November is National Diabetes Month for humans, but due to diabetes becoming more prevalent in domestic pets, we will consider this month a call to action for pet owners, as well.

Diabetes mellitus is the most common form of diabetes in pets, and it can be a difficult and deadly disease. Prevention is possible, and early detection and management are key.

How will you know if your pet is at risk for diabetes? Genetics certainly play a role, with some breeds being more predisposed. These breeds include Poodles, Bichons, Miniature Pinschers, Schnauzers, Samoyeds, Australian Terriers, and Siamese cats.

In reality, many mixed breed dogs are also afflicted with diabetes. Obesity is another important risk factor for developing diabetes, and almost all pets diagnosed with diabetes present to their veterinarian as overweight.

Symptoms of diabetes in your pet include a significant increase in the following:

  • Thirst
  • Urination
  • Appetite

Pet owners may also notice the following changes:

  • Urinary accidents in the house
  • More puddles of urine in the litterbox
  • Needing to refill the water bowl more often

Since there are other disease processes that can present these symptoms, your veterinarian will rely on a physical examination, bloodwork, and other tests to correctly diagnose. Most pets are middle-aged when they acquire diabetes. Either their body stops producing enough insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels), or the insulin produced is not effective.

Type 1 diabetes is most commonly seen in dogs, and requires lifelong insulin supplementation, usually in the form of twice daily injections under the skin. Cats more often have Type 2 diabetes, where insulin may still be made by the pancreas but is ineffective. Cats are also managed with daily insulin injections.

Another key component of diabetes management is the pet’s diet. A diet low in carbohydrates that is specially formulated for diabetic pets helps keep their blood sugar levels in an appropriate range throughout the day.

When it is not well-managed, diabetes can cause health complications as this disease will make your pet more prone to certain infections and metabolic consequences. Diabetes can be a frustrating disease for pet owners and requires a great deal of commitment, but if it is well-managed both owners and pets can still have good quality of life.

Want to learn more? Call us at (512) 288-1040 or come see us at Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital.

Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital
(512) 288-1040
Sarah Kneupper, DVM