Diabetes mellitus is a disease that both dogs and cats can develop, although the disease differs between species somewhat. The clinical signs that many pet owners report early in the disease process are weight gain, excessive thirst, increased frequency in urination, urinating outside the litter box or having accidents in the house, and increased appetite. As the disease progresses, the clinical signs are typically weight loss, lethargy, not eating, and vomiting.
Veterinarians will suspect diabetes based on a pet’s history and the clinical signs that the pet owner has seen. A urinalysis and blood test can be done to diagnose a cat or dog with diabetes. Once the blood glucose reaches a certain level, it will actually start spilling out into the urine and we sometimes see this when we are checking a cat for a urinary tract infection.
Once a diagnosis of diabetes has been made, it will be important to follow the advice of your veterinarian very closely. Treatment will vary based on species and your particular pet. Dogs more commonly have Type 1 diabetes; which is when insulin-secreting cells are destroyed, thus making the dog dependant on an outside source of insulin. Cats develop inadequate or delayed insulin secretion (Type 2), and often cats can be controlled with diet alone after the blood glucose is stabilized initially with insulin.
We teach pet owner’s how to give insulin at home, which will be given every 12 hours. Periodic blood work will be required, more frequently right after diagnosis, to ensure that the blood glucose normalizes. We recommend a special diet that will aid in weight loss and controlling the blood glucose. Cats can sometimes be taken off insulin and controlled with diet alone.
If diabetes is untreated, it can cause the pet to become very sick and can be fatal. The body will go into a state of ketoacidosis causing electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, kidney failure and obtundation. Pets will require hospitalization for several days and the prognosis is guarded.
If you think your pet is showing signs of diabetes, please contact us in Springfield at 217-529-4499 to get an appointment set up right away. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.