Obesity is just as serious a health issue for pets as it is for their owners.

Obesity is just as serious an health issue for pets as it can be for their owners.

One of the unfortunate results of having high percentages of obese domestic pets in America, is that many of these animals develop diabetes. When the body does not produce enough insulin, the cells become glucose deficient and the blood glucose rises to an unhealthy level. Both cats and dogs can be diagnosed with this insulin deficiency, due to genetics, obesity, autoimmune disease, pancreatic diseases, and even the use of some medications, etc. Dogs most often have diabetes mellitus (or “sugar diabetes”) due to an insufficient insulin production of the pancreas, while cats tend to become diabetic because of obesity. Dogs suffer from type 1 diabetes, while roughly 85% of cats struggle with type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options available that allow for felines and canines to enjoy a relatively normal life in spite of their health problems. Learn to recognize the symptoms of diabetes, and how this disease can be treated and avoided.

Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Dehydration
  • Thirst and increased water drinking
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy/Exhaustion
  • Unusual eating patterns (increased portions, but still losing weight)
  • Frequent urination
  • Sweet or fruity-smelling breath
  • UTIs

Methods of Treating Diabetes

  • Insulin: Like humans, cats and dogs benefit from regular injections of the very thing their body lacks: insulin. These may be administered twice daily, at consistent times. This disables blood sugar levels from dropping drastically or soaring too high, and helps regulate the pet’s body. In order to determine the kind of care, medicine or insulin dosage your pet needs, take them to the vet as soon as the symptoms have been noted.
  • Medications (Oral): Some veterinarians prescribe hypoglycemic medications in the form of oral pills that will effectively lower blood glucose. These can sometimes be accompanied by unpleasant side effects, and are therefore not as popular as basic insulin injections.
  • Diet control: Insulin levels are greatly affected by obesity, so lowering your pet’s weight will be an important aspect of treatment. Removing a cat or dog’s accessibility to food (such as constantly-refilling pet food bowls) may contribute to the problem. Help fight diabetes by feeding your pet at the same times each day, by cutting your pet’s portion size, and limiting the amount of carbs he consumes.
  • Be prepared: Giving your pets insulin shots might cause the blood sugar levels to sink too low, resulting in hypoglycemia. If this is the case, be sure to keep a sweet treat handy to help your cat or dog get on track. Something as simple as a spoonful of honey or Karo syrup rubbed on their tongue or their gums will help stabilize the blood sugar levels until you can get to the vet.

Preventing Diabetes:
Though some types of diabetes are inherited, the onset of this disease can usually be combatted through eating a balanced diet and providing your pet with frequent exercise. Supply your dog or cat with precisely measured portions of food, and make sure the product is high in protein and fiber. High fiber foods help to stabilize the rate at which fuels enter the body’s cells, allowing blood sugar levels to stay constant. Try to engage your pet in cardio exercises, whether it is chasing a robotic mouse, or regularly going for a brisk walk. Helping to increase the animal’s level of fitness will fortify them and ward off obesity and organ complications. The best way to keep your pet healthy is to manage the duet and keep those paws moving! Work with your vet to monitor your dog or cat’s health as you continue to treat this disease. Insulin requirements can fluctuate, meaning you will have to pay close attention to how your pet is behaving or responding to the injections over time. Many pet owners conclude that regulating insulin levels from home is the most accurate and economical long-term option. When in doubt, always discuss potential treatment options with your vet to find the best solution for your and your furry friend.