Understanding Pet Diabetes

Author: Amy Holloway

With November being Pet Diabetes Month, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your older pet’s health and lifestyle. Diabetes in cats and dogs is common over the age of 6 and is mostly linked to obesity. Luckily for rabbits, diabetes isn’t common and for those rare cases that do develop it, the major contributing factor is thought to be obesity.

Pet diabetes can lead to blindness and can be fatal so it’s a good idea to get your pet checked out by a vet when they reach this age, if they’re overweight, or if you have any concerns.

Book a pet diabetes check

To support Pet Diabetes Month, Clent Hills Vets is promoting awareness of the disease by sharing some facts to help owners understand it. You can help by sharing this article on your Facebook and other social media pages too – don’t forget to tag us and use the hashtag #PetDiabetesAware

Commons signs of pet diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Being hungry all the time
  • Weight loss mainly over the back even if obese
  • Changes in gait
  • Loss of interest and lethargy
  • Cats may be less willing to jump vertically
  • Advanced diabetes can also cause vomiting and decreased appetite

Early diagnosis is essential – The earlier your vet can test for the underlying cause of diabetes, the sooner they can prescribe medication and start monitoring your pet’s condition and response to medication, hopefully avoiding some of the more serious complications of pet diabetes. Once diagnosed, with daily care most dogs and cats go on to lead full and happy lives.

There are two types of pet diabetes:

Type 1 – the body doesn’t make enough insulin and requires life-long insulin therapy (injections twice a day). Most commonly seen in dogs, will become diabetic for life.

Type 2 – the body creates some insulin, but not enough, or something stops its ability to be used in the correct way. Most commonly seen in cats, may only need daily insulin injections for a few or several months, not necessarily for life.

Other contributing factors can include – chronic or repeated pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, gender (unspayed female dogs are twice as likely to develop diabetes than males), and some autoimmune disorders and viruses are thought to trigger it. Genetics can also be a cause.

Genetics – dog breeds predisposed to developing diabetes: Miniature Schnauzers, Australian Terriers, Standard Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Poodles, Keeshonds, and Samoyeds. Golden Retrievers and Keeshonds are most at risk of developing juvenile diabetes.

Can you prevent pet diabetes? In some cases no, for example, if it’s related to genetics or illness, but what you can do is lessen the risk of pet diabetes from obesity. A healthy diet, the right amount of exercise, and keeping your pet’s weight at a healthy level will all help. Our nursing team can support you with this.

Book a diabetes checkup at Clent Hills Vets and bring a urine sample if you can – ask our nurses if you’re unsure how to collect one.

Book a diabetes check for your pet