Expert: Pets with Diabetes Require Special Care from Owners

Expert: Pets with Diabetes Require Special Care from Owners

Pet owners who care for diabetic cats and dogs need to pay closer attention to their companion animal’s diet and activity level. Second to administering insulin injections, ensuring that pets follow a healthy lifestyle is essential to safeguarding the well-being of companion animals with insulin deficiency or resistance.

In an interview with FOX43's Amy Lutz, Dr. Bill Lewis of Lincoln Highway Vet Clinic shared how pet owners can provide diabetic pets with the care and treatment they need. He made it clear that just like humans, companion animals can suffer from diabetes and its complications.

“It’s very similar,” Dr. Lewis said. “You have the same potential. Genetics—that can play a factor—and obesity. Weight management is one of the biggest concerns that we have especially in cats.”

Diabetes Cases in Pets Expected to Rise

According to a 2018 report by Vetsource, it’s estimated that 1 in every 300 dogs and 1 in every 230 cats develop diabetes. These numbers are expected to rise by 80 percent in dogs and 18 percent in cats within the next decade.

Diabetes is characterized by one’s inability to control their blood glucose levels due to lack of or resistance to insulin. Without the intervention of insulin, glucose can’t reach the cells and the cells can’t turn the glucose into energy. This causes the body to release more glucose. Urine and blood tests are done to diagnose diabetes.

Some of the most common symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include frequent urination, excessive thirst and appetite, weight loss, cloudy eyes, and lethargy. The condition can also affect the gait of the pet.

Preventing and Treating Pet Diabetes

“It’s a two-fold scenario.” Dr. Lewis said of treating diabetes in companion animals. “Unfortunately, insulin is our primary treatment.”

Pet parents who have a hard time keeping up with their pet’s insulin injections, however, can focus on dietary management and weight loss. Dr. Lewis recalls that there are cases where dietary management led to some success in controlling diabetes.

A low-carbohydrate diet, for one, can be a part of a diabetic pet’s health regimen. Pet owners can use customized stainless steel bowls to control their pet’s food intake. Taking frequent walks using custom dog collars and engaging in active play can be a part of the pet’s weight management plan. Training using healthy pet treats can also help dogs and cats stay in shape.

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