Pets Are Also Highly Susceptible to Diabetes
Diabetes in pets, just like in humans, occurs more when they are older, and pets are nearly as likely to get diabetes as humans are. Diagnosis for pets, though, is not as clear-cut as for humans. Many pets really can’t tell you that they are always thirsty, which is one of the symptoms. They also can’t tell you that they are having any specific problems, such as a person saying that they feel dizzy when they have a sugar spike or drop.
We all know that it is likely pets won’t exhibit any real signs that they are sick until it’s almost too late, but diabetes affects pets almost identically to how it affects humans. You see, diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce insulin, which burns the sugars gained from foods to produce energy for the body. When this happens, blood sugars become too high. Over time, in pets as in humans, these higher sugar levels can cause serious complications such as weakness, dehydration, sudden blindness along with a host of other problems associated with internal organs and nerve damage.
In humans, the number one risk factor for diabetes is obesity. Greater weight consequently leads to a higher risk of insulin resistance due to the fact that fat interferes with the ability of the body to use insulin. This identical situation has been found in pets.
As for symptoms, as mentioned, they can easily be overlooked in pets until they are quite advanced. The first thing that most owners notice is increased thirst and urination. Diabetic pets can actually eat well but lose weight. Diabetic pets are also more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections such as chronic infections of the skin and bladder as well as pneumonia. The only plus, really, is that the kidney damage so prevalent in diabetic humans occurs less frequently in pets. Studies indicate that this could be because a pet’s life span is shorter.
Animals that have diabetes can benefit from the same treatments given to humans. People with diabetes need to change their diets and either take pills or injections to control diabetes. Diabetic pets will also need to have their diets changed and take medicines. Some cats can react positively to oral diabetic medications instead of insulin injections but for dogs, injections are more predominantly used. Since food is a very important factor in the control of diabetes, your veterinarian can recommend a specific diet and feeding regime. Also, your veterinarian can recommend an exercise program to help your pet lose weight in an effort to control diabetes further.
Cats who develop diabetes can sometimes regain the ability to produce insulin but diabetes is rarely reversible in dogs. Dogs will require lifelong, intensive treatment, as in humans.
Many of the testing materials and treatments that are used on humans can be used for pets. Knowledge is important to be able to take care of yourself, if you have diabetes, just as it is in caring for pets. Pay attention for symptoms and signs of possible diabetes in your pet. Also, when you take your pet for their yearly checkups, ask your veterinarian to start diabetes testing as a precautionary measure.
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