Diabetes in Pets
Diabetes is one of the more common hormonal disorders seen in feline and canine medicine. Symptoms of diabetes usually include some combination of the following symptoms: Increased thirst/urination (with sometimes inappropriate urination), as well as increased appetite in conjunction with usually weight loss. Risk factors for diabetes include particularly overweight pets, and especially those pets on too high a processed carbohydrate rich dry diet.
While diabetes may occur in pets of any age, it is most commonly seen in middle-aged and older animals. Diagnosis is usually made through a combination of blood work documenting a high blood sugar, as well as elevated sugar measured on a urine analysis. While an occasional pet may be able to be controlled through oral medication, most diabetic animals will typically need some form of injectable insulin in order to lower blood sugar levels and control symptoms. There are many insulin formulations on the market today, including Humulin N, as well as Protamine zinc insulin, which are favorites amongst many veterinarians.
Typically vets will measure serial blood sugars throughout the day periodically to make sure that diabetes control is adequate. While it is always ideal to maintain sugars between 100 and 250, in many cases we simply hope to stabilize symptoms, as well as the weight of the animal. We will also often recommend low-carbohydrate diets. Although many veterinarians will recommend processed prescription diets, I prefer natural ones such as Wysong Epigen or diets such as Evo by Natura. In the ideal situation, I even prefer that animal guardians consider proper home-made diets, which I find best control the symptoms.
Prognosis for diabetes is usually excellent for control, but rare for cure of the disease, except in certain cats who sometimes will spontaneously resolve on their own. Pets must be monitored closely for the development of diabetic complications, including secondary urinary and other infections which often need to be managed in order to optimally control the disease.