You might have heard the word, diabetes, but what does that mean for our pets?
Let’s start with the basics, what is diabetes? After a meal is digested, sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Usually, this sugar goes into all different types of cells throughout the body via insulin. The cells then use the sugar as a form of energy to help the body function properly. Diabetes is when there is a large amount of sugar circulating in the blood and either there is not enough insulin being produced or the receptors for the insulin are resistant. Thus the sugar in the bloodstream is unable to enter cells. With high amounts of sugar in the bloodstream, the kidneys then filter the blood and consequently, sugar spills over into the urine.
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1: Lack of insulin produced by beta cells of the pancreas. This is the most common form of diabetes for dogs and children.
Type 2: Impaired insulin secretion and/or peripheral insulin resistance. This is the most common form of diabetes for cats and adults.
What are the most common symptoms I will see in my dog and cat? In both cats and dogs-drinking more, urinating more, weight loss with a voracious appetite and lethargy. Dogs can also develop cataracts in the eyes. Cats can walk in plantigrade stance (walking on the whole sole (hock/heel) like a bear).
How is diabetes diagnosed? Minimum diagnostics include blood sugar levels and a urinalysis to look for sugar in the urine. Because there is sugar in the urine, this creates an excellent environment for bacteria to grow and for urinary tract infections (UTI) to develop; therefore, we also look for bacteria and white blood cells in the urine (suggesting a UTI). Your veterinarian may run more bloodwork to look at liver and kidney values.
What if my pet has diabetes, is it treatable? Diabetes can be treated with a combination of insulin and a specific veterinary prescribed diet (low in fat, high in fibre and complex carbohydrates). Your veterinarian will go through this with you in more detail. The key with insulin therapy is consistent monitoring of blood sugar to make sure we minimize spikes. With a proper diet and insulin therapy, some cats do go into remission. This is another reason why proper monitoring of blood sugar is important.
Diabetes is a treatable disease, and with the help of the staff at Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital, we can help monitor and care for your diabetic pet.
Written By: Dr. Katie Graves