DIAGNOSIS AND MANAGEMENT OF PET DIABETES

How will my vet test my pet for diabetes?

Your vet may begin by performing a general health examination and asking questions about any signs your pet may be displaying. Then, a sample of your pet’s urine will be tested for the presence of glucose or ketones (acids produced by the body as it breaks down fat instead of glucose for energy). If glucose is present in your pet’s urine, your veterinary practitioner will then test your pet’s blood to determine the blood glucose level. A diabetes diagnosis is considered definite when persistently high glucose levels are found in both the blood and urine.

How do I take care of a pet with diabetes?

Although there is no cure for diabetes, the disease can be successfully managed with the help of your vet. Daily insulin injections are usually required to restore your pet’s insulin level and control their blood glucose levels. Many owners are anxious about giving injections, but it’s easier than you think; and you’ll quickly learn how to handle the dosing routine with little stress for you or your pet.

Diet plays a vital role in helping to keep your pet’s diabetes regulated. Your veterinary practitioner can recommend a diet that’s best suited to the needs of your pet. A high-quality, consistent source of protein is an essential part of any diabetic diet. High-protein, low-carbohydrate foods are currently recommended for diabetic cats because they provide the extra energy cats need to get them through their active days, without the extra carbs that can turn into excess sugar. It is important to feed your pet based on its ideal body weight. Consistent timing and size of meals is also very important.

Exercise can help dogs with diabetes, but it needs to be regulated because activity affects blood glucose levels. It’s best to create a consistent exercise routine for your diabetic dog and stick to it. (There is no clear recommendation for exercise in diabetic cats because their activity is difficult to regulate).

Frequent veterinary check-ups can help identify changes in your pet’s condition and help you to manage this disease successfully over time. Managing your dog or cat’s diabetes will require some effort, but the rewards are well worth it. Pets whose diabetes is under control have normal thirst, appetite, urination and activity levels. Their weight is generally stable, and they are less likely to develop complications.

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IS MY DOG OR CAT AT RISK OF DIABETES?

While diabetes has been diagnosed in dogs and cats of all ages, genders and breeds, certain pets are at greater risk of the disease.

Risk factors in dogs include:

  • Age: middle-aged to older dogs are more affected
  • Neutering status: un-spayed females are at higher risk
  • Obesity: overweight pets are at higher risk
  • Breed: the following breeds have a higher risk of developing diabetes
    • Cocker Spaniels
    • Dachshunds
    • Dobermann Pinschers
    • German Shepherds
    • Golden Retrievers
    • Labrador Retrievers
    • Pomeranians
    • Terriers
    • Toy Poodles

Risk factors in cats include:

  • Age: older cats are more susceptible
  • Neutering status: neutered males are at higher risk
  • Other disorders or diseases, which can cause insulin reduction or resistance such as chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
  • Obesity: overweight pets are at higher risk
  • Physical inactivity

How can I tell if my pet has diabetes?

Some common signs of diabetes in dogs and cats include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination—your pet produces more urine per day and may have “accidents” in the house (dogs) or outside the litter box (cats)
  • Excessive hunger while losing weight
  • Lethargy (less active/sleeps more)
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs)
  • Doesn’t groom (cats)
  • Thinning, dry and dull hair

If your pet is showing any of these signs, talk to your vet about getting your pet screened for diabetes. With proper management and monitoring, a dog or cat with diabetes can lead a healthy, happy and active life. Read our blog post on diabetes diagnosis to find out what to expect if your pet does have diabetes.

 

 

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WHAT IS DIABETES?

Diabetes mellitus, the medical name for diabetes, is a disease caused by a lack of insulin that affects the level of glucose, or sugar in your dog or cat’s blood. The glucose comes from the food that your pet eats. The food is broken down into very small components by the digestive system so that the body can use it for energy. Glucose is one of these components, and an important source of energy. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream where it travels to cells throughout the body. Insulin is required for the cells to absorb glucose. Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Healthy pets produce insulin easily, but pets with diabetes don’t. In canine and feline diabetes, unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream.

Is diabetes in pets the same as in humans?

The two conditions are very similar. In fact, your veterinary practitioner will be using medication, equipment and monitoring systems that are similar to those used for diabetic people. How common is diabetes in dogs and cats? Diabetes is reported to affect anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs and cats. But experts believe that this disease is on the rise. Can diabetes lead to other health problems? Yes. Dogs and cats with diabetes can develop other health problems, usually after living with diabetes for a year or more. For dogs, the most common complication of diabetes is cataract formation. Persistently high blood glucose levels make the lens of the eye become opaque, causing blindness. For cats, weakness of the hind legs is a common complication. Persistently high blood glucose levels may damage nerves, causing weakness and muscle wasting. For both dogs and cats, avoiding high blood glucose levels should help prevent or delay these complications. For this reason, early diagnosis of diabetes in your dog or cat is especially important.

Will diabetes affect my dog or cat’s life expectancy?

Today, with effective treatment and monitoring, a diabetic dog or cat should have the same life expectancy as a non-diabetic dog or cat. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment help diabetic pets maintain a good quality of life.

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Parasites are a health risk to both pets and people

One of the largest surveys based on parasite risks has recently been conducted by MSD Animal Health.

Of the 450 cat owners, over half of those surveyed only treated their pets twice or even less than this in the last year, while 46 percent have not treated for fleas within the last three months. Perhaps even more worrying, given the potential human health risks associated with roundworms, only 19 per cent have wormed their cat four times or more in the last year, and 17 per cent don’t use a worm treatment at all.

Worrying worms

Roundworm is the most common worm to affect cats, with a recent Irish study (The prevalence of gastrointestinal and cardio-respiratory parasites in stray dogs and cats in Ireland, 2018) showing that 32 percent of stray cats were shedding eggs. As well as causing gastrointestinal and respiratory problems in cats, roundworms can affect humans too, if eggs are accidentally ingested. Children are most at risk, as they may play in areas (sandpits, gardens etc.) where worm eggs are commonly  found. The parasite can cause a variety of problems, including damage to the liver, lungs or eyes.
Blog Post Worms

Ticked off

Owners are concerned about ticks, with 27 percent of owners in the Republic of Ireland reporting that they have found a tick on their cat. More owners were very concerned (34.2 per cent) about ticks than other parasites. It’s important to remember that some of the common spot-on products available do not kill ticks, so make sure you ask your vet for a treatment that covers this key parasite risk.

Blog Post Ticks

Advances in treatment

All owners know that cats can be difficult to treat! Applying treatments every month, or giving worming tablets, can be challenging even in well behaved cats. Recent advances mean that options are now available which can make life easier for cats and their owners, including longer lasting treatments and combination products which treat many parasites in one.

Trust your vet

The survey showed that vets continue to be the preferred source of information about parasite treatment, with 72 percent of cat owners seeking advice from their vet. Disease risks constantly evolve, and your vet is best placed to give up-to-date advice about the risks for your pet. Vet practices can also offer the latest treatments, so ask your vet about how you can best protect your cat – and your family – against parasites.Blog post 3

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5 ways to make your vet visits less stressful for your cat

Most of us know the importance of regular check ups for our cat, but the thought of that trip to the vets fills some owners with dread! One of the reasons that you may be hesitant is that the experience can be stressful for both you and your cat. However, there are numerous things you can do to reduce the stress involved with a vet visit.

Take a look at these five tips below:

Regular visits

If your cat only visits the vet when he or she is sick, then the visit will have negative associations and trigger fear and anxiety. More regular visits (at least once per year) can help to ease your cats anxiety and make vet visits a breeze.

Get your cat used to its carrier

One of the most stressful parts of getting your cat to the vet can be getting them in their carrier. What looks innocent to you is very intimidating to your cat. Learn to make their travel crate a pleasant experience by keeping it in an accessible location that your cat can treat like a safety nest. This will make it easier when you do actually need to travel

Check if your vet practice has cat-only hours

There can be nothing scarier for your cat than entering the waiting room at the vet practice and being greeted by a big, noisy dog. While the dog is likely friendly and just curious, your cat doesn’t know that and the encounter can cause their anxiety to go through the roof. Check if your vet clinic offers cat-only hours which can assist with easing your cat’s stress while they wait.

Try a pheromone spray

Pheromone sprays are often used in vet practices and in homes as plug-ins. However, you can also get them in sprays, allowing you to spritz some in your cat’s carrier and on a blanket to help relax your cat

Regularly hold your cat

One of the biggest stressors for cats at the vet can be the vet handling your cat. By consistently giving them physical affection throughout their lives such as picking them up and playing with their paws, your cat’s stress can be reduced when visiting with the vet as they are used to being touched.

Vet visits are always going to be a little intimidating to both humans and animals alike, use these above tips to reduce stress and make going to the vet a little less scary.

 

 

 

 

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5 reasons to bring your cat for a vet check-up

As a pet owner you may think that you only need to bring your cat to the vet in the case of a serious illness or accident. In fact, there are many reasons you should bring your cat to the vet for regular check ups to ensure they live a long and happy life.

Cats are masters at hiding illness

One of the main reasons that you should bring your cat to the vet for regular check-ups is that their symptoms can be very hard to spot as cats instinctively hide pain and illness to protect themselves. By taking your cat for a vet examination they can help to catch problems before they progress and/or become more difficult to treat.

Regular visits will make the trip to the vet less stressful

If your cat only visits the vet when he or she is sick, then the visit will have negative associations and trigger fear and anxiety. More regular visits (at least once per year) can help to ease your cats anxiety and make vet visits a breeze.

Dental disease is very common

Unless you’re brushing your cat’s teeth every day (well done if you are!), plaque and tartar build up is inevitable. This can lead to dental disease, and chronic infections in the mouth cause bad breath, pain, gum disease, tooth loss and can also trigger disease elsewhere in the body. Regular check ups can help to spot the signs and allow preventative actions to be taken.

Preventative care is better than reactive care

In addition to other health issues that can be detected, annual health visits ensure your cat’s vaccines and parasite control are appropriate to the lifestyle of your pet and significant infectious and parasitic health risks that your pet and family are likely to face are avoided.

Cats age more quickly than us 

Sadly, cats have a far shorter life span than their owners and age more rapidly. In one calendar year, a cat may age the equivalent of five to fifteen years in a human’s life, which is why an annual health visit is so important.

How often should my pet have a health assessment?

This depends on the pet’s age and current health status. For adult cats, health assessments should be undertaken at least once a year. For rapidly growing kittens and for the older pet, every 6 months or more may be advisable.

Regular check ups when your cat seems well are just as important as when they are sick or injured and your vet is committed to your pet’s wellbeing every step of the way. Taking the steps to ensure your pet stays in good health is a vital part of caring for the pet you love. The best way to keep your pet on top form is with your vet’s support and advice, so make sure you schedule a check-up with your practice now.

Check out our blog post about making the vet visit a easier and less stressful for you and your cat- https://wp.me/p6wKsY-49

 

 

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What’s what with worms

Worried about worms? Learn the difference between the different worms that can affect your pet.

WORMS

There are a number of different worms which can infest dogs and cats, including roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. Although they may not be visible, our pets are commonly infected with worms.

ROUNDWORMS

Toxocara spp. & Toxacaris leonina

This is most common type of worm to affect dogs and cats. Studies show that up to 30% of dogs and 70% of puppies are infested with Toxocara canis1,2 and a recent Irish study showed that 32% of cats were infested with Toxocara cati3.

Pets can become infected in a number of ways: by eating soil contaminated with eggs, by hunting and by eating rodents.Puppies and kittens can be infected from their mother’s milk.

DID YOU KNOW?

Roundworms can lay up to 200,000 eggs per day!

Infection does not usually cause symptoms in adult dogs and cats, but can cause serious disease in puppies and kittens, including weight loss, diarrhoea and respiratory problems.

Human risk:

Toxocara spp. worms (AKA roundworms) can affect humans if eggs are accidentally ingested. Children are most at risk, as they may play in areas such as sandpits and gardens where worm eggs are commonly found. The parasite can cause a variety of problems, including damage to the liver, lungs or eyes.

Regular treatment will help to protect your pet and this will help to protect your family too.

 Kids in Sandbox

HOOKWORMS

Ancylostoma tubaeformeA. BrazilienseUncinaria stenocephala

Hookworms are relatively uncommon in pet dogs and cats in Ireland.

Infection can occur through eating larvae from the environment. The adult worms in the intestine feed off blood and some blood may pass in the faeces which typically turns faeces a blackish colour.

 TAPEWORMS

Tapeworms are less common than roundworms, and do not usually cause symptoms. The two main types of tapeworm found in pets in Ireland are Dipylidium caninum (flea tapeworm) and Taenia species.

Dipylidium caninum (flea tapeworm)

Pets become infested by ingesting fleas. Good control of fleas will prevent this tapeworm.

Taenia species.

Pets become infested by hunting and eating rodents or eating uncooked meat / carcasses. If your cat regularly hunts AND eats rodents, ask your vet about treatment for Taenia spp. tapeworms.

 

 

  1. Overgaauw et al., Veterinary and public health aspects of Toxocara spp. Veterinary Parasitology 2013, 398–403.
  2. Helminthoses digestives des carnivores domestiques. EMC, Veterinaire, Gastroenterologies, 0300, 2010.
  3. Power, C. et al. The prevalence of gastrointestinal and cardio-respiratory parasites in stray dogs and cats in Ireland. Poster presentation at ESCCAP Europe Congress, April 2018.

 

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