(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
Like people, dogs and cats can suffer from diabetes. In fact, this disease is on the rise among dogs and cats. While a diagnosis of diabetes requires lifestyle changes and heightened health monitoring, your pet can still live a happy, healthy life when you work together with your veterinarian to provide proper care.
The 2016 State of Pet Health report from Banfield Pet Hospitals found the number of dogs with diabetes rose 80 percent from 2006-2015, while diabetes in cats increased by 18 percent. The report looked at data from more than 900 Banfield hospitals nationwide and covered 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats.
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body cannot process glucose (sugar) into cells, resulting in too much glucose in the blood and not enough glucose in the cells for energy.
Untreated, diabetes can be fatal in dogs and cats, but veterinary care and at-home blood glucose monitoring can help you manage the disease in your four-legged friends.
The first step is identifying warning signs. Certain risk factors may increase the chances of your pet getting diabetes. In both dogs and cats, these include age, obesity and breeds with a genetic predisposition. Dog breeds prone to diabetes include the Australian Terrier, Keeshond and Yorkshire Terrier; Burmese cats also have a genetic predisposition to diabetes.
Signs of diabetes in pets are often similar to those in humans and include fatigue or weakness, increased hunger, weight loss, increased thirst and increased urination. If you observe one or more of these signs, consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause.
If your veterinarian diagnoses diabetes, he will create a management plan that addresses your pet’s dietary and dental care needs. The plan may call for monitoring blood glucose levels and may also include a prescription for insulin.
The goal of pet diabetes management is to make pets feel better by controlling glucose levels and minimizing the risk of complications. Monitoring blood glucose is one way to assess the diabetes management plan. While veterinarians can test at the office, the American Association of Animal Hospitals notes that in-clinic blood glucose readings are more likely to be affected by stress than readings generated at home. Monitoring blood glucose at home helps you follow your veterinarian’s prescribed management plan while eliminating the pet’s stress over frequent veterinarian visits.
At-home monitoring systems for pets are different than at-home monitoring systems for humans and should not be used interchangeably. You actually can use the same at-home monitoring system that your veterinarian uses, such as AlphaTRAK 2, which is available through your veterinarian. Specifically calibrated for dogs and cats, it is easy to use and priced affordably to make at-home monitoring convenient and economical.
There are also a variety of free tools available designed to help pet owners manage their dog’s or cat’s diabetes. For example, diabeticpetconnection.com provides a veterinary discussion guide and emails with tips for pet owners. The PetDialog app, available for download on iTunes and in the Google Play Store, allows pet owners to quickly and easily report a diabetic pet’s blood glucose directly to their veterinarian.
Successful diabetes management is possible when you work together with your veterinarian to follow your pet’s prescribed plan, including at-home blood glucose monitoring, consistent communication and follow-up appointments. Visit AlphaTRAKmeter.com to learn more about diabetes management.
— Family Features
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)