Yes, like humans, your pet can suffer from diabetes. As a matter of fact, the risk of developing this disease is about the same for cats and dogs as it is with us: one in 500. Diabetes usually afflicts cats that are between 6 and 10, and adult and older dogs. Ask your vet if your pet is at risk.
Is diabetes the same in animals as it is in humans?
An animal’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin (or in some cases, none at all) to adequately allow for glucose present in the blood to transfer to the body’s cells. So what happens? When there is too much glucose in the blood, it is excreted in the urine and your pet becomes more and more thirsty. The more your pet drinks, the more they urinate. The more they eliminate the glucose that is so important for energy, the hungrier they get, the more they eat. Yet, they lose weight! You can start to see the vicious circle.
What are the signs of diabetes in your pet?
- They become more and more thirsty;
- They urinate excessively and sometimes even inappropriately;
- They eat like crazy, but they lose weight;
- They seem lethargic and their back legs seem weak;
- They don’t look right and their coat deteriorates;
- They get infections more easily;
- They seem to have vision problems.
That last sign, vision problems, is probably indicative of cataracts that eventually lead to blindness.
In terms of treating the diabetes, the goal is to provide the best quality of life possible, minimizing complications such as hypoglycaemia, and eliminating the symptoms you’ve already observed.
Your family vet might recommend regular insulin injections and a special diet, specially developed for your pet’s diabetes.