How Does Diabetes Affect Dogs and Cats?

How Does Diabetes Affect Dogs and Cats?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is one of the most common endocrine diseases in humans. It is also quite common in dogs and cats, especially those over 7 years of age. The symptoms of diabetes are similar to those in people, including increased thirst, urination, hunger, and weight loss. If left untreated, the symptoms can progress to lethargy, seizures, coma and even death. Unlike in humans, who can suffer from either Type I diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes) and Type II (adult onset) diabetes, the disease in our furry friends is a hybrid of the two human forms. It is most commonly diagnosed in older dogs and cats, and it is almost always insulin dependent. Many pet parents are intimidated by the thought of having to give their dog or cat insulin injections; however, the injections are very well tolerated by the patient most of the time.

What continued care will be required for my pet?

Once the diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed, we will normally schedule an appointment with one of our technicians to go over how to administer insulin, how to store and handle insulin, and how to recognize symptoms of complications such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). We normally like to recheck the patient with a glucose curve after the initiation if insulin therapy. During the curve we will monitor the patient in the hospital for the day and check the blood sugar at regular intervals after the morning dose of insulin. This allows us to evaluate how the patient is responding to the insulin, and whether a dose adjustment is needed. It is common for newly diagnosed diabetics to require several dose adjustments before a maintenance dose is achieved.

What will the long term affects be on my pet?

Once we reach a maintenance dose, we will normally monitor a fructosamine every few months. Fructosamine requires one blood sample and gives us an idea of what the average blood glucose has been over the last several weeks. Luckily, most of our patients don’t suffer from some of the long term complications of diabetes the way people do, such as circulation problems, heart disease and kidney disease. However, they can develop cataracts as a result of their diabetes. The vast majority of diabetic dogs and cats can live a happy and healthy life.