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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