Caring for Cats and Dogs with Diabetes
For many people, a pet is like a member of the family. Finding out that your pet has diabetes can be difficult, but – just like humans – pets can manage to live otherwise healthy lives with the disease.
There are many things you can do to help your diabetic pet cope. Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be successfully managed.
Diabetes Symptoms in Pets
Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms in both cats and dogs. In cats, diabetes can cause wasting of back muscles or weakness in the back legs. When it comes to dogs, you may notice a general feeling of lethargy. The dog may be less active, or it could be sleeping more.
Increased thirst and urination are two early signs of diabetes that go hand in hand. You may notice that your pet is drinking more water and urinating more frequently, or that your pet is having “accidents” in the house.
Weight and hunger are also things that you should be conscious of when it comes to your pet. If your cat or dog suddenly acts as if it is always starving despite eating the usual amount, this can be a sign of diabetes. Sudden weight loss is also a common occurrence because diabetes can increase a pet's metabolism.
It can be easy to disregard how much a pet eats, and it is important to know that obesity can cause diabetes to develop in animals, just like in humans. If your pet is obese, you should keep an eye on it to determine if it is developing any symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetes Management, Diet and Exercise
If your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, the most important thing to do is to monitor your pet's blood sugar levels. There are several monitoring devices to choose from, including urine glucose test strips and blood glucose meters.
In addition to monitoring, you may also need to use daily insulin injections to help your pet restore insulin levels and manage blood glucose levels.
Part of your pet's diabetes management routine will include making changes to your pet's diet. Diabetic dogs and cats must be fed a nutritious diet that minimizes fluctuations in blood glucose and keeps them at a healthy weight. Meals should ideally consist of the same thing every day, and your pet should be fed at the same time of day as well. Veterinarians recommend that pet owners implement a diet high in protein and low in fat, and which also consists of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber to help slow absorption of glucose from the digestive system.
Exercise should become an important of your pet's life as well, particularly if your diabetic pet is also overweight. Exercise must be regulated because the activity may affect your pet's blood glucose concentrations. It is important to discuss what exercise regimen will be right for your pet. It can be difficult to place an exercise regimen for a cat, as they do not typically have exercise routines like dogs. For cats, it is likely a veterinarian will recommend simply playing together daily.
Lastly, remember that it is vital to take your pet in for regular check-ups to identify any changes in your pet's condition.
Sources: Care2.com, PetMD.com