Pet Diabetes and Obesity: Prevention, Treatment, and Awareness

A woman staring down a dog over a piece of cheeseAlthough the topic of pet diabetes is not particularly fun, it is important. Since November is National Diabetes Month, we want to raise awareness and focus on prevention of this all-too-common disease.

While diabetes can take a heavy toll on a pet’s health, it’s important to understand that type II diabetes is actually preventable. For pets who have already been diagnosed, it may be comforting to know they can still lead relatively normal, healthy lives with the correct treatment plan.

Why the Rise in Pet Diabetes?

Similar to people, the rate of diabetes among pets has risen. In the U.S., it’s estimated that 1 in 200 dogs and 1 in 150 cats will develop the disease in their lifetime.

Although there are several factors that contribute to diabetes (breed, medical history, etc.), the strongest links have been identified as obesity and age. In fact, most pets who are diagnosed are over the age of 10.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

With type II diabetes, the body cannot produce enough insulin to process all the glucose (sugar) that’s being absorbed from food. This results in high levels of sugar building up the bloodstream (i.e., high blood sugar).

Symptoms of the disease develop over time and differ slightly among cats and dogs. For example, cats often experience muscle weakness and lameness while dogs are prone to cataracts. Typical signs of diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Renal issues, including urinary tract infections

Since these symptoms can be indicative of other diseases, the only way to receive an accurate diagnosis is through blood work and urinalysis. Early detection is also critical to prevent the onset of more severe secondary conditions, so contact us immediately if you observe any of these symptoms in your pet.

What You Can Do as a Pet Owner

There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of diabetes in your pet:

  • Monitor your pet’s weight (even 1-2 pounds can add up to a substantial percentage of total weight)
  • Provide a high-quality, nutritious diet (ask us for recommendations)
  • Avoid feeding your pet table scraps/people food
  • Exchange treats for more quality time with you and verbal praise
  • Schedule annual wellness exams (twice yearly for senior pets)
  • Provide 30 minutes of exercise each day

Treating the Disease – A Personalized Approach

If your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, you may feel a little overwhelmed and worried about the treatment, as well as his or her chances of living a healthy life.

At Prairie Ridge Veterinary Clinic, our patients are given a customized treatment plan. Progression of the disease and the occurrence of secondary complications varies with each pet, which is why we emphasize an individualized approach. We also want owners to feel confident and comfortable with at-home care, which often includes insulin injections.

In addition to medication and medical management, there are many aspects of nutrition, exercise, and daily care that can be enhanced to support your pet’s wellbeing.

If you would like to learn more about our comprehensive approach to treating pet diabetes, please schedule an appointment with us today.

posted in:  Pet Health  |  Pet Safety