Facing an unexpected diagnosis for any condition in your pet can be difficult. Diabetes is no different. But, we have some good news for you…
Good News #1: It is manageable!
Don’t panic! While diabetes is a serious condition, it can be managed with the help of your veterinarian and animal health team.
Good News #2: Your pet can still live a long and healthy life!
Through proper diet, an active lifestyle and consistent medicating, your diabetic pet can live a rich and fulfilling life by your side.
Diabetes is not species specific, so it can be diagnosed in both dogs and cats. The cause of it, however, remains unknown. Although some researchers have linked diabetes in animals to obesity, that is not always the case. Diabetes can affect animals of any age, weight or size.
In simplest terms, diabetes is a condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body does not appropriately respond to the insulin provided. Insulin is a natural defense against excessive amounts of sugar in the body. Although it sounds like a simple enough solution to just cut all sugar from our diet entirely, sugar is naturally found in most (if not all) foods.
Common Signs of Diabetes…
The most common symptoms of diabetes in an animal could include, but are not limited to:
- drinking more
- urinating more
- disheveled fur
- weight loss
- cats may walk lower on their back legs
- increased appetite
Diabetes is diagnosed in animals by a veterinarian using a combination of clinical signs, blood tests and urine tests. Once your pet has been officially diagnosed as diabetic, they will be admitted into the hospital where your veterinarian will begin insulin therapy. At this time, your pet’s blood glucose levels will be closely monitored. Based on those results, your veterinarian will put together a treatment plan. Upon discharge, you will be given a lesson on how to give an insulin injection yourself at home and what important signs to watch out for. But don’t worry, giving the injection becomes easier with time, and most pets do not mind it at all (or even notice). It is a very tiny needle and very small amount. Blood glucose monitoring will be done at least weekly in the beginning stages, until your pet shows the desired results. At this point, the frequency of appointments will diminish.
The initial costs after a diabetic diagnosis involve regular blood work, urine testing and additional physical examinations. Once your pet has been regulated, however, management of diabetes is a fairly low-cost treatment. Insulin medication and injections cost less than a coffee a day – and we mean a Tim Horton’s coffee, not a Starbucks coffee!
As we mentioned above, proper diet plays a key role in diabetic management. Your pet will need to eat regardless, but yes, they will require a specially formulated food, which will cost about the same as a good quality pet food anyway. Physical activity is also important, as is consistency when it comes to medications. More frequent examinations will be required for your pet. This is due to the associated concerns that arise when managing diabetes – we want to make sure that your pet does not develop any other health issues, and make sure we have the ability to offer quick support care, if they should occur.
Your pet will need to come in 3-4 times yearly for blood and urine testing and twice yearly for a full examination with a comprehensive ophthalmic exam.
Most pets live a long, happy and healthy life even with this condition present. Although it requires heightened attention and perseverance, a regular schedule can be developed quite quickly to make you feel that it is as normal as brushing your teeth twice a day! And, of course, the veterinarians and staff here at Snelgrove Vet are available to answer any questions that you may have. We are also here to lend an ear to listen, or a shoulder to lean on ❤