Diabetes is found in both dogs and cats. “Diabetes mellitus” is a disorder of insufficient production of or reduced sensitivity to insulin.” (merriam-webster.com) Most of the time the pancreas does not produce insulin or not enough insulin to transport glucose from the blood into the cell. This results in a high concentration of glucose in the bloodstream. The signs of diabetes your pet may exhibit are increase drinking and urination, increase eating but seems to be losing weight, and may be lethargic or weak. Dogs also may go suddenly blind with mature cataracts.
First of all why does diabetes cause increase drinking and urination? The glucose (sugar) has to go somewhere so it is removed by the kidneys into the bladder. Water follows the high concentration of sugar to dilute it. This action increases the amount of urine produced and increases the frequency of going to bathroom. A urinalysis will show the increase of glucose in the urine.
Next, why does an animal lose weight and become lethargic? A dog or cat may lose weight because the
cells of the body are not being fed. Glucose is an energy molecule and is not able to pass through the cell
wall without the help of insulin. When insulin is not present, then the glucose floats in the bloodstream
unable to be used. If you click on the link you can see a brief video about insulin from Abbott’s Alphatrak.
If you think your pet may be showing signs of diabetes, schedule an appointment for your pet to be seen by a veterinarian for a physical examination. The veterinarian may recommend blood work with urinalysis, to note the glucose, but also monitor kidney and thyroid levels because other diseases show similar signs.
So what happens if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes? Normally the pet would go on a prescription diet to help maintain glucose in the blood stream and to avoid spikes after eating. For example cats would go on a high protein diet like Purina DM and dogs a high fiber diet like Hill’s W/D. Also the pet would start on insulin to control the glucose. Routine blood testing like Glucose curves and Fructosamine helps regulate the amount of insulin the pet needs.
Pets that are well managed for diabetes live a full life. So here are a few links to learn more about diabetes and how it is managed by testing, diet, and insulin treatments.