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If your pet was recently diagnosed with diabetes, you may have a lot of questions and your veterinarian is your best resource for answers. After receiving the diagnosis, you were probably educated about a treatment plan and follow up testing. With all this new information, it is common to feel overwhelmed and have a lot of questions.

Here are some of the questions that we often hear at our office regarding newly diagnosed diabetics:

Is this like human diabetes?  Diabetes in your pet is, in some ways like human diabetes and in some ways it is not. There are different types of diabetes. In domestic dogs and cats we are generally referring to diabetes mellitus, which humans can also have. However, the disease is slightly different in pets than in humans.

Can you cure my pet or will he need insulin forever? While there is no cure for diabetes, with proper management, we can help your pet live a long and happy life. In some feline patients, we are occasionally able to achieve diabetes remission, which means they are not dependent on insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Is there a pill instead of injections?  Oral hypoglycemics (drugs that lower blood sugar) are available, but work poorly and are not generally recommended for the management of diabetes.

Why is my pet on a certain type of insulin? There are many different types of insulin, and they vary in regard to their source, how quickly they work, the length of time they have an effect, the price and also availability on the market. Your vet will take all of these factors into consideration when making a treatment plan with insulin therapy for your pet.

How important is diet in controlling blood sugar? Diet plays an important role in maintaining your pet’s blood sugar and in some feline cases can help maintain remission. Please, follow the recommendation from your vet.

Is there anything I could have done to prevent my pet from becoming diabetic? Maybe. Being obese (severely overweight) can make your pet more likely to develop diabetes. This is another reason why keeping your pet at a healthy weight is strongly recommended.

Can my other pet catch diabetes? No. Diabetes is not contagious between pets.

How important is it that the insulin is given exactly 12 hours apart? What if my schedule does not allow for this?  While consistency is important, we understand the challenges that dosing can present so do the best you can and be honest about any struggles you are facing.

Is this expensive? Owning a diabetic pet can become expensive. The most costly part of treating a diabetic pet is often the first few weeks after diagnosis, while trying to determine the appropriate dose of insulin for your pet. During these first few weeks we often see your pet back for physical examinations and lab work. However after stabilization, some diabetic patients only require visits twice yearly. It is important to remember that treatment will likely be lifelong and even with perfect management many diabetics will experience a complication at some point.

What are the complications of diabetes? Complications associated with diabetes can range from serious and life-threatening (such as DKA – diabetic ketoacidosis) to mild (polyuria – increased urination). Common complications include increased susceptibility to infections (especially urinary tract infections) and cataract formation.

If my pet is urinating more than normal, should I just increase his insulin? No! Increased urination is one sign of high blood sugar, but it is also a common clinical sign seen with urinary tract infections (which are common in diabetics) and many other diseases. Changing your pet’s insulin dose without consulting your veterinarian is never a good idea!

If you have more questions about your pet’s diabetes, just ask us! We are happy to answer them!

Dr. Amanda Theodore GVH Veterinarian

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