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How to spot if your pet has diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus is a condition caused by a lack of the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by your pet’s pancreas – if they don’t have enough, their blood glucose levels will rise.

This means their body will not be able to use glucose as an efficient source of energy and will instead start to breakdown important fats.

What are the signs of diabetes in pets?

The most common clinical signs seen in diabetic dogs and cats are:

  • Increased urination – increased blood glucose levels mean that glucose spills over into the urine drawing water with it, creating a larger volume of urine
  • Increased thirst – to compensate for the water that is being lost through increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite – not always present, but very noticeable in some dogs and cats

How is pet diabetes treated?

If your dog or cat is diabetic, you can treat them with an insulin injection, usually once or twice per day. Keep their day to day routines, feeding, activity, and body weight as constant as possible to minimise fluctuations in insulin.

Once a diabetic pet is stable, their dose of insulin may still need to be adjusted occasionally – only do this in consultation with your vet.

Your vet will want to monitor your diabetic pet. From time to time they will:

  • Check blood samples to look at blood glucose and fructosamine
  • Check the weight of your pet
  • Check urine samples for glucose and ketones (which are used as an alternative source of energy during diabetes)
  • Check the general health of your pet

It’s a good idea to discuss costs with your vet before starting treatment.

To help you and your vet manage the diabetes, keep a daily diary of your pet’s condition. Looking at the trends and changes can be extremely helpful in managing their diabetes.

How do I manage my pet’s diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that will need daily management – unfortunately there’s no cure.

Some dogs and cats can have transient diabetes, where the condition goes into remission. This sometimes happens when a pet loses excess weight and their body produces its own insulin again. If this happens to your pet you should monitor the situation closely – diabetes can reoccur at any time.

If you’re thinking of adopting a pet with diabetes

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new pet and ask for more details on how the diabetes has been treated.  You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any pet who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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