Pet Diabetes: Know the Warning Signs and How to Help

Pet DiabetesWhile public education and outreach has raised the profile for awareness of diabetes among people, it’s still relatively unknown that diabetes can affect pets as well. Longview Animal Hospital wants to raise awareness of this, and to let your know treatment is available for your pet.


Diabetes is a serious health condition for your pets, and unfortunately, it’s fairly common. A State of Pet Health Report  showed there was a 79.7 percent increase in diabetes between the years of 2006 and 2015, while the recorded instance of diabetes among cats has risen 18.1 percent in the same time frame.

By the numbers, these statistics mean that one in 308 dogs and one in 230 cats are affected by the disorder. Unlike humans, who can verbally communicate their health concerns, pets can’t tell us how they’re feeling. It’s up to the owner to be observant of their animals and watch for the warning signs a diabetic pet exhibits.


While it’s uncommon in younger animals, as our pets age, they can develop type 2 diabetes. Just like in humans, this can be caused by genetic changes or improper diet and obesity. If you notice any of these warning signs, it might be time to contact your veterinarian with your concerns and have your pet tested:


Symptoms Cats and Dogs Share

  • Increased thirst and demand for water.
  • Increased urination and accidents in the home.
  • Constant begging for food, even after they just ate with no weight change, or weight loss.
  • Lethargic or lack of energy, sleeping more and losing interest in activities.
  • Sticky or sweet smelling urine.

Dog Specific

  • Cloudy eyes.

Cat Specific

  • Dull, dry coat.


How Your Pet Will Be Tested

Testing for diabetes in pets is a little different than in humans. Your vet will likely do a series of urine and blood screens designed to detect ketones and excess glucose in the blood. A consistently high level will generally indicate that your pet is diabetic.


It’s a good idea to bring your pet in for testing if they exhibit any of the above warning signs, and as your pet ages, you may want to include the testing in standard health checkups. After all, the longer diabetes is left untreated, the more potential damage can be done to your pet’s organs.


Untreated diabetes can have serious health effects that include vision problems, kidney malfunction, general weakness, excessive thirst and more. 


Your pet will likely begin a daily regime of medication in an effort to help them process out the extra sugars in their blood. Your vet may ask what type of food your pet is given and the frequency or amount of feedings.


Depending on the diet your pet has, it may be recommended to switch foods, provide less, or supplement with other items. Regular feeding with high-quality food in conjunction with medication is key to maintaining your pet’s blood sugar and safeguarding their health.


If your pet is overweight, its vital to begin a gentle exercise routine with them. Lowering their body weight can help manage their diabetes symptoms and increase the effectiveness of their medications.


The fantastic news about diabetes in pets is that, just like in humans, early intervention and effective treatment can help your pet regain their health and live long, full and happy lives.


Additional screens will be added to your pet’s checkup and may include eyes, heart and kidney function as diabetes tends to impact these organs first.


If your pet does have diabetes, you should be familiar with the warning signs your pet may exhibit if they reach a critical stage in their disease. Untreated diabetes, or an insulin spike or drop that may occur if your pet eats a high-sugar item or misses meals can be life-threatening.


Warning Signs in Diabetic Pets

  • Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can happen if there is too much insulin in your pet’s bloodstream. If your pet is suddenly restless, anxious, shows muscle twitching, extreme sleepiness or seizures, call your pet hospital right away.


If you are certain that your pet is hypoglycemic due to not eating or an accidental overdose of insulin, you can hand-feed them small bits of pasteurized honey or karo syrup to help keep them alert on the way to the hospital. Be sure to check with your pet’s doctor before giving them more insulin.


  • Kidney Damage: A diabetic pet is at greater risk for kidney damage. You should pay close attention to the urinary habits of your animal. Excessive urination and thirst or a sudden decrease can both indicate problems.  Diabetes can also make urinary tract infections more likely.  If you notice bloody urine in the litter box, be sure to call the vet.


If you’re concerned that your pet might have diabetes, please contact Longview Animal Hospital. Our doctors and staff will be able to help you arrange for testing and inform you of the current treatments needed to help your pet remain healthy.