What we need to know about our pets diabetes

Many will be familiar with diabetes in humans, but may not be aware that pets can also develop the condition – especially as the signs are not always obvious.

By Nigel Booth
Friday, 1st July 2022, 12:40 pm
Treating the symptoms of diabetes in pets (photo: Adobe)
Treating the symptoms of diabetes in pets (photo: Adobe)

Many of us will be familiar with diabetes in humans, but may not be aware that our pets can also develop the condition – especially as the signs aren’t always obvious.

It is very important to raise awareness for the millions of people – and pets – who are living with the condition.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Diabetes is a disease that develops when your pet's body can't produce enough insulin to control their blood sugar level, causing it to become dangerously high. It usually develops when the body attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, which can sometimes happen after pancreatitis. Obesity can also be a cause of diabetes in cats, and can make the condition harder to manage in dogs. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called ‘diabetic ketoacidosis’ (DKA).

Measuring a pets' glucose levels (photo: Adobe)

“Most well managed diabetic pets that respond to treatment can have long, happy lives. However, diabetes cannot be cured, so ongoing treatment and management of diet and exercise is needed. This does take commitment and hard work, and can cost a lot of money over your pet’s lifetime so please speak with your vet if you have any concerns about treating diabetes in your pet.

“Diabetes can be hard to spot so it’s important to know the symptoms. Like humans, one of the first major signs of diabetes in pets is drinking more than usual and, in turn, needing to urinate more often. You may also notice an increased appetite, regular vomiting, or that your pet seems under the weather and less energetic. Some of these symptoms may develop slowly over time, so it’s always important to monitor your furry friend – the earlier you spot any changes and contact your vet, the better.

“If your dog or cat is diagnosed with diabetes, your vet may prescribe once or twice daily insulin injections. They will demonstrate how to do this safely at home and can give any additional guidance you may need. Your vet may also advise introducing a controlled diet, which means feeding your pet specific types of food at the same times each day to help regulate their blood sugar levels.

“Alongside medical treatment, owners will need to take small steps after diagnosis to help our precious pets lead a fulfilling life. Diet and exercise are essential to any pet’s health and wellbeing, but this is especially important for dogs and cats with diabetes. Stick to a consistent feeding routine and avoid additional foods between meals as this can cause unpredictable changes in blood sugar. Replace extra treats with lots of fuss, play time and attention – they’ll appreciate this just as much as an unhealthy snack!

Pets may need an insulin injection to treat their diabetes (photo: Adobe)

"Replace extra treats with lots of fuss, play time and attention.”

For more check out PDSA’s #WeighUp campaign, with free access to expert advice on diet, exercise and wellbeing for your furry friend pdsa.org.uk/weighup-pr website.