Did you know that Diabetes mellitus in a fairly common condition in dogs and cats and that as many as one in 200 pets may suffer from the condition?
Pets get most of their energy from carbohydrates which are broken down into glucose in the intestines. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream where it travels to cells throughout the body, supplying them with energy.
In healthy pets, insulin (produced by the pancreas) allows glucose in the blood to enter the cells, enabling the body to function properly.
In diabetic pets, there may either be:
- Lack of insulin production or
- Failure of the body cells to respond properly to the insulin
Either way, this results in too little glucose getting into the cells and excess glucose in the bloodstream. This excess glucose is filtered out by the kidneys and starts appearing in the urine. The presence of glucose in the urine draws more water into the urine, so larger volumes of urine are produced which needs to be replaced with excessing drinking.
Affected pets can show a range of symptoms, but common ones are:
- Excess thirst / frequent urination
- Weight loss despite increased appetite (always being hungry)
- Tiredness and lethargy
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, you should contact your vet for an all-over-health check. Diabetes can usually be confirmed by a finding of glucose in the urine and a blood glucose concentration that is consistently higher than normal. Your vet will also rule out a range of other causes of excessive drinking in pets, such as kidney disease.
The good news is that although there is no cure for diabetes, the disease can usually be well managed with the help of daily insulin injections, specially formulated diets and (in dogs) carefully regulated levels of exercise.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. w: www.hillsidevets.co.uk.
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