Always make sure you discuss any medications or health questions with your Veterinarian.
We’re currently running an ad on 98.5 The Sports Hub regarding pets and diabetes. We’ve received several calls and emails about the ad so I decided to post a blog on the subject. Please remember, I’m not an expert.
What Causes Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?
Diabetes in dogs and cats is very similar to diabetes in humans. Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a genetic condition your pet may be born with. The Pancreas does not produce insulin. Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) is far more prevalent, but not genetic. Obesity and poor health often lead to T2D. In both situations, our body cannot process insulin properly.
Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream to enter the body’s cells to be used as an energy source. If the pancreas completely loses the ability to manufacture insulin—Type 1 diabetes— the pet is dependent on external administration of the hormone. Usually in the form of injections. In other instances, the pet can manufacture insulin, but the body doesn’t respond to it- Type 2 diabetes.
It is thought that obese dogs and female dogs may run a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life (6-9 years of age). According to The American Kettle Club, “Among purebreds, breeds vary in susceptibility, some with very low risk and others with higher risk. Some that may be at higher risk include miniature Poodles, Bichons Frises, Pugs, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Puli, Samoyeds, Keeshonds, Australian Terriers, Fox Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles.“
What Are the Signs of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats?
No matter the cause, all diabetics have elevated blood sugar that spills over into the urine, causing a predictable array of clinical signs:
• Drinking and urinating much more frequently. The presence of glucose in the urine prevents the kidneys from effectively doing their job re-absorbing water into the bloodstream.
• Increased hunger. Despite the high levels of glucose in the blood, the body can’t utilize it for energy. It’s kind of like sitting at a buffet with your mouth taped shut; there’s food everywhere, but it’s not doing you any good. So the body continues to signal pets to eat more and more to raise blood glucose levels.
• Weight loss. Again, despite the increased appetite, the body can’t do anything with the calories being swallowed, so patients lose weight.
• Additional signs may include vomiting, poor coat condition, cataracts in dogs, and abnormal gait in cats.
Do not ignore these signs. Diabetes will harm nearly every organ and can even lead to a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis. Without treatment, diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to brain swelling, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and death.
Just as with humans managing a pet’s blood sugar is both an art and a science. If your Vet also prescribes insulin, it can take some time before you determine the right amount or type of insulin. It can be confusing, but it’s worth pursuing and treating. Various factors, including stress, illness, diet, and even weather can cause variances in blood sugar from day to day, so it may be a challenge for owners.
You can test your pet’s blood glucose through Urinalysis Strips or Blood Glucose Test Strips. The guidelines below were taken from Cat-Dog Diabetes:
Monitoring glucose and ketones in the urine
You may be asked by your veterinary surgeon to monitor your diabetic dog by regularly testing samples of its urine.
1. Collect urine samples from your dog a few times a week at different times of day. The best times to collect urine are in the morning and afternoon before feeding and at night just before bedtime.
2. Take your dog out for a walk on a lead.
3. Have a clean container ready to catch urine when your dog urinates.
Testing urine using urine dipsticks
1. Follow the instructions for the dipsticks you are using, particularly for the time to read the results.
2. Place the dipstick in the container with the urine and soak the test pads.
3. Remove the dipstick and tap dry.
4. Read the result after the time specified on the stick bottle (usually 1 minute).
5. Hold the stick against the chart on the dipstick container to compare colors.
6. Record the results including time of collection and times of insulin injections given for that day.
Monitoring blood glucose at home
According to many specialists, “A stable diabetic dog should have a blood glucose range of about 90-216 mg/dl for most of a 24 hour period.”
Your veterinary surgeon may ask if you are prepared to monitor blood glucose levels at home. This can be done in two ways and your veterinary surgeon will discuss the best option with you.
1. Blood test strips similar to those used for testing urine can be used.
2. A handheld glucose meter can be used. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise you on what model best suits you and your dog’s needs.
Collecting and testing a blood sample
During home monitoring, blood is usually collected from the earflap (pinna) of your dog.
1. Make sure that your dog’s ear is warm. If not, hold it between your hands for about one minute. Warming the earflap makes collecting a drop of blood easier.
2. Quickly prick a clean, hairless part of the ear with a sterile hypodermic needle or lancet.
3. A small drop of blood will appear. Collect the drop onto the glucose test strip.
4. Gently but firmly press some cottonwool onto your pet’s ear until it stops bleeding.
5. Read the test strip or insert the sample into the glucometer as instructed.
DOGS AND CATS CAN’T TEST THEMSELVES. TREAT YOUR PETS LIKE FAMILY!
Just don’t overdue the treats…