As a pet owner, you want your pet to be happy and healthy. While your pet may become sick, they may not always let you know they feel unwell. For instance, a medical condition like diabetes can occur in pets of all ages, breeds, and sizes, but you may not know what signs to look for that point to the illness. Because of this, we’re hoping this guide on diabetes in dogs and cats may be beneficial to all pet owners. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about diabetes in dogs and cats and what to look for to help your furry family members.
A pet owner’s guide to diabetes in dogs and cats
What is diabetes?
Humans and pets alike can have the medical condition of diabetes. Wilde breaks down what diabetes mellitus does to your furry friends.
“Diabetes mellitus is a disease where your pet’s body can’t use sugar for fuel. This may happen for a few reasons – either due to the inability to produce insulin, decreased amounts of insulin, or inability to use insulin. Insulin allows the body to break sugar down so that it can be used for fuel. When there is an insulin deficiency or when the body can’t use it, the body has to use fat as its sole source for fuel. Because the body can’t use sugar for fuel, blood sugar increases, sometimes dramatically.”
If you have any cause for concern, please seek medical care for your pet. Please note, a disease like diabetes needs daily supervision and medical care and expertise from your veterinarian.
How does diabetes in dogs and cats occur?
Whether you are a new or seasoned pet owner, it may be helpful to know how medical conditions like diabetes occur. Naturally, it isn’t always one set factor that can trigger the disease. For example, “obesity can increase the risk in both dogs and cats of becoming diabetic. Also, diabetes can occur secondary to long-term steroid administration,” says Wilde.
Pet obesity prevention is important for the overall wellness of your furry friend. Consider incorporating playtime, walks, and enriching interaction to encourage daily physical activity.
Common signs of diabetes in dogs and cats
You want to be able to give your pets the best care possible when they are sick. But how do you know if your pet has a serious medical condition, like diabetes? Consider the following:
Wilde weighs in on the most common signs of diabetes mellitus in pets-
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Weight loss
- An increase in appetite
Naturally, all pets are unique and may not show all signs at once. In addition, “sometimes the signs of diabetes can be more subtle, and are not detected until the pet becomes very sick from the complications of diabetes mellitus,” points out Wilde. Because of this, please seek medical care immediately for your furry friend if you suspect your pet may have signs of diabetes.
A treatment plan for diabetes in dogs and cats
Treatment plans may vary depending on the diagnosis of your pet. Besides additional testing and diagnostics, the course of action for your furry friend is personalized for them.
Consider the following:
- Diabetes is diagnosed through blood tests and urine analysis. Your veterinarian may want to repeat the blood sugar measurement or do other confirmatory tests to make sure your pet is truly diabetic. They may also want to perform other diagnostic testing such as an abdominal ultrasound and blood pressure measurement.
- The goal of treatment in a diabetic dog and cat is to stabilize the pet’s blood sugar, thereby minimizing the signs of high blood sugar that the owner observes, such as excessive thirst and urination.
- Managing a diabetic pet will generally require daily insulin administration (injections). When first beginning treatment with insulin, pets often need weekly serial glucose measurements to determine the optimal dose of insulin, as it varies between pets and types of insulin.
- Diabetic dogs and cats can benefit from special food (often prescription) that will help their bodies stabilize their blood sugar on their own. In dogs, that diet is more likely to be lower in fat and higher in fiber, whereas in cats, that diet is more likely to be higher in protein.
- Other co-existing health conditions can contribute to the pet’s inability to use insulin, so maintaining an ideal weight can help minimize the amount of insulin needed.
- In dogs, when they are diagnosed diabetic, they will require insulin administration for the rest of their lives, whereas in cats, they can be “transiently diabetic” meaning that there is the possibility of diabetic remission, where they no longer require insulin.
Trupanion diabetes claims data
We checked in with the Trupanion data team to discover the history of diabetes claims in dogs and cats and the cost of medical care for your furry family members. For example, the average claimed amount for diabetes is $269.69. However, the highest claim for this condition was for a domestic shorthair cat and totaled $47,551.52 – the Trupanion policy paid $ 21,398.18! In addition, with 3,328 Trupanion pets affected and 68,559 claims for this medical condition, diabetes is quite common among dogs and cats.
Diabetes in dogs and cats: wellness for your best friend
While a diabetes diagnosis can be stressful for you and your family, with the proper diagnosis and treatment plan your best friend can live a long and healthy life. Whether you have several pets, or just one, the best way to help your pet is to maintain a yearly wellness exam and seek medical care when there are any concerns.
Read on to learn more about A Pet Owner’s Guide to Pet Obesity Prevention