TAMPA, Fla. – If your dog just can’t stop eating, or your cat seems to drink water all day long, the reason might be something you never thought of as a pet disease: diabetes.
In addition to the millions of people in the United States struggling with diabetes, the disease also affects dogs and cats. So doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are hoping to raise awareness about the condition this November, which is designated as Pet Diabetes Month.
The good news is that dogs and cats can live long, happy lives with the disease. The bad news is that your dog is never going to learn how to give himself insulin shots. Pets who thrive with diabetes do so because of the committed people who take care of them.
“Diabetes is something that can definitely be controlled in your dogs and cats. And in general, they can have a very good quality of life,” said Dr. Erick Mears, who is board-certified in veterinary internal medicine and is medical director of BluePearl’s Florida hospitals. “But it does require a commitment.”
The first step in treating diabetes in dogs or cats is to realize your pet has the disease. So make sure to keep up regular visits to your family veterinarian. Here are some of the warning signs:
- Drinking water excessively, which leads to urinating excessively.
- A big increase in appetite without gaining weight.
- Cataracts, which occurs in some diabetic dogs.
Diabetes occurs when pets (and humans) do not produce enough insulin, or have a condition that prevents the insulin from being used properly in the body. Insulin allows the body to use glucose, which is one of its main fuels.
Some cats can have their diabetes managed through diet, although others need regular injections of insulin. In contrast, dogs with diabetes almost always need regular insulin shots. So many pet owners learn how to give injections to their dogs or cats, and monitor their blood sugar levels.
As with humans, the reasons that pets get diabetes are not completely understood. It is known that obese cats are more susceptible.
Once your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Mears said it’s important to work with a primary care veterinarian who can recommend the best type and dosage of insulin for the pet.