A Scary Diagnosis? Managing Diabetes in Pets 

dog eating from bowl

In the United States, approximately 1 in 300 dogs and 1 in 231 cats have diabetes. Diabetes in pets is one of the most common conditions we see here at Harpeth Hills Veterinary Hospital.

A diagnosis of diabetes in pet might be overwhelming, but the good news is that with early detection and careful management, pets can still lead long and happy lives. 

What is Diabetes in Pets?

Normally, food is broken down into glucose after a pet eats. Insulin is secreted from the pancreas and facilitates the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. The cells can then use glucose for energy. 

Diabetes in pets occurs when either the body cannot produce insulin, or cannot use it properly. Instead of entering the cells, glucose remains in the bloodstream. High glucose levels in the blood can cause all manner of problems, from impairing kidney function, to causing cataracts, to impacting the nervous system. 

Is My Pet At Risk?

Diabetes is more likely to affect older pets, but younger pets are not immune. Some common risk factors for diabetes in pets are:

Early Detection is Key

As with all health conditions, early detection of diabetes in pets makes treatment more effective. Pets are very good at hiding signs of disease, but there are several hallmarks of diabetes in pets that you may readily notice:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Excessive urination
  • Weight loss, even with an increase in appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Change in grooming habits
  • Cloudy eyes

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please call us right away to schedule an appointment. 

Diagnosis Treatment of Diabetes in Pets

Diabetes in pets can easily be diagnosed with simple blood and urine tests. Once the diagnosis is confirmed your veterinarian will recommend an initial dose of insulin to be given at home daily. Our technicians will teach you how to give the injections, which are with a tiny needle and are usually well tolerated by pets. 

Managing Diabetes At Home

The key to managing a diabetic pet is to keep their blood sugar near normal levels and to avoid very high or low levels that can be life threatening

Successful management may include any or all of the following:

  • Diet changes
  • Daily exercise
  • Daily insulin injections
  • Regular blood and urine monitoring
  • Regular exams and assessments

With early detection, regular monitoring, and good management at home, pets can continue to lead happy lives for years to come. Our veterinarians and staff are dedicated to helping you manage your pet’s diabetes, and to answering any and all questions you may have.

Please let us know if you have any concerns or would like more information about diabetes in pets. We are here to help!