Thursday, November 19, 2009

November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month

This article about diabetes in dogs was taken from The Edmund Sun. It is of great interest to all pet owners and makes us all aware of the symptoms of Diabetes in pets.

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Today 50 percent of our pets are overweight or obese, which certainly can predispose them to developing diabetes. Both dogs and cats develop the same two types of diabetes seen in humans. The greater majority of dogs develop Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus where the body simply does not produce any insulin.

Most cats, on the other hand, develop Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. In cats the disease is due either to not producing enough insulin or an inability to utilize the insulin that is produced in the body — the same as Type 2 diabetes in humans. We know the obese cat is certainly more prone to developing diabetes. This type of diabetes also may develop secondary to another disease such as pancreatitis.

With either form of diabetes, and in both cats and dogs, insulin is the primary means of control. Oral hypoglycemic medications may work in a few cats but only in 25 percent to 30 percent of cases. Giving a once or twice daily pill to a cat is way down the list of fun things to do for most cat owners.

It is essential to achieve good control of blood glucose levels as soon as possible and to maintain them by checking on a regular basis. Injectable insulin, professional care and in-home monitoring can help ensure a good maintenance of blood glucose levels. Your veterinarian will want to initially regulate your pet, but easily can teach you how to better maintain your pet’s glucose level at home on a daily basis. This is a disease that will require close contact and an open channel of communication between you and your veterinarian.

Treating and caring for a diabetic pet takes a huge commitment in both time and dollars. Regular administration of insulin is a must, so sacrifices may need to be made to get the pet an injection at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. everyday, or 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., or just once in the morning but on a regular basis. This is another reason that in-home monitoring can be so helpful in that exact insulin needs can be met. There is a new in-home kit made by abbott that is specific for cats and dogs, has a lancet that can be used on the ear vein and does not have to be converted over from the human glucose meters.

Initial symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst and urination, possible sudden weight loss and frequent urinary tract infections. Lack of energy and listlessness also are on the list. If you are having your pets checked by their veterinarian every six months as is recommended, the odds are you will find out about the disease early and be able to provide for a longer, more comfortable life with great diabetic control. Remember, pets age about seven years for each calendar year, so a once a year examination is like us waiting seven years for a check-up. A lot can happen during this time. As with all diseases or bodily changes, the earlier we detect a problem, the better chance we have of fixing it.

The ounce of prevention applies here also in that you must find ways to keep your pets’ weights down in a normal range. A change in diet to lower calories, fewer treats, a feather on a stick for playing, a laser light to chase or a good walk around the block for your special canine buddies will help a lot. Simple changes in lifestyle can make a huge difference with time and by making it a habit, it is good for you and for your pet. If you need help with any of these preventive measures just ask your veterinarian.

DR. M. MARGARET KING, a longtime Edmond veterinarian, is a guest columnist. If you have any questions for her, send them to 1900 S. Bryant, Edmond, OK 73013.