November is National Diabetes Month, originally intended to raise awareness among humans, but (like most things) has drifted into the pet realm. It’s important to know a few things about pet diabetes, primarily its prevention, symptoms, and treatments, so you are able to recognize and possibly correct a potentially deadly issue.
Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to process the body’s sugars properly. Just like in humans, pets can have Type I or Type II diabetes; Type I they’re born with (and is typically pretty rare), Type II is much more common and developed usually during mid- to late-life as a result of being overweight. We repeat: being overweight is the no. 1 cause of diabetes in pets. The good news is – having an overweight pet is totally preventable. But first, you may want to know the signs of pet diabetes:
- Excessive thirst and urination (Hint: this is usually the most obvious, and telling, sign)
- Weight loss, usually over the back, despite having an overweight body.
- Weakness and/or lethargy
- Increased whiteness or cloudiness in the eyes
- Increased appetite
- Poor skin
If you notice your pet exhibiting any of these behaviors repeatedly, it may be time to talk with your vet. It’s important to know that diabetes isn’t a death sentence – it’s certainly manageable with daily glucose monitoring and insulin shots, just like in humans. Of course, the best thing you can do is make sure they never acquire diabetes in the first place by feeding them a diet rich in protein and devoid of excess grains and carbs, which merely turn into unnecessary sugars in the body. Don’t forget that regular exercise plays a paramount role in their overall health, but it truly boils down to what goes in their bellies. If you have any questions about pet diabetes, talk with your veterinarian about ways to treat or prevent it that are tailored specifically to your pet.