As National Diabetes Week is June 8 to 14, leading veterinary charity, PDSA, wants to warn pet owners of how diabetes can affect their furry friends.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a disease which affects the body’s ability to control glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream. It can affect both cats and dogs and is more common in pets that are overweight.
The first signs are usually a gradual or sudden onset of drinking and urinating more than normal. The pet may be bright and alert, but lose weight in spite of having a ravenous appetite. As the pet’s health deteriorates they will become depressed, go off their food, be sick and become dehydrated due to fluid loss. The pet develops a serious condition called ‘ketoacidosis’ due to inability to use glucose from their food and have to break down their body fat instead. This may make the pet’s breath smell like pear drops or nail polish remover. Untreated ‘ketoacidosis’ can lead to a coma and eventually death.
If your pet is showing any of these signs you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. Pets will need to be examined to check for other possible causes, as quite a few different conditions have similar symptoms, and your vet will probably obtain a urine sample to test for sugar. A blood sample might also be taken.
If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, your vet will discuss the various treatment options with you. In order to manage the condition successfully your pet will need to have regular check-ups with your vet.
Some pets need insulin injections every day. If this is the case, your vet will explain how and when to give the injections. Some owners are understandably quite apprehensive about giving their pet injections, but most get used to it very quickly.
A controlled diet and regular exercise are vital.