Could your pet be living with diabetes?
Some of my favourite patients are diabetics. These little cats and dogs teach us about dignity and patience in the face of a long term illness, some of them even reminding their owners when their insulin injections are due!
November is Pet Diabetes Month at The Mewes Vets – part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the condition and get our cats and dogs tested for it.
Diabetes is a challenging disease to live with, both for people and for pets. But living with diabetes without medication – undiagnosed – is far worse.
Pets lose weight at an extreme rate, start drinking like fish, and usually end up having wetting accidents indoors, at which point their owners start getting upset. But other changes are happening to their insides too. They are more prone to infections, especially cystitis; they become tired and lackadaisical, losing all their bounce; and may vomit, refuse food and can lose their sight.
Diabetes is most often caused by a failure of the pancreas – one of the organs producing enzymes for digestion – to produce enough of the hormone insulin. Insulin is a messenger that circulates in the bloodstream and is one of the mechanisms whereby we mammals maintain our blood sugar levels under very tight control. If you don’t make enough insulin your blood glucose soars, making you feel really rough.
Diagnosing diabetes is relatively easy, and involves a urine sample to test for the unexpected presence of sugar. If this is positive then follow-up blood tests are performed, and treatment can be started.
Treatment is a challenge, usually involving twice daily injections of insulin for the pet by their owner. Some of my clients feel uncomfortable with this at first, but my nursing team have become adept at coaching even the most needle squeamish owners into fabulous nurses to their pets. And then a pet can go on to live out its full expected life span.
If your pet is 7 years or older – cat or dog – and has not had a urine sample in the last 6 months, why not do the free online survey at www.petdiabetesmonth.co.uk/sur… or pop a fresh urine sample into the Mewes Vets for a free assessment during November: Pet Diabetes Month.