We usually think of diabetes as a human condition, but it is increasingly being diagnosed in family pets. Since November is National Diabetes Month, it makes sense to look into this potentially life-threatening disease, and discuss some ways to recognize and treat it. And remember, when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your pets, only the best care will do. Take them to a well-respected veterinarian in Egg Harbor Township, NJ for regular checkups, and if you think they may be exhibiting signs of diabetes.
What is diabetes mellitus?
There are two types of diabetes mellitus (DM) found in pets: Type I DM and Type II DM. Type I tends to be found in dogs, while Type II is usually found in cats. In either case, DM occurs because your pet’s body either does not have sufficient insulin, or is not able to process it effectively, meaning it cannot get sugar (known as glucose) into their cells. This means that the cells starve, and the body gets a signal to create more insulin to help out. Eventually, there is far too much sugar in the body, but it isn’t getting to the right destination: the cells.
What’s going on inside?
Some common symptoms of DM, such as excessive thirst and inappropriate or frequent urination, are due to the fact that so much extra sugar is being produced in the body, with nowhere for it to go. To make matters worse, untreated DM can lead to a complication called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): the body breaks down fat as a last-ditch effort to get nutrients to the starving cells. This, unfortunately, is not a good solution, and can lead to unpleasant side effects such as lack of appetite, vomiting, excess acid in the body and abnormalities in electrolyte levels. DKA can lead to death in pets, and requires 24/7, intensive care to treat.
What can you do?
The most important thing you can do for your beloved animal friend is keep a close watch on them, and take them to your family veterinarian in Egg Harbor Township, NJ right away if they start to exhibit any unusual behaviors, such as excessive thirst or hunger, lethargy, flaky or dry skin or unwanted urination. Wait too long, and your pet may be far sicker than they would have been if they’d been brought in earlier, and the bill for an emergency visit could be quite costly.
Treatments vary for dogs and cats, as far as what type of insulin is generally used. While oral medications can be effective in humans, they are not recommended for pets. Instead, twice-daily injections of insulin are the standard protocol. Cats may be switched to a low-carb, high-protein diet. For both cats and dogs, regular bloodwork and monitoring are required.
The good news is that, if caught early enough, many pets are able to survive diabetes and continue living happy lives, with regular monitoring and treatment. To learn more, get in touch with Newkirk Family Veterinarians today.