November is Pet Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a disease affecting the body’s ability to process glucose (the sugar that fuels the body’s cells). In diabetic patients, the pancreas ceases to produce a hormone called insulin. After a meal, a cat or dog’s bloodstream transports glucose to the cells. Without natural insulin to assist in transporting glucose, the patient can become quite ill. Outward signs include increased water drinking, increased urine production, dramatic weight loss, changes in appetite, and cloudy vision.
Can Any Pet Get Diabetes?
Although diabetes can occur at any age, older, overweight pets are the most at risk for developing the disease. A timely diagnosis and effective management are the keys to success for diabetic patients.
How is Diabetes Diagnosed?
As with any internal condition, diabetes must be diagnosed with bloodwork. Blood work will allow the doctor to see the blood sugar levels.
What Happens if My Pet is Diagnosed with Diabetes?
Once diagnosed, the patient will begin taking subcutaneous (under the skin) insulin injections every 12 hours with meals. It is imperative that a patient stays on a strict insulin schedule and is given a precise dose. Overdosing could be very dangerous for the patient.
Will My Pet Need a Special Diet?
A patient will also need to transition to a low-carbohydrate diet. Many of our patients are on Hill’s Prescription W/D diet. Owners must be very strict with the patients’ treat intake. Treats could be too high in carbohydrates and giving food outside of mealtime can also be detrimental to a patient’s glucose regulation.
Our hospital monitors a patient closely during the first few weeks of treatment to ensure the best results.
One day a week, a patient will be hospitalized. During the hospitalization, the patient will have several glucose checks performed. The first check upon admittance is to determine the blood sugar level 12 hours post-injection. We have the patient fasted for the initial test. We then give the patient an insulin injection while they eat their first meal of the day.
The veterinary assistants will perform blood sugar screenings throughout the day. The levels recorded from the screenings allow the doctor to determine if the patient is receiving the proper amount of insulin to regulate their blood sugar. The idea is to have a patient feeling good between injections, not just receiving immediate relief and then crashing during the day.
How Often Will I Need to Bring My Pet to the Hospital?
Most well-regulated patients visit every two months. Some well-managed cats may even go into remission and no longer need insulin.
Diabetes can be deadly if left untreated. It requires a medical diagnosis, many veterinary trips, and close-at-home observation. However, once regulated, patients live happy, healthy lives. Please call our clinic today if you have any questions on diabetes or if you feel your patient may have diabetes.
Dr. Janelle McFarland
Wags & Whiskers