November is Diabetes Awareness Month for pets. Diabetes mellitus is a well-known disease in humans. Few people know that it can touch our four-legged friends too!
WHAT IS DIABETES MELLITUS?
Diabetes is a hormonal disease, due to a lack or insufficient action of insulin, which regulates the blood sugar level.
Glucose, a vital source of energy for the body
Dogs and cats find in their diet , sugars which are transformed into glucose during the digestion. Glucose then passes in the bloodstream and used as an essential energy source for all organs. Normally, this is allowed by insulin, a hormone that passes glucose from the blood to the cells that make up the organs.
When insulin fails or does not work properly, glucose can not get into the cells, which then denies, those same cells, access to their main fuel. Glucose then accumulates in the blood, which is at the origin of various health disorders for diabetic animals.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF DIABETES IN PETS?
In humans, diabetes is divided into two forms: Type I and Type II.
These are also called juvenile diabetes and adult diabetes, or insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
In short, type 1 is the type where the pancreas produces no insulin (dogs), and in type 2, the pancreas produces insulin, but not enough or there is interference with its effectiveness (cats).
Certain endocrine conditions such as Cushing’s disease ( where the adrenal glands secrete too much cortisol) and certain medications (cortisone) can promote the onset of diabetes.
While diabetes has been diagnosed in dogs and cats of all ages, sexes and breeds, some animals are more at risk of developing the disease.
RISK FACTORS IN DOGS
- Age (middle to older dogs are most affected)
- Unsterilized females
- Specific breeds : These breeds present a higher risk of developing diabetes:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Toy poodles
RISK FACTOR IN CATS
- Age (older cats are more sensitive)
- Sterilized males
- Other conditions or conditions that may cause insulin reduction or resistance such as chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
- Physical inactivity
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DIABETES IN DOGS AND CATS?
Thus, the main clinical signs of diabetes mellitus are:
- Eating excessively
- Drinking excessively
- Excessive urination
- Weight loss (over an extended period of time …)
The signs are sometimes subtle in cats.
A plantigrade walk (compared to a normal swift walk) is sometimes observed in cats.
DO DIABETES HAVE CONSEQUENCES FOR THE HEALTH AND LONGEVITY OF MY ANIMAL? (In short, are we obligated to treat?)
Without proper treatment, diabetes mellitus can cause serious complications. Let’s mention the most common ones:
- Cataracts (can lead to blindness)
- Urinary tract infections (recurrent)
- Coma and even death
First thing to know, oral hypoglycemic agents are not very effective in animals. So very little are used in veterinary medicine.
The main treatment is insulin, which must be injected every 12 hours, sometimes for the life of the animal (although cures are possible in cats).
Glucose curves should be performed regularly, ideally by the owner at home, or at the clinic.
FOOD CHANGES MUST ME MADE:
Dogs: diets low in calories and high in fiber
Cats: diets rich in protein and low in carbohydrates.
Considering that obesity is a significant risk factor for the onset of diabetes, keeping your pet at a healthy weight is a simple and very effective procedure.
Managing your dog’s or cat’s diabetes will require effort, but the rewards are worth it. Once controlled, thirst urination, appetite, and activity level return to normal and they are less likely to develop complications related to this disease.
If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to contact a member of the medical team of the Clinic (514-634-4190) who will be happy to assist you.