Saturday, July 5, 2008

Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

While most of us commonly associate diabetes as being a human problem, it is becoming more and more common in dogs and cats. In fact, the most recent numbers show that as many as 1 in every 400 cats has the disease, and that figure is growing all the time. With the numbers for dogs being very similar, it seems as that diabetes is now a worry in our vet’s office as well as our doctor’s office. If you are in the dark about this increasingly common issue, then read on while we shed some light on the subject.

Our cats and dogs can develop the very same Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes that we can. Most dogs are affected by Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes, and generally have an earlier onset of the disease. While cats can be diagnosed with Type 1 they are much more likely to have the Type 2 form of diabetes. This is the type most commonly associated with obesity in humans. It is rare for a cat to develop diabetes any younger than the age of seven, but, like we pointed out, the disease tends to manifest earlier in dogs.

Overall the symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats are very similar to those found in human patients. You are watching for a sudden change in weight or appetite, either increased or decreased. The animal might start drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating frequently. If it is a cat, they tend to become obsessed with water, hanging around faucets or sinks. Cats sometimes develop weakness in their back legs, and may start walking much slower. Dogs develop vision problems. This can range from blurred vision, to cataracts, to a sudden onset of blindness.

If you think your pet is affected by this condition then head to your vets office. Just like in humans a simple blood or urine test can determine whether or not your pet has diabetes. The blood test measures the amount of sugar in your pet’s blood, while the urine test looks for glucose. If the sugar is high in either scenario, your pet has diabetes. Luckily if you catch it early and follow the treatment set up by your vet, then your pet still has a great shot at leading a full life.

The first step in treating diabetes in dogs and cats is to set up a proper diet. For cats this means going low carb. Since most cats develop Type 2 diabetes, there is a chance that a strict low carbohydrate diet can put the disease into remission. Dogs are usually put on a high fiber diet with a moderate level of carbohydrates. However, some dogs are left on a regular healthy diet but given a short acting oral insulin at meal times. This is called an insulin bolus supplement.

There are oral medications out there, but they are not commonly used in today’s environment. Mostly because studies are showing that these medications may actually do more harm to the pancreas then has already taken place. Since dogs are generally Type 1, pills are not usually an option for them. And since it is easier to give a cat an injection than it is to give them a pill, it makes more sense to go with the more reliable form of medication.

The most common form of treatment for diabetes in dogs and cats is injectable insulin. The treatment regimen may be slightly different between the species, but the basics are the same. For cats the usual course of treatment includes two doses of long acting insulin given throughout the day combined with a low carbohydrate diet. It is not recommended to only inject them once a day because their metabolism is so fast. For example, if the medication will last 12 hours in a human, it will only last 6 hours in their cat. This means you have to go with double the doses to have the same effect.

Dogs can be on the same regimen with their high fiber and moderate carbohydrate, or it can vary slightly. Some dogs seem to do better with long acting injections either once or twice a day with a short acting agent given before meals. In both species you may have to try a few different brands before you find the right fit. Just like with humans, you have to find what works best with their individual body chemistry in order to achieve success.

Now that we have covered the more common prescription treatment methods, it is important to point out that more and more pet owners are finding real success in natural treatment methods. With a condition like diabetes it is very important to exhaust all your options before making a final treatment decision, this cannot be done with out first considering natural cures. Some pet owners have even managed to put their pet’s diabetes into remission using nothing more than a healthy diet and natural supplements. Long-term exposure to any chemical can have negative results in both pets and humans. If it is possible to minimize this exposure or even eliminate it completely then it is worth at least looking into.

Finding out that your dog or cat has diabetes can be a scary thing, but it is not the end of the world. Find a vet that you trust and like and then work with them on your pet’s treatment. If you can get control of the disease early then chances are very good that your pet can still live a full life with you. You just have to be willing to take the time to learn about what it is that they need. Natural treatment options like

PetAlive Natural Remedies for Pets

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