There are a number of diseases that impact humans as well as our pets, and one that has become more common in the past few years is diabetes.
According to a recent study that included data from 43 states and 3 million cats and dogs, researchers saw an 80 percent increase in diabetes in dogs and an 18 percent increase in cats between 2006 and 2015.
Despite these numbers, the risk for diabetes in our pets depends on a number of factors, including age, diet, lack of exercise, and obesity. Diabetes in dogs and cats can occur at any age; the majority of dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 7-10, and for cats, older than six.
Signs of diabetes in pets include excessive thirst, increased urination, significant weight loss, decreased appetite, and a lack of energy. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. To accurately diagnose diabetes in your pet, a veterinarian will perform a blood test, looking for excessive sugar.
As with any disease, early diagnosis and treatment is critical, but preventive steps should be taken as well. Keep these tips in mind to decrease the risk of your pet developing diabetes.
Get them moving! Obesity is a big contributor in developing diabetes, so be sure to keep your pet moving with regular exercise to help maintain a proper weight. A healthy weight also helps to combat other ailments that are associated with weight gain, particularly as your pet ages.
Feed them a proper diet. A well-balanced, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet not only helps your pet maintain a healthy weight, but also aids in achieving steady blood sugar levels.
Schedule regular veterinary visits. Routine check-ups go a long way in maintaining our pet’s wellness and early diagnosis of any health issues, including diabetes.
Remember, even if your beloved pet is diagnosed with diabetes, it can be treated and controlled. Treatment differs from animal to animal, but it typically involves a strict diet, increased exercise, and monitoring your pet’s appetite, weight, drinking, and urination. Depending on the severity of the disease, your pet may need daily insulin injections as well.
We all want our pets to be healthy and happy throughout their lives, so taking steps now to help your pet avoid health issues in the future is important!
Dr. Edward Schettino is the president and CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. He holds a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.