There are lots of health conditions that can affect humans and animals alike. Many owners are surprised to discover that pets can suffer from diabetes too. In pets, it is known as diabetes mellitus and it is common, particularly amongst older animals when weight gain and deteriorating body systems can affect their health. Pets with diabetes may not be able to produce enough insulin, or if they can, their body may not use this insulin properly. This can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels that could potentially make your pet very sick.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Pets?
Recognizing that your pet is unwell is often one of the biggest challenges of ownership. Animals naturally try to mask vulnerabilities, including when they are unwell, and it’s up to us as pet parents to watch carefully for changing behaviors or other abnormalities that indicate that they may be sick and need professional help. Fortunately, diabetes does cause symptoms and your pet may experience one or a combination of the following:
Excessive thirst and urination
Weight loss, despite eating more than usual
Pungent breath with a sweet or chemical smell
Loss of body fat
In some cases, owners may not realize that their pet is unwell until they experience an episode of extremely low blood sugar. This can cause symptoms such as a seizure, weakness, lethargy, and even unconsciousness. If you suspect that your pet may have developed diabetes, or if they experience any of the symptoms of low blood sugar, it’s important that you speak to your vet.
Can Pet Diabetes be Prevented?
While not every case of diabetes in pets can be prevented, the good news is that there is a range of things that you can do to minimize your animal’s risk of developing this debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition. Most of these center around improving their overall health and wellness.
Help your pet to maintain a healthy weight
Obesity is well known as being the main cause of diabetes in adults, and it is also a key contributor to the development of diabetes in pets. The number of animals who are over the recommended weight is rising and so too are the number of them being diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Getting your pet’s weight under control is crucial to help prevent them from developing a range of health conditions including diabetes. Make sure that you aren’t overfeeding your pet, control their portion sizes, and be careful not to share human foods and sweet treats with them. Choose good quality food too, as this tends to have a higher protein content and less of the high carb ‘filling’ ingredients.
Build plenty of exercise into your daily routine
Exercise is an essential component of helping your pet maintain a healthy weight, as well as also improving their overall wellbeing. Even as your pet gets older, it’s important that you adapt their exercise routine to ensure that they can still get some physical activity in each day. If you aren’t sure how much exercise your pet should be getting, speak to your vet for advice.
Spay your female pet
Research has shown that intact females are at greater risk of developing diabetes than those who have been spayed. This is thought to be a result of hormone fluctuations that occur as part of their heat cycle. Veterinarians recommend that females pets get spayed before their first heat, which doesn’t only reduce their risk of diabetes, but also of some other female health conditions such as ovarian cancers and uterine infections.
Visit your vet regularly
Your vet isn’t only on hand to help you when your pet is sick. Annual wellness visits also give your veterinary team the opportunity to assess your pet’s health and detect any developing illnesses early on, potentially before they cause harm to your furry friend. Make sure you attend these appointments to keep your pet as healthy as possible at every stage of their life.
For more advice on preventing diabetes in pets, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced and knowledgeable veterinary team in Evansville, IN at (812) 710-4300.