Dogs and cats get diabetes, too. Diabetes is caused by a lack of a hormone called insulin. Without insulin, the cells in the body cannot absorb and use glucose. This results in an excessive amount of glucose in the animal's blood stream. Diabetes is diagnosed when laboratory tests show increased amounts of glucose in the blood and urine.
Signs of Diabetes in Pets include:
- Increased thirst/excessive drinking of water
- Increased urination (sometimes urinary accidents or incontinence)
- Weight loss in spite of a good appetite
- Changes in the appearance of the coat (thinning; dry or dull coat; increased matting)
Certain pets are at greater risk of developing diabetes. Some risk factors (e.g. age, breed/genetics) cannot be prevented. However, one risk factor can be prevented. That risk factor is obesity! Preventing obesity is the most important thing you can do to reduce your pet's risk of developing diabetes.
November is Pet Diabetes Month. If you are concerned that your pet has diabetes, your veterinarian will want to ask you some questions, perform a thorough physical examination, and run some screening tests. With early diagnosis, and proper management and monitoring, a dog or cat with diabetes can lead a happy and active life. Check out the website PetDiabetesMonth.com for more information about diabetes in pets and to take a quiz to find out your pet's risk of developing diabetes.
Dr. Judy Gilbertson is an associate veterinarian at East Towne Veterinary Clinic. She has a background in education and enjoys giving presentations and teaching classes about pet care.