iStock_000011052942_Large.jpgOur nation’s adorable, loyal, and steadfast pet population is battling a formidable foe: obesity. In fact, over half of America’s companion animals are considered overweight, and while a chubby cat or pudgy pup can certainly elicit a smile or two, pet obesity is no laughing matter.

Aside from decreased quality of life, an obese pet can suffer from associated illnesses or disease, such as pet diabetes. This is a common diagnosis in an overweight or obese pet, but with your dedicated involvement and regular wellness visits, your pet’s fate may become much brighter.

Vague And Subtle At First

Pet diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, presents certain symptoms that may be subtle or even vague at first. However, if left alone and untreated, diabetes can cause serious, irreparable damage in an already ill animal. We highly recommend that you give us a call when your pet displays any of the following tell-tale signs of pet diabetes, as he or she may need emergency care:

  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst and water intake
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss even when eating more
  • Eye issues, such as cataracts
  • Ascending urinary tract infections
  • What Causes The Symptoms?

    Made after your pet eats a meal or snack, glucose is an energy source that is required by all of the internal organs and tissues. Glucose travels throughout your pet’s body by virtue of the circulating hormone called insulin. In diabetes mellitus, the pancreas fails to secrete a sufficient amount of insulin, and glucose doesn’t get to where it needs to go. Instead, the glucose remains in high levels throughout the bloodstream and only leaves the body in urine.

    Breaking It Down

    There are two different types of pet diabetes, and diagnostic screening can help us determine which is affecting your pet.

  • Type I Diabetes Mellitus – Also known as insulin-dependent pet diabetes, type I requires regular insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Type II Diabetes Mellitus – This is diagnosed when a pet still has some insulin-producing cells. Either there is a delayed secretion response, or there are insufficient levels. Insulin resistance is also associated with type II, and if your pet isn’t positively affected by the oral medication available, injections may be an option to control it.
  • The Link

    While we don’t know exactly what causes pet diabetes, the existing link between obesity and diabetes is one that we can control. It’s imperative to develop a strategy for weight loss that involves proper nutrition and regular aerobic exercise. We have our own guide to fall fitness ideas that can be adjusted for year round use.

    Managing Pet Diabetes

    It’s important to remember that diabetes is chronic; however, your pet can continue to have a satisfying, comfortable, and healthful life. With diet changes, glucose-controlling medication, and possible eventual insulin injections, your pet can regain a certain level of vitality and health.

    Looking Ahead

    The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital are committed to the prevention of pet diabetes and the effective treatment and care of overweight and obese pets. The prevalence of overweight cats and dogs requires as many preventative measures possible, and we’re here to help that endeavor. Please call us with any questions or concerns; we look forward to talking with you!