Puddles around the house?
Is your pet drinking more than normal? It’s time to check for diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition where the blood glucose (sugar) and urine sugar levels are too high. There are two main types of diabetes; diabetes mellitus (DM) and diabetes insipidus (DI). Diabetes mellitus is far more common in animals and is the type of diabetes we will be referring to in this article.
Diabetes affects both cats and dogs and is more likely to develop in older, overweight animals. Diabetes in dogs is most commonly diagnosed between 5-12 years of age. It is a disease caused by a lack of insulin or lack of the body’s ability to respond to insulin. Insulin is a hormone which keeps blood sugar (glucose) at an optimum level. When there is a lack of insulin, sugar from food builds up in the blood and is unable to be used by the cells in the body. Eventually this glucose which is unable to be used starts to appear in the urine.
Spotting diabetes in your pet
The most common clinical signs seen in diabetes is an increase in drinking and subsequently an increase in urination. Another sign seen is weight loss and lack of energy as animals are not able to use the glucose in their body as effectively. This can cause a rapid drop in weight as a result. In dogs, diabetes can cause a sudden cloudiness to the eyes. In some cases where diabetes has been left untreated for a longer period of time we can see vomiting and even collapse.
The good news is that the majority of diabetic animals can now be treated and may live normal, happy lives if you are prepared to invest time and money in their care.
Diabetes is normally diagnosed with blood tests; this will show prolonged elevation of glucose levels unrelated to food intake. A good screening test for diabetes is to test a urine sample for sugars. Glucose or sugar levels are generally elevated in the urine of diabetic animals. However in some cats, glucose can be present in the urine due to stress, so this is not a perfect test and is why blood tests are also necessary to confirm.
Once your pet is diagnosed as diabetic they can be managed on a combination of twice daily insulin injections under the skin at home and close dietary management. Consistent exercise is also important, especially in dogs, to prevent sugar fluctuations. Diabetes treatment is lifelong management, and your pet will need to be closely monitored by yourself and your vet to ensure they are on an appropriate insulin dose. This will mean regular visits to the vets for blood tests and weight checks. Entire female dogs who are diabetic are recommended to be spayed to help control diabetes.
If an animal is on insulin injections, they are more at risk of having hypoglycaemic episodes where their sugar levels get too low. This can cause wobbliness and collapse. Hypoglycaemic episodes can be rapidly treated by putting sugar such as jam or honey on the gums of your pet. If you suspect your pet may have had a hypoglycaemic episode, then you should seek advice from your vet immediately.
Diabetic dogs and cats can live long and healthy lives with proper management and veterinary care.
So, if you have noticed puddles around the house from your pet have a think about booking them in for a check with your vet. Drinking more and urinating more can be a sign of many other conditions and would not in every case be due to diabetes. Other issues that could cause similar signs include urinary tract infections, kidney disease, hyperadrenocorticism (cushings) and hyperthyroidism. Your vet will be able to talk through all of the ways to check for these conditions and examine your pet to narrow down the potential causes.
Because older dogs and cats are more likely to develop age-related diseases or conditions, some of which could be confused with diabetes, regular examinations by a vet can keep your pet healthy and detect problems before they become severe.
Find out everything you need to know about diabetes in your pet, plus the next steps if you suspect they may be displaying symptoms, in this comprehensive guide: