Diabetes and Your Pet: What You Should Know

Dr. ChihuahuaDiabetes mellitus is a disease caused by a deficiency of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and is necessary for body tissues to use blood sugar. Without insulin, sugar remains in the blood and eventually passes into the urine. This causes increased urine production and thirst. Hunger increases because the body cannot use the sugar in the blood. As the disease progresses, chemicals called ketones accumulate, resulting in vomiting and dehydration. Eventually coma and then death occur in untreated animals.

Diabetes is not a curable disease, but with proper insulin administration, this disease can be controlled.

Blood and urine sugar must be monitored very carefully until your pet’s condition is stabilized. Once your pet’s insulin requirements are determined and blood-sugar levels are stabilized, only urine sugar needs to be monitored.

Diet and exercise play important parts in managing your pet’s diabetes. Your pet should eat a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Exercise decreases the need for insulin. For proper regulation, the amount of daily exercise should be kept consistent.

During a diabetic pet’s maintenance therapy, there can be episodes when the body is getting too much insulin and the blood-sugar drops too low. This can happen at times of stress or when there has not been enough food intake to counteract the effects of the insulin. When this happens, your pet may become groggy, listless, cold, uncoordinated, or possibly unconscious. If this should occur, and your pet is conscious, immediately offer food. If your pet will not eat, repeatedly rub Karo syrup or honey on your pet’s gums. Swallowing is not necessary as the sugars are absorbed directly through the mucous membranes in the mouth. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Hormones present during “heat” and pregnancy antagonize the effects of insulin. Diabetic females should be spayed as soon as their insulin levels are regulated.

During the early weeks of treatment, several medical progress examinations may be necessary with your veterinarian. Call your doctor when questions or problems arise. Make sure you fully understand all aspects of your pet’s home care.

Notify your veterinarian if any of the following occur:

  • You cannot give the insulin as directed, or urine-sugar levels increase.
  • Your pet’s thirst and urination increase.
  • Your pet has diarrhea or vomits.
  • Your pet acts weak or depressed.
  • Your pet has repeated bouts of low blood-sugar.

November is National Pet Diabetes Month. To learn more about this disease, visit www.petdiabetesmonth.com or call us at 317-257-5334.

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