the bloodstream . So they may act hungry all the time and eat constantly, but still be malnourished because their cells can’t absorb the glucose. Like all illnesses, the earlier the problem is diagnosed and treated the better, unfortunatley, your pet can’t tell you how they are feeling.
Below is a checklist of signs of diabetes to look out for in dogs and cats, if your pet exhibits these signs, book in with one of our vets.
- URINATES FREQUENTLY : Your dog or cat wants to go outside more often. Your dog may urinate in the house, your cat may urinate outside of their litterbox.
- DRINKS A LOT OF WATER: You have to fill the water bowl more often than before, or notice your dog or cat drinking from unusal places, such as the toilet.
- IS ALWAYS HUNGRY: Your dog or cat never seems to get enough food – they are always begging for food.
- HAS LOST WEIGHT: Although your dog or cat has a good appetite, they keep losing weight.
- EYES APPEAR CLOUDY: This sign is only present in dogs.
- COAT HAS DETERIORATED: Your dog or your cat has stopped grooming and the fur becomes dry or dull.
- SLEEPS MORE OR IS LESS ACTIVE: Your dog or cat used to be energetic, but now they sleep all day.
How is diabetes diagnosed?
If a blood test shows elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine, as well as the pet displaying the symptoms above, it’s usually a fairly clear sign that the pet has diabetes. But increased glucose can sometimes happen due to stress, so if there’s any doubt a test for fructosamine levels may be carried out to test the average blood glucose level over a number of weeks.
What medication will be needed to contol diabetes?
Following diagnosis, an insulin type and dose will need to be decided by the vet, but it may take time to establish the correct dose.
Most pets require injections twice a day, about 12 hours apart, after a meal. It’s really important that you stick to a routine and give injections at the same time each day and feed your pet the correct type and amount of food each meal as advised by your vet.
The vet/nurse will show you how to give insulin injections. It is very important to follow their instructions precisely to make sure your pet’s insulin levels are regulated.
Many pet owners are understandably concerned about giving injections, but soon get the hang of it.