Symptoms of Diabetes
An affected animal will be hungry a lot of the time. Since glucose is not making it to the brain, the levels are too low for the brain to register that it is receiving food. You’ll see an increase in appetite, yet your pet will continue to lose weight because the nutrients in her food are not staying in her body. With glucose constantly leaving the body, she will be tired and unable to exercise or play. There is also increased thirst as a result of an upsurge in urine output while the body attempts to rid itself of the excess insulin.
The liver can also be adversely affected by this condition, as can the eyes and kidneys. Many animals with chronic and/or untreated diabetes will develop cataracts in their eyes and eventually go blind. They may also develop chronic kidney disease.
Veterinary Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to make a complete diagnosis, your veterinarian will take detailed a medical history from you about your pet’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. The vet will also want details of the exact symptoms, including an estimation of daily urination times and amounts. Standard tests commonly include a complete blood count, chemical profile, and urinalysis. These tests should be sufficient for diagnosis and initial treatment.
Typically, with diabetes, an unusually high concentration of glucose will be found in your pet’s blood and urine. Abnormally high levels of liver enzymes and electrolyte imbalances are also common. Urine test results may also show evidence of abnormally high levels of ketone bodies – water-soluble compounds produced as a by-product of fatty acid metabolism in the liver and kidney. A numbers of other abnormalities may also be found.
The course of treatment for both cats and dogs typically includes…
- Daily exercise using walks, runs or play therapy.
- Gradual weight loss through increased physical activity and lowered caloric and carbohydrate intake.
- Veterinary dietary management plans for all foods and treats. Dr. Spector recommends feeding cats “a canned, high protein, low carbohydrate food twice daily.” The veterinarians at WebMD suggest giving a high-fiber veterinary diet designed to normalize blood glucose levels.
- Determination and tracking of daily blood glucose levels.
- Daily insulin injections depending on the size, age, gender and weight of the affected animal. The insulin dosage may need to be adjusted as blood glucose levels sometime vary from day to day.
If left untreated, diabetes can lead to cataracts, growing weakness in the legs, malnutrition, vomiting, dehydration, and the development of ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a metabolic process where fats and proteins in your pet’s liver are broken down to serve as sources of energy not being supplied by necessary glucose. This leads to chronic liver disease, and eventually liver failure and death.
Prognosis of Pet Diabetes
Unfortunately, diabetes is not a disease that can be cured, but your pet’s health can be kept stable and she can go on to live a fully enjoyable life. This will be dependent on your willingness to adhere to your veterinarian’s dietary recommendations and suggested insulin protocol. The best preventive from complications is practicing careful maintenance at home with your animal’s best life in mind.