Keeping your pet healthy and active is one of your key responsibilities now that you are the owner of a furry new family member. It is also one of the best ways that you can prevent your pet from suffering from diabetes, a chronic health condition that requires careful management.
About pet diabetes
When your pet eats, her body converts the carbohydrates in her food into different sugars, including one called glucose. Once absorbed from the intestines, glucose goes into her blood and provides energy to her cells. However, the intake of glucose into these cells is dependent on a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas.
Diabetes occurs when your pet’s body can no longer make enough insulin, or the cells in her body don’t respond properly to the insulin levels already present. This leads to an inability of the cells to absorb enough glucose and overly high glucose levels in her blood.
Many new pet parents are surprised to learn that diabetes is not just a human condition. In fact, more domestic animals now have diabetes than ever before – something which many veterinarians attribute to our pet’s lifestyles mirroring our own. Poor nutritional choices, too many fatty, sugary and processed foods and not enough exercise are common factors causing both human and pet obesity, and obesity is the leading cause of diabetes today.
Nevertheless, there are also several other factors that are considered contributory to the development of diabetes, including taking certain medications, having an autoimmune disorder and suffering from pancreatitis.
Symptoms of pet diabetes
Animals are very good at hiding when they feel unwell as they don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable. Nevertheless, there are indicators to look out for that could suggest that your pet is developing diabetes. These include:
- Dehydration (dark-colored urine)
- Increased thirst
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss
- Sweet-scented breath
- Skin infections
- Visual disturbances/vision problems
- Urinary tract infections
If you notice that your pet has some of the symptoms listed above, you should get her checked out by our veterinarian at Soundside Animal Hospital as she could have diabetes.
Preventing pet diabetes
Although there is no guarantee that your pet won’t develop diabetes at some point in the future, there are some things that you can do to significantly reduce her risk of suffering from the condition.
Watch her weight
As we said previously, obesity is the leading cause of diabetes in both humans and our beloved pets. This is because excess weight leads to a range of health problems including high blood pressure, arthritis and even heart disease. Managing your pet’s weight is the single most important thing that you can do to keep her healthy.
Ensure that she is fed high-quality, fresh food that meets the nutritional requirements of her breed, size and age. Older pets, babies and those with specific health conditions already may need even more specific diets to support their wellbeing. Make sure you offer specific portion-sized meals at set times of the day, rather than free feeding. Free feeding and topping up her food bowl throughout the day means you never quite know how much she is eating! Avoid giving her too many snacks, particularly sweet or fatty human foods, particularly as these are often given in addition to her usual daily diet.
Give her sufficient exercise
Exercise is another key component to keeping your pet health and should be incorporated into your daily routine. If the weather isn’t good enough to get outdoors, or you have an indoor pet, get creative with games and activities that will increase her heart rate as well as keeping her brain active and stop her from getting bored.
If you have a female, get her spayed
Spaying and neutering is a responsible step towards reducing the overpopulation of unwanted animals currently living in shelters in the U.S. today and should be a priority for any animal lover. However, if you needed more persuasion, some research has shown that females who remain unsprayed are more likely to suffer with diabetes – as well as some other health problems including female cancers and uterine diseases. Get her spayed as soon as she is old enough to help keep her safe and healthy.
Diabetes may be a chronic health condition that could affect the wellness and longevity of your pet’s life, but it may also be prevented. If you have further questions about diabetes prevention and early detection testing, contact our vets in Navarre, FL and speak to one of our veterinarians.