Dogs and cats get diabetes too!
Many of us are familiar with the human condition “Diabetes Mellitus”, also known as high blood sugar. What many people do not know, is that our dogs and cats can suffer from the same condition too! Just like in people, diabetes can be life-threatening if not controlled in a timely manner.
Signs of diabetes
- Excessive thirst
- Urinates more often than usual, sometimes even losing urinary control
- Always hungry
- Weight loss despite increased food intake
- Thin, dry fur coat
- Changes in smell of breath – can smell sweet
Diabetes mellitus is characterized by an abnormally high blood sugar, together with the presence of sugar in the urine. Hence, it requires both a blood test and urine test to confirm the diagnosis.
In the more severe cases, there may also be ketones in the urine. When ketones are present, the patient is considered to be in Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which is life-threatening and requires intensive monitoring and round the clock veterinary care.
In many cases, there are other related conditions (eg. Pancreatitis, Cushing’s Disease) that may be detected at the same time which will also need to be managed.
Insulin is required to bring the blood sugar back down to normal. Often, this means lifelong insulin injections that you will need to administer at home. Even though this sounds daunting, most owners with diabetic pets find that it is easier to administer than they originally thought.
In the more severe cases, intensive treatment requiring hospitalization, IV fluid therapy, and repeated blood tests will need to be performed to save our patients’ lives.
A vital part of diabetic management is routine monitoring of our patients’ sugar levels. This can be done via several methods depending on the patient. It can be done via blood tests in clinic or at home, urine tests in clinic or at home, and even via an implanted sensor device which is connected to an app!