Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Understanding Diabetes in Pets

Pets can be diabetic just like people can, and like people, they can still enjoy long, happy lives despite the disease. In recognition of Pet Diabetes Month, we want to show you that a diabetes diagnosis is not the end of the line for your companion. Read on for valuable information to help you detect early signs of diabetes in your pet so they can receive timely and effective treatment. 


What Causes Diabetes?

One of the pancreas’s main functions is the production of insulin, a hormone in charge of controlling your pet’s glucose (blood sugar) levels. Glucose is a very important source of energy for your pet, and if they lack sufficient insulin to transfer the glucose from their blood to their cells or their body is simply unable to use the insulin properly, the glucose will build up in their blood very quickly. This results in a condition known as hyperglycemia.

Obesity puts pets at a much higher risk of developing diabetes, and female dogs are twice as likely to become diabetic when compared with males. Keeping your pet healthy and active from day one can help to prevent obesity and therefore, prevent diabetes. 

Common Signs

To detect signs of diabetes in your pet, look for:

· Abnormally high water intake and more frequent urination

· Noticeable weight loss despite an increase in appetite

· A decrease in appetite

· Chronic urinary or skin infections

· Weakness in the hind legs

Diagnosing Diabetes

Even if your pet is showing all of the telltale signs of diabetes, they need to see their veterinarian for a formal diagnosis. To diagnose, we need to perform blood and urine tests to check their glucose levels. Additionally, we may suggest other testing to make absolutely sure that there is no other condition responsible for your pet’s symptoms. 

Treatment Options


Following a positive diagnosis, we can recommend the type and dosage of insulin that your pet will need to maintain healthy glucose levels. This varies from one pet to another, but it is essential to follow your veterinarian’s instructions to avoid under- or overdosing. Insulin is given via injection through a small needle; there are no oral medication options. However, insulin injections are usually virtually painless for pets and can be given with little difficulty. We would be happy to demonstrate how to give injections so you can do them at home with ease. Keep in mind that as your pet’s treatment progresses, we may need to adjust their insulin dosage.


In addition to insulin, diet is also extremely important in diabetes treatment. Cats generally need a protein-rich, low-carbohydrate diet while dogs should have a high-fiber diet to maintain normal glucose levels. Straying from this diet or changing your pet’s feeding schedule can disrupt their treatment, so be sure to stick to what your veterinarian has recommended. If you have any concerns about their diet, contact your veterinarian first before making any changes.


Daily activity also makes diabetes more manageable for pets. This may be a challenge if you have a cat, but we encourage you to try playing with your feline family member whenever possible to keep them in shape.

A Normal Life is Possible for Your Pet

Helping your pet maintain normal glucose levels gives them the chance to enjoy a better quality of life and spend more time with you. A veterinarian-prescribed diet, daily exercise, routine insulin injections, and regular exams and glucose checkups are the key to successful diabetes management. Please contact us at (412) 882-3070 if you have any questions or need to schedule a checkup for your pet. We’re glad to be here for you!

Source: The American Veterinary Medical Association