There is a growing epidemic of diabetes in dogs and cats. The reasons are varied and include: pets being overweight, pets eating foods high in carbs and sugars and pets who aren’t getting enough exercise. If pet parents, and/or the dog or cat’s veterinarian recognize the early warning signs, the pet will have a better chance at a healthy, long life.
Dogs and cats can live with diabetes. It may require the pet parent to check the dog or cat’s blood sugar regularly. Dogs and cats with diabetes may also need insulin injections – this would be something the pet parent would need to commit to – just as a human with diabetes must.
Here are some of the early warning signs of diabetes in dogs and cats:
- Increased thirst. If you notice your dog drinking more than he normally does, track of the amount of water he’s drinking (write it down) then call your vet to see if it’s something to worry about.
- Increased urination. We know – if your dog is drinking more, she will be urinating more, but if you see a connection between drinking and urination, let your vet know. In some cases, a dog or cat in the early stages of diabetes simply may not be able to “hold it” and may have accidents in the house.
- Eating more than usual. If your dog has always been a slow eater or a picky eater and now he is suddenly acting like he hasn’t eaten a meal in weeks, this is a potential warning sign.
- Unexplained weight loss. Pets with diabetes, even those who are eating more, may experience sudden weight loss because of an imbalance in his metabolism.
- Weight gain. Your pet’s weight may be one of the underlying causes of his having diabetes. If your pet is gaining weight and you’re not increasing her food intake, make note of this.
- Sleeping more often and showing signs of weakness. You know your dog or cat best and if you notice he’s not his normal self and seems fatigued or too weak to jump up on the bed, go for a walk or climb the stairs, this is something you want to discuss with your veterinarian.
- Other physical ailments. If your dog has cloudy eyes or cataracts, this could be a symptom of diabetes. Hair loss is another, but hair loss could also have other underlying causes ranging from dietary to allergy reasons.
- Vomiting or depression. Again, you are with your pet every day and would likely notice if she’s lethargic or not interested in going for walks or playing with toys – these could be signs of depression. Vomiting for no reason that you can determine or vomiting more often than usual could be cause for concern. Ketoacidosis is a symptom of diabetes in humans and pets and this could be the cause of the vomiting or depression. Ketoacidosis is caused by the breakdown of fat and proteins in the liver in response to the dog or cat’s insulin deficiency. Ketones can be toxic and can also lead to depression in your pet.
Your dog or cat can live with diabetes as long as it’s caught early (before too much damage occurs) and as long as you’re diligent in caring for your dog or cat who has been diagnosed.
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
Robbi Hess is a full-time pet blogger and multi-published author. She shares her life with a diva Poodle, a goofy Goldendoodle, two Devon Rex, a senior ginger kitty and three reptiles!