Pet owners who love their dogs or cats share a lot with their furry friends, from table scraps to a place on their couch or bed. Unfortunately, just like humans, dogs and cats run the risk of developing diabetes, which can severely hamper their health and lead to a host of other problems. Fortunately, however, pet owners who watch for the early warning signs of diabetes can get their pets the treatment they need to lead longer, happier lives while managing the disease. As is the case with most diseases, early diagnosis and prevention are the key to keeping dogs and cats with diabetes healthier for longer periods of time.
Just as it is in humans, diabetes in dogs and cats means the body does not produce enough insulin, the hormone produced in the pancreas that controls the level of glucose in the blood. Without this essential hormone, glucose levels in the body of a dog or cat can accumulate to unsafe levels. Glucose can pass through the body without being absorbed into the bloodstream and urine, where it draws large volumes of water with it. Because glucose exits the body without entering the bloodstream, the body’s cells don’t get enough of the critical fuel they need to stay healthy. The body will begin to break down fat and muscle tissue to be converted into sugar so that the metabolic process can continue.
Although diabetes can be a serious condition, pet owners who are concerned about the health of their dogs or cats can look for the warning signs and get their pets the early treatment they need to stay healthy. The primary warning signs in dogs and cats include increased thirst and water consumption, along with weight loss and decreased appetite. Chronic and recurring infections, especially skin and urinary infections, also are signs that a dog or cat may be diabetic. Cloudy eyes, especially in dogs, are another sign that the pet owner should take his or her pet to the vet as soon as possible for testing.
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There are a variety of risk factors that may increase a dog’s or cat’s risk of developing diabetes, but it is possible for any dog or cat to develop the disease. The most significant risk factor is obesity, which has been found to increase the risk of diabetes in cats three- to five-fold. Obesity also can lead to kidney or pancreatic disease that can trigger diabetes or worsen its symptoms. Age is another significant risk factor, with more dogs between ages 8 and 12 being diagnosed with the disease, and more cats between ages 9 and 13. Female dogs are twice as likely as male dogs to become diabetic, but male cats are one-and-a-half times as likely as female cats to develop the disease. Male cats that have been neutered have twice the risk of diabetes, and long-term use of medications containing corticosteroids put both dogs and cats at a much higher risk. Certain breeds, such as dachshunds and beagles for dogs and Burmese cats, are genetically predisposed to have a higher risk of diabetes.
Once a dog or cat is diagnosed as being diabetic, a veterinarian may prescribe regular insulin injections. The dog or cat will need to be put on a special balanced diet and get regular exercise. People who own diabetic pets will need to give their dogs and cats special care for the rest of their lives. However, by doing this, pet owners can ensure that they will be able to share many happy memories with their pets in that time.
Author bio: Thomas Boston is Founder of Cash Now Offer. Cash Now Offer provides cash for unused diabetic test strips and is focused on educating people about diabetes