Understanding and Managing Pet Diabetes: A Guide for Worried Pet Parents
Diabetes in pets is a growing concern in the United States. While the number of dogs and cats with diabetes is about 1%, that number is on the rise. Understanding and preventing this condition is crucial for your pets’ well-being. This guide will help you recognize the signs of diabetes in your dogs and cats and will provide essential management tips to help your diabetic pet.
Diabetes in Dogs: Risk Factors and Prevalence in Certain Breeds
Diabetes can occur in dogs of all ages, but some are more susceptible to developing it. Those at higher risk for developing diabetes include middle-aged to older dogs, unspayed females, certain breeds, and obese dogs. Genetics plays a role, as well.
These dog breeds are more prone to developing diabetes:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Toy Poodles
- Miniature Schnauzers
How to Recognize the Signs of Diabetes in Dogs
It’s up to us as pet parents to notice changes in our pet’s behaviors. Common symptoms of diabetes in dogs include:
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Excessive hunger coupled with weight loss
- Changes in fur quality
How to Manage Your Dog’s Diabetes
It’s important to take your diabetic dog to their veterinarian regularly- as often as every three months- for monitoring and managing diabetes. Your dog will probably need daily insulin injections for the rest of his life to control blood glucose levels, as well as some other important changes.
Managing your dog’s diet is important as well. They need a diet rich in high-quality protein and fiber, and low in carbohydrates, along with a consistent exercise routine. Your diabetic dog will need access to plenty of water; don’t limit them, this is how they regulate themselves. Limiting their water intake could be life-threatening!
You may need to take them out to potty more often or hire a dog walker or pet sitter to help you if you can’t get home during work hours. Make sure to take them to the vet especially if there are changes in clinical signs.
Diabetes in Cats: Understanding the Risk in Cats
Our kitties also suffer from diabetes due to factors like obesity, age, and an indoor lifestyle. We keep our cats indoors to keep them safe but must also increase their activity level. According to PetDiabetesMonth.com, these are some factors that make cats more susceptible to developing diabetes:
- Age (older cats are more susceptible)
- Neutered males
- Other insulin-resistant disorders or diseases, such as chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
- Physical inactivity
- Indoor lifestyle
Identifying the Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats
Just like dogs, you’ll look for signs such as excessive thirst, excessive urination and hunger, lethargy, poor grooming habits, and changes in fur quality. Some of these symptoms coincide with other illnesses, so a visit to the veterinarian is paramount.
Effective Diabetes Management Strategies for Cats
Managing feline diabetes involves daily insulin injections. Cat parents can learn to administer them, or hire someone to help them. They must be given after eating, according to your veterinarian’s instructions.
Diet and exercise are also important parts of the diabetes management strategy. A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is recommended, as is more activity indoors. Food portions and the timing of meals must be consistent, and regular vet visits are crucial for monitoring and adjusting treatment as needed.
Summary: How to Care for a Diabetic Pet
Insulin Administration, Diet and Nutrition for Diabetic Pets
Your pets will most likely need insulin injections to restore your pet’s insulin levels and control blood glucose levels. The right diet is crucial for managing diabetes. For both dogs and cats, a diet high in protein and low in carbs and sugars is beneficial. Meal consistency and portion control based on the pet’s ideal body weight are important, as well.
Exercise and Activity for Diabetic Pets
Regular, consistent exercise is beneficial for diabetic dogs, but it should be carefully monitored as it affects blood glucose levels. Consult with your vet to create an appropriate exercise routine, and remember to let your dog walker know your pet’s limits and needs. Cats also benefit from additional exercise, so invest in a cat wand and other toys and spend quality time with them!
Diabetes in pets is a manageable condition with the help of your veterinarian, the right medication, diet, and vigilance. Remember to take your diabetic dogs and cats in for regular veterinary checkups, stick to a consistent time and portion of food, and ensure they’re exercising to keep your diabetic pets healthy. Notice any changes and keep your pet informed if you see them. Diabetes is manageable, and you can continue to enjoy many more memories with your pups and kitties when you follow your vet’s advice! Do you want to know if your pet is at risk of developing diabetes? Take this online pet diabetes risk quiz and share the results with your veterinarian.
A founding member of the Equipaws family, Frankie can mostly be found working behind the scenes, helping co-create online branding, managing several social media accounts, designing brand collateral, writing copy, and managing events. She also fills in for pet sitters and dog walkers when needed in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and South Miami. Her own small pack consists of Boots the Shih Tzu mix and Nutmeg the Chiweenie.