Just like humans, dogs and cats can develop diabetes, too. The incidence of canine diabetes is one out of every ten dogs worldwide. Diabetes affects one out of every 100 cats-approximately 800,000 cats in the United States. This is an epidemic and a major health risk to our furry friends.
By far the most common diabetes is type 2, where certain cells of the pancreas don’t produce enough insulin or muscle cells resist insulin’s help to take in glucose. Here are some of the risk factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes:
Breed: While mixed breed dogs are still susceptible (especially if overweight), purebred dogs that are prone to diabetes include golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, beagles, poodles and schnauzers
Age: Animals most often develop diabetes during middle or old age
Gender: Female dogs and neutered male dogs
Weight: Physical inactivity and high fat/carbohydrate diets that lead to obesity
Medical Conditions: pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, infections
Medications: chronic steroid use
Diabetes is sometimes discovered by your pet’s veterinarian through routine bloodwork. Other times pet owners will notice small behavioral changes such as greater than normal hunger/thirst, weight loss and frequent urination (sometimes in the house). If you notice these signs you’ll want to take your pet to your veterinarian to be examined.
While there is no “cure,” pets afflicted with type 2 diabetes can be managed and live longer, happier lives thanks to the treatment available. Your veterinarian can design a treatment plan which may include dietary changes for weight loss, insulin shots once or twice a day and glucose monitoring at home.