Pour Some Insulin On Me: Pet Diabetes and What You Can Do to Help

Diabetes is more commonly known in humans, but pets are also at risk for the disease. There are plenty of pets that are being treated for it currently and we at Cloud Peak want to make sure that your furry pal gets the best diagnosis for its ailments and that we can help in any way. Let’s start off with a fundamental understanding of what diabetes is and then move from there!

The Basics

Missy is over here looking cute as ever! Her family has kept her happy and healthy, despite her being diabetic.

There are different types of diabetes, but the most common one in animals is “sugar diabetes.” This type affects the body’s metabolism and how it breaks down the sugars in your pet’s food to convert it to sugar and then energy. Glucose is the sugar that animals use to power their body and get energy from. Insulin is essential in getting the glucose where it needs to go – think of insulin as a mode of transportation for the glucose to fuel the body. When there is not enough insulin being produced naturally, or the body does not use it, the body will react very negatively. When there is not enough insulin, the glucose has nowhere and creates an unusable reserve that is not beneficial. This high amount of glucose is called hyperglycemia. As the glucose levels increase, they start to overflow into the urine and will take large quantities of water with it. This will result in your diabetic pet drinking more, urinating more frequently, and have higher volumes of urine. But, that’s not the only way the body is affected. 

Because glucose is needed to make energy, it has to be distributed everywhere. When the insulin made by the pancreas is not sufficient, then the glucose, or energy, is not delivered to the cells. The cells will not have enough energy to function and that’s where the big problem is. When this happens, the body will start to go into starvation mode and break down the fat or muscle already in the body, which typically results in weight loss, as the body cannot keep up with the high demand of energy. 

So, bottom line: The body breaks down food into glucose. That glucose is then taken by the insulin to the other parts of the body to be used as energy. When the insulin doesn’t get its job done, then the body does not get the energy it needs from its food and it will start using the fat and muscle reserves.

The Signs

Now that we know what is happening in the body, let’s look at how the body will outwardly show this lack of insulin. In other words, let’s take a look at the symptoms and what you should be monitoring in your pet. There are some differences between cats and dogs when it comes to diabetes, but the symptoms are the same across the board: 

  • Excessive water drinking (this is to make up for all the water that is brought into the urine when the glucose levels overflow)
  • Excessive urination (because the water is being brought with the glucose, your pet will have more to urinate out)
  • Weight loss (when the insulin doesn’t deliver the glucose, the body turns on itself and will start taking weight off your pet)
  • Increased/decreased appetite (your pet’s food intake could change based on how the body starts to get energy from the fat or muscle)
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs are more likely to be seen with this symptoms than cats)
  • Chronic or frequent infections (this could vary from skin to urinary infections, but if the infections are continuous and don’t seem to ever go away, then it could be diabetes)

There are some pets that are more susceptible to getting diabetes, and that is another factor to look for. Diabetes can occur at any age but here are some more specifics! 

Dogs

  • Diabetes is most common between 4 and 14 years 
  • It is most commonly diagnosed when your pup is between 7 and 10 years old
  • Females are twice as likely to be diagnosed with it than male canines
  • 1 in every 300 dogs will develop diabetes in their lifetime

Cats: 

  • Diabetic cats are typically 6 years old or older 
  • 1 in every 230 cats will develop diabetes at some point

For more information about what pets are at risk, please visit this American Veterinary Medical Association article

Although there is no treatment for diabetes, you can help your pet manage it and still live a long, healthy life. Let’s go over some of the options! 

Treatment Plans

Like we mentioned, there is no cure for diabetes, but there are treatment plans for your furry pal to manage it better! After your pet is diagnosed by a veterinarian, there will be an initial dose and type of insulin specifically for your pet’s situation. The type and dosage should only be monitored and altered by a veterinarian that you trust, so please do not try to do it on your own. If you do, there could be negative health consequences that your pet will have to endure. Insulin can only be administered through injections that are typically done at home. Your vet will show you how and where to give the injection. If you’re nervous about that, talk to your vet and keep in mind that your pet loves you and is very tolerant of the injection because the needle is very small. At home, you’ll be expected to monitor your pet’s blood sugar and be able to report back to your vet check ups. To do this, we recommend the Libre Freestyle Monitor. It’s an implant that has a wireless monitor which makes it easier, less messy, and more comfortable for your pet. We highly recommend it, and if you have any questions, please give us a call at 1 (307) 347-2781.

This is Lucy Lu! She’s one of our diabetic patients and she’s such a sweetheart! Look at her riding shotgun with her family!

As wonderful it would be if all it took was an insulin injection, there’s a bit more needed than that. When you find out your pet is diabetic, it typically calls for an entire lifestyle change for your little buddy. This includes a regular exercise schedule, a change in diet, and your help. Your pet really cannot do this without you, so it is vital that you are willing to try new plans that you and your vet decide upon and stick with. When you take care of your pet’s diabetes, they’ll live a longer, healthier, and most importantly, happier life. 
We want to see your pet doing its best and we are more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. If you would like your pet to be tested, you want to try the Libre monitor, or anything else, please visit our website! We are also available by phone, so please give us a call!

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