Pets are prone to getting many of the same diseases as their human caretakers. This includes age-related diseases like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. There was a time when these diseases were the kiss of death our beloved pets, but thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, it's now possible to manage or treat these diseases so that your dog or cat can live long and enjoyable lives.
Today we're going to focus on diabetes, and the best way to treat your dog or cat if it is diagnosed as having diabetes.
Diabetes in Animals
Diabetes in animals is pretty much the same as diabetes in humans. The body either does not make enough insulin, or does not respond to the insulin it does make, and therefore the bady can't use the sugar in the blood for energy.
Dogs and cats exhibit very similar symptoms to humans including the big three:
---Excessive thirst; and,
In animals, these symptoms might exhibit themseves as:
---Overeating, eating too fast, or needing to eat more often;
---Drinking more often than usual, or drinking higher quantities; and,
---Needing to be walked more often, using the litter box more often, an increase in liquid waste, and inappropriate urination.
Like their human counterparts, pets might also exhibit lethargy or fatigue, rapid weight loss, skin infections, and poor wound healing. They might also experience vomiting, urinary tract infections, and sweet or fruity-smelling breath.
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
Diagnosing and Treating Diabetes in Animals
Diabetes is diagnosed through a blood test to measure the levels of sugar in the blood. If it is above 150 mg/dl in dogs, or over 170 mg/dl in cats, that is a sign that your pet could have diabetes. However, because other things can also cause elevated blood sugar, the vet might also test the urine for sugar to confirm the diagnosis. Your veterinarian might also conduct other tests to confirm or rule out any other diseases that might be contributing to your pet’s condition.
Once your pet is diagnosed, you need to begin treatment as soon as possible to prevent any possible complications from the diabetes. Just like in humans, untreated diabetes can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure, nerve damage, and death.
The standard treatment for diabetes in animals in insulin injections once or more per day, coupled with regular blood glucose readings to ensure that your are administering the proper amount. Your veterinarian will help you determine the range of the insulin dose, as well as how often to test blood sugar and administer the insulin. Your veterinarian might also require you to come back to the office several times over a period of months to evaluate your pet and ensure that the treatment is working.
You can buy insulin for dogs and cats from an online pet pharmacy or from a regular pharmacy that also handles pet prescriptions. Your vet might also keep insulin in stock for starter doses, or for regular daily dosing.
Caring for a pet with diabetes can be challenging, however not for the reasons you might think. For many, the thought of taking regular blood sugar readings and injecting insulin is frightening. In truth, that part of the process is fairly simple once you learn how to do it and develop a system that works for you and your pet.
The hard part is organizing and scheduling the daily reads and injections. Insulin should be administered at fairly regular intervals, and you need to monitor your pet after the injection so you can make sure it’s not having a bad reaction. You also need to make sure your pet is eating properly. Additionally, if you travel, you will need to either take your pet with you, or find someone who can take care of your pet or board it at a veterinary facility that is equipped to treat a pet with diabetes in your absence.
Having a pet with diabetes requires a committed and dedicated owner who is willing to take the time to follow the treatment plan.
As the treatment program progresses, you should notice improvements in your pet’s condition. Many of the symptoms should reduce or disappear completely; and you might even notice weight gain and renewed energy.
If you don’t notice any improvements after the initial three months, consult your veterinarian for further testing.
The Cost of Diabetes
Diabetes is not the cheapest disease to treat, but it’s also not the most expensive. The monthly cost for diabetes treatment could be as low as $40 or as high as $100 depending on the type of insulin you use, as well as what type of glucose monitor and test strips you use. However, many of your supplies, such as test strips, syringes, and needles, can last several months, so you don’t need to spend money every month.
Visits to the vet are another expense; however how much you spend depends on how often you go and what services you require. Chances are, you will spend the most in the first few months, but once your pet’s condition is under control, the cost of care will drop because you will have a stockpile of supplies and you won’t be going to the vet every month.
Preventing Diabetes in Your Pets
There are several factors that can contribute to diabetes in animals, and most of them are not preventable. For example, autoimmune disease, chronic pancreatitis, and genetics are all cited as contributing factors in dogs. Adrenal gland disease, chronic pancreatitis, and pancreatic amyloidosis are all cited as contributing factors in cats. Age is also a factor, as the disease often affects older pets. Obesity could have some bearing on whether or not your pet develops diabetes, but even pets of healthy weights have been known to develop the disease.
The best way that you can protect your pet is with regular checkups at the vet, so that he can conduct regular physical examinations and tests to screen for common diseases, including diabetes. You can also get some support by finding a good diabetes support groups.
If you think your pet has diabetes, don't be too alarmed. The most important thing is to get your pet properly diagnosed and on a manageable treatment program as soon as you can. That way, you and your pet can have a long and happy life together.