This month of November, we are bringing light to Pet Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus), a common, yet complex disorder that has unfortunately gained prevalence around the world and in Australia.
What Is Pet Diabetes?
In pets, similarly to humans, diabetes occurs when the body lacks insulin, stops producing it, or is unable to respond to it. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas and is responsible for allowing glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream to provide the cells with the energy they need to function.
Deficiency of insulin or its improper utilisation forces the body to use other energy sources haphazardly. The body will also need to break down body tissues which are converted to sugar to satisfy the cells’ energy demands. The results are a significant rise in the blood sugar level and toxins build-up. High blood sugar level can cause damage to major organs, including kidneys, eyes, and heart. Failure to treat it can be fatal.
Although the exact cause is unknown, several risk factors may contribute to its development. These include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Certain Breeds (studies show that these breeds have a higher risk: Australian Terriers, Miniature Poodles, Pugs, Dachshunds, Fox Terriers and Beagles)
- Age (most commonly occurs to middle-aged and older dogs)
- Diet (high fat and sugar content can lead to pancreatitis)
- Gender (unspayed female dogs are twice as likely to get it)
- Steroid medications
- Other Diseases (autoimmune disease, chronic Pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, Hypothyroidism, Acromegaly)
- Excessive thirst and appetite
- Increase urination with noticeable urinary accidents
- Sudden weight loss
- Sweet ‘acetone’ breath
- A dull coat
Diagnosis and Treatment
The veterinarian can make a diagnosis through physical examination, urine and blood tests. Once confirmed, the vet will advise of the next steps to manage the disease properly. Successful treatment options depend on the severity of the case and may include:
- Insulin injections
- Dietary changes
- Weight loss and exercise program
Pet Diabetes Is Manageable
As November is Pet Diabetes Awareness month, your responsibility as a pet parent is to educate yourself about the disease. It is only with gaining knowledge that you can learn the proper course of action to care for your furry friends. Pay close attention to any changes in your pet’s behaviour. If they manifest the symptoms or possess risk factors that can lead to diabetes, it’s best to seek veterinary advice.
Whilst a diagnosis can be overwhelming, keep in mind that it’s a treatable condition and with proper management, your pet can lead a healthy, happy and normal life.
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