Common Questions About Diabetes in My Pet

Common Questions About Diabetes in My Pet

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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

Fit and Fun in the New Year

Fit and Fun in the New Year

The New Year is approaching and many people make the resolution to get healthier through diet, exercise, and eating healthy. This New Year’s resolution doesn’t need to be just for us humans – now is the time for your pet to begin a new year with their best paw forward.

Pet obesity is on the rise.  It is estimated that over half of all companion animals are either over weight or obese. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body leading to daily discomfort and possibly shortening their life.

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Obesity is a serious health issue and can lead to a number of long term problems for your pet, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Liver disease
  • Joint and bone issues
  • Breathing issues

It is easier and cheaper to prevent health problems rather than treating all the significant health problems that can arise from a pet being overweight or obese.

Dietary Changes:

When starting your pet on a diet it is best to schedule an appointment to consult with your veterinarian to formulate a weight loss program balanced with good nutrition, portion control, and exercise and play.  Your Veterinarian can help set a realistic goal for your pet depending on current health issues and degree of obesity. He or she may be able to recommend a specific diet that is formulated for weight loss and/or that can help treat health issues that your pet may have developed from being obese. You may be tempted to just reduce the amount of food you are feeding but, reducing the portion of your pet’s current food could also reduce the essential vitamins and nutrients your pet needs.

 Fit and Fun in the New Year Photo #1

Physical activities for dogs to promote weight loss:

Your veterinarian can also advise you on an exercise plan that will specifically benefit your pet’s age, weight and breed. One of the most effective ways for your pet to loose weight is with exercise. Daily brisk walks thru your neighborhood are not only beneficial for your dog but also for you. As you see your dog being able to participate in your daily walks with less exertion you can increase the intensity of your walk or exercise.  You can also take your dog for a walk thru the woods, play fetch or do dog agility exercises at the local park. For dogs built for running, go for a jog around the neighborhood or a local park. Physical activity is a main component to help your dog become fit and trim. Not only does it lead to weight loss but helps to keep joints and muscles healthy.

 Physical activities for your cat to promote weight loss:

Getting your cat to exercise daily may seem like a silly idea. But, with some participation on your part it can be a fun, rewarding time for you and your pet. Cats enjoy anything that moves. There are many wonderful cat toys that promote movement including, bells that jingle, teaser wands, and motion cat toys. Cats are sedentary creatures. They will always choose lying in a sunny spot over actively finding a toy to play with. This is why it is important for you to find the time your cat is most active and engage them in physical activity at that time.

Helping your pet to become fit and active in the New Year can be achieved with a few simple life changes:

  • Daily exercise
  • Eliminating all treats
  • Have fun, safe toys available for your pet to engage in physical activity on their own
  • Monitor weight loss frequently, once a month.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your veterinarian so you can work together for the best results for your pet.

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– Meghan, GVH Veterinary Technician

National Pet Diabetes Month – George 1 Year Later…

National Pet Diabetes Month – George 1 Year Later…

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November is National Pet Diabetes month and I wanted to share the continuing story about George, my diabetic cat. George is a happy and healthy 12-year old, tuxedo kitty who is living successfully with diabetes. I like to think he is living a life fit for a king.

 

Since George was diagnosed with diabetes, he receives 1 unit of insulin twice a day with a ¼ cup of high protein food and is encouraged to play often. Because George’s three small, human housemates are now in kindergarten and the other has returned to school, George and I have more time to play together and this has helped him to loose another quarter pound in the last two months. He continues to enjoy throwing his stuffed penguin but, also has “adopted” two small, stuffed dolls which he found in the twins toy box. George still enjoys his solitary life sleeping in my room away from the other human and kitty occupants of the house and everyone respects his need to be alone.

Meg&George

 

In October, George came in for his 6 month senior wellness examination and blood work. After much nervousness, some meows of sadness and the kindness of everyone working that day, George was given a clean bill of health and given vaccinations. The following day, George’s blood work returned and we were all happy to find that his numbers were all in normal range for a diabetic kitty. George and I were advised to continue with all the healthy life changes to keep him living successfully with diabetes.

 

A perfect wellness exam and blood work would have been an accomplishment to celebrate with extra treats but that is what got us where we are today. So, extra snuggle time with mom, head scratches, and kitty talk were given after everyone else went to bed. It is important to remember that that extra food does not equal love. Snuggles, head scratches, and quality time is what is most important for you and your pet’s health.

 

– Meghan, Veterinary Technician

George

George

Meg&GeorgeGeorge found me 11 years ago as a tiny, malnourished, black and white ball of fur hiding under the bushes at my son’s babysitter. I have always had a special place for tuxedo kitties – so I knew right away George would be joining my family of kitties. As the weeks went by George never seemed to fit in with everyone else. He would hide during the day and only come out after everyone else went to bed. Feeling badly for George, I started a bad habit of feeding him extra treats and extra meals later at night. I thought I was showing him extra love, but what I was really doing was setting him up for health issues, mainly Diabetes.

In the spring of 2011, I noted that one of the kitties in my house was drinking a lot and the litter boxes were saturated with urine clumps. I separated all 5 cats to their own room for the day with a litter box and bowl of water to find who needed a visit to Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital. By lunch time I had my answer – George!! I took George into work with me the next day and Dr. Kulig did a complete physical and ran senior bloodwork. After his examination, George was found to be 19 pounds, had harsh lung sounds due to his weight, and his blood glucose was elevated. I had a diabetic cat!! George was placed on insulin and a special diet high in protein. I was also advised to try to get him to loose some weight thru diet and exercise, monitor his blood glucose levels, and to keep him on a strict schedule of insulin administration and food.

Now two years later, a normal day for George and I starts early at 6 am, when he is given a ¼ a cup of food and 1 unit of insulin. George does not mind the injections and loves his yummy food. After breakfast George will go back to his sleeping spot under my bed. Later in the morning after everyone else has left for school and work and the other kitties have taken their spots in the sun for the day, I will encourage George to come out and have some play time with me. He enjoys his stuffed penguin, which he bites and throws in the air, and loves to chase after golf balls rolled across the hardwood floor. We will play together for about an hour to encourage physical activity and help keep his weight down. After a great play session George goes back to his sleeping spot under my bed or if he is feeling brave will find a sunny spot on the bed and take a well deserved nap. At around 6 pm, while our children are eating dinner, I will go and feed George and give him his evening shot. Most days are great and he is eager to eat but every once in a while I struggle to get him to eat even a quarter of his food. On days when I feel George is not acting like himself I will check his blood glucose with an at home monitor. I prick a small area on his ear to get the blood sample. On this day his glucose levels were normal. George was most likely just having an extra nervous day preventing him from eating well.

Life with a Diabetic kitty is sometimes not easy but most days it is just part of my normal schedule. Since being diagnosed in the spring of 2011, George has been able to lose 3 pounds. Every 6 months, he goes in for his check up and his blood glucose levels are checked.  Thankfully they have been in the normal range. George and I have learned an important lesson that food does not equal love.

-Meghan, Veterinary Technician

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