Diabetes in Dogs And Cats
I wrote this article some time ago, but search engines still default to it.
So instead of reading it: If you have a diabetic cat, go here.
If your pet is a dog, go here.
Diabetes mellitus is a disease of your pet's endocrine gland system. One of these endocrine glands, the pancreas, is responsible for regulating your pet's blood sugar level.
There are two forms of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is caused by a deficiency of insulin - the hormone that regulates how sugar is absorbed and utilized by the cells of the body. This Insulin is produced by the pancreas gland which is nestled among the loops of your pet's small intestines. A situation similar to Type l diabetes is the most common form in dogs. A situation similar to Type ll diaetes is the most common form in cats.
Two things influence your pet's susceptibility to diabetes - its weight and its genetics. As in humans, pets that are overweight are more susceptible to developing Type 2 diabetes. Certain breeds also appear more susceptible to developing diabetes. These include miniature schnauers, toy and miniature poodles, samoyeds, australian terriers, elkhounds, dachsunds, westies, and pugs (ref) as well as burmese cats (ref). Other breeds, like german shephers, pit bulls and golden retrievers rarely develop the problem.
Neutered dogs are considerably more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than un-neutered pets, quite likely due to the known tendency for neutered pets to become fat , but just being a female pet apears to add risk as well.
The mean age that dogs develop diabetes is 7-9 years. with cats tending to develop the disease a year or two later in life.
Your pet's many endocrine glands work in tandum, often relying on the hormonal signals of one gland to stimulate the activity of another. Your pet's testicles or ovaries produce hormones that have profound effects on its other endocrine glands, so surgically removing them has consequences other than serility. We know that pets thats show evidence of adrenal or pituitary endocrine gland disease are at a higher risk of developing diabetes as well.
Many veterinarians and animal nutritionists suspect that in cats, a diet too rich in carbohydrates increases a pet's risk of developing diabetes. We already know that the level of carbolydrate in feline diets influences their post-feeding blood glucose levels. (ref)
is a hormone produced by the body. Insulin works by binding with
receptors on cells throughout the body much like a key fits into
a lock. Once the insulin has “unlocked the door”, glucose
can cross over into the cell from the blood. Once inside the cell,
glucose is either burned by the cell for energy or stored for future
use as glycogen. Without insulin, sugar accumulates in the bloodstream
causing a number of bad things to happen. When your pet's blood
sugar is about twice its normal level in its blood, some of it will
spill over into its urine. In dogs, this occurs when their blood
sugar level exceeds about 180mg/dL ; in cats when it exceeds 280
mg/dL. You can find your pet's normal blood values here.
What Causes Diabetes?
As I previously mentioned, diabetes tends to occur in pets that have been too fat. So you have a great deal of control over the situation if you and your family can be strict enough in regulating the amount of food and the kind of foods your pet eats. It takes enormous will power not to over-feed the pets we love when they begs for more food and treats than is healthy. There are specialty diets designed specifically for diabetes cats.
Diabetes occurs when pancreatic islet cells called beta cells are destroyed. Destruction of these cells occurs due to chronic pancreatitis or autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cells. Diabetes also occurrs in pets that have over active adrenal glands (hyperadrenocorticism) or have received large doses of corticosteroids or sex hormones.
2 or Insulin-resistant diabetes is a phenomenon in which a normal
or abnormally high amount of insulin is present in the blood stream
but can no longer “unlock the door” to cells to allow
the glucose in. This can be a problem in cats. Muscle cells, in
particular react sluggishly to the desirable action of insulin and
are starved for energy. In this condition, eating a hearty meal
is followed a group of symptoms including elevated blood sugar,
elevatted blood pressure and. high triglycerides. . Many veterinarians
have begun to use newer products to treat this. In cats, the troglitazone
(Rezulin) has shown promise.
How Will My Veterinarian Diagnose Diabetes In My Pet?
What Treatments Are Available For My Pet?
Female dogs that develop the disease do better when they are spayed. If you exercise your dog set the time and the length of your playtime the same every day.
Scientific studies, performed in 2005 suggest that cats, which in Nature are strict carnivores, do not produce sufficient Glucokinase and Hexokinase, liver enzyme that are necessary for the metabolism (use) of glucose. Glucose is the end product of carbohydrates absorbed through the intestine. My interpretation of this data is that cats would have a tendency to high blood sugar and subsequent diabetes when fed a diet containing carbohydrates in quantity. Therefore, do not feed cats diets that are high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in cat foods are usually derived from plant products. Meat-based diets should contain very little carbohydrate.
Testing For Diabetes:
is very important that you monitor your pet frequently to be sure
that the insulin dose you are using is still correct. Do this by
wetting a urine test strip, which you purchase at the drug store.
These strips tell you indirectly if blood sugar levels have come
down to near normal levels. Increase or decrease the pet’s
insulin dose according to the results. It is best to keep a diary
of results testing the pet at the same time every day.
Lancets to obtain a drop of blood work well around the pet’s
nose. Give your pet a small treat after obtaining the blood sample
and praise him. I generally suggest that blood be tested first thing
in the morning and again at noon and bedtime for a number of weeks.
Once the pet is well established in his food and injection routine
the evening or afternoon checks can be eliminated. Be sure to keep
the insulin in the refrigerator.
Diabetic pets, especially those in which the disease is not being controlled well, are more susceptible to infections. Urinary tract infections are particularly common since the sugar in the urine allows bacteria to grow. These pets need better insulin control and periodic antibiotics. Have your pet’s urine examined at the first sign of blood in the urine or straining.
Care of a diabetic pet is very challenging. You will need a good rapport with your veterinarian. If you are not very compatible with your veterinarian, now would be a good time to search for another. Ask the receptionist how your veterinarian handles after-hours emergencies. Most veterinarians today refer after hours calls to an emergency clinic. If this is the case be sure to ask for their telephone number. If you are dedicated to following the plan your veterinarian works out for you, your pet it should continue to have a happy and long life.
It has recently been found that severely limiting the amount of carbohydrate fed to cats while increasing the amount of protein they eat can go a long way in controlling diabetes. Dry cat chows , even those recommended for diabetes, are generally higher in carbohydrates than canned cat foods so the first thing to do is switch you cat to a canned diet with the highest protein and lowest carbohydrate content available. Blood glucose surges after eating canned foods are generally less than that due to dry cat foods.
A new medication that is being tried in dogs and cats is Lantus® (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection) This is a once-a-day insulin manufactured for humans by Aventis Pharmaceuticals. It is the first insulin to offer truly flat insulin levels through the entire day for most humans. Its advantages are once a day administration that keeps blood sugar constant throughout the day.
What Can I Do To Help Prevent Diabetes In My Pet?
Feed your pet a nutritious diet. Do not over-feed your pet. Just like humans, overweight pets are at higher risk of developing diabetes, arthritis and a host of other problems.
One of the causes of obesity in our pets is probably neutering them too young. Un-neutered pets can get too plum too. You just have to control what they eat and how much they eat. Be sure they get plenty of exercise.