Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

Elmhurst Animal Care Center pic
Elmhurst Animal Care Center
Image: elmhurstanimalcarecenter.com

Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince earned his veterinary degree in 1984 from the University of Illinois. Certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a canine and feline specialist, he serves as a partner at the Elmhurst Animal Care Center outside of Chicago. Many of the disorders for which Dr. Todd Prince treats dogs and cats are similar or even identical to human ailments, including, among others, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, hypertension, and diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus is a hormonal disorder related to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that cells use to convert glucose in the blood to energy. Type I diabetes is characterized by the body’s insufficient production of insulin, including an inability to produce the hormone at all. Type II diabetes occurs when the body does produce insulin but the cells don’t use it properly.

Type II diabetes among humans is a major public health concern in the U.S. It’s also becoming more common among dogs and cats. In 1970, about 1 in 1,250 cats was diagnosed with diabetes, and about 1 in 500 dogs had the disease. By the turn of the century, the incidence of diabetes had increased to about 1 in 81 in cats and about 1 in 166 in dogs.

Typical symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include an increase in hunger, thirst, and urination, irritability, vision problems, increased fatigue, and unexplained loss of weight. Pet owners who observe these symptoms in their dogs or cats should have them examined by their veterinarian, who has several tests available to diagnose the disease.

Diabetes in dogs and cats is treated much the same as it is in humans, first by modifying the diet to one low in carbohydrates and high in fiber and protein, and instituting an exercise and weight program. Other treatment options include oral medications and injected insulin.

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