So you’ve been noticing that your pet has been hanging out by the water bowl a lot more than he used to and the kitty litter is pretty wet or your dog is begging to go outside all the time- day and night. There are a number of diseases that can cause increased drinking and urinating and one of the most common is diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes is seen in many animals, including dogs, cats, humans and even birds. There are two main types of diabetes in people- Type 1, or juvenile, which starts at a young age and is treated with insulin, and Type 2, which is often seen in older, overweight adults and is treated with a combination of diet, exercise and medications.
Diabetes is generally caused by a lack of insulin being produced by the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that allows the glucose in the blood to get into the cells which need it for energy. If there is not enough insulin, the glucose does not leave the blood and levels increase while the cells are starving. Those cells can use other sources like proteins and fats for a while, but the waste from that, called ketones, can become toxic. Eventually, those cells will start to die. Without medication, diabetes is fatal.
Dogs typically get Type 1 diabetes. Some breeds like Labradors and poodles are predisposed, but it can be seen in any breed. The first signs are increased drinking and urinating, followed by weight loss. If left untreated, the pet will become sick with vomiting, lack of appetite and lethargy as the toxin levels build up. The sooner he is started on insulin, the better. Initially, a hospital stay is needed to monitor the blood glucose while the insulin is being given. After discharge, a weekly check helps to monitor progress and determine the best insulin dosage. A maintenance diet that is low in soluble carbohydrates is also important to prevent big swings in the blood glucose level.
Cats are a little different. Their diabetes is more like Type 2. While they are also started on insulin, some of those cats can go into remission with proper diet. A canned high protein, high fat and low carbohydrate diet can maintain moderate blood glucose levels. In cats, diabetes can often be prevented. The vast majority of cats which become diabetic are overweight and eat a high-carbohydrate, dry diet ad-lib. Given the opportunity, most cats will eat way more than their daily calorie needs if food is available all the time
The part about diabetes that most clients are worried about is the fact that insulin must be given by injection. While this may seem scary, most pets are quite amenable to getting the injections. The needles are very tiny and if the dose is given while the pet is eating, they barely even notice. I know that I would much rather give a cat an injection than a pill any day!
If you have any questions or think your pet is showing signs of diabetes, please give us at Blairstown Animal Hospital a call and we can discuss it with you. We want you and your furry family member to have many happy years together.