How Do Pets Get Diabetes? Diabetes Prevention Tips For Cats And Dogs
Diabetes in pets has been on the rise in the past decade, with millions of pets diagnosed each year. Though the disease is manageable, it can be dangerous, and your pet will need major lifestyle changes to stay healthy after diagnosis.
Learn how pets get diabetes and how you may be able to prevent your pet from becoming diabetic.
Type I vs Type II Diabetes In Pets… What’s The Difference?
Like humans, pets can get either type I or type II diabetes.
Type I Diabetes means your pet’s pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Virtually all dogs with diabetes get type I. Type I diabetes is managed with insulin injections.
Type II Diabetes means your pet’s body produces insulin, but their cells are not able to use it properly to convert glucose (sugar derived from food) into energy. This type of diabetes is typically seen in cats. Type II diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise, and not all diabetic cats will need insulin.
In both types, glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Since the body is unable to use glucose for fuel, it burns fat and protein instead. As a result, a diabetic pet may be eating more, but they will actually lose weight.
Why Do Pets Get Diabetes?
Type I diabetes, typically seen in dogs, is not directly related to diet and exercise. It’s similar to what we refer to as juvenile diabetes in humans, though it’s usually diagnosed in dogs between 7 and 10 years of age.
Some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to diabetes. The Bichon Frise, Poodle, Keeshond, Beagle, Cairn Terrier, Pug, and Fox Terrier are more likely to get it, though dogs of any breed, age, and gender may develop diabetes.
Certain conditions can make your dog more susceptible to diabetes. Cushing’s disease, heart disease, kidney disease, and pancreatitis have all been linked to it. If your dog takes steroid medications, they are also at an increased risk of becoming diabetic. Since some diseases, such as pancreatitis, are caused by a poor diet, obesity can be indirectly linked to diabetes.
Type II diabetes, seen in cats, is typically caused by obesity. An overabundance of glucose in the blood can lead to insulin resistance. Cats may not need insulin in some cases, and their diabetes can sometimes be managed with diet and exercise.
Diabetes Prevention And Management Through Diet
Whether your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, or you feel they are at risk for developing it, you should keep their weight in check by feeding a high-quality diet and encouraging them to exercise.
For dogs, this means a diet that is high in quality animal protein and restricted carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are converted to glucose, which can help fuel the body, but too much will raise their blood sugar.
A high fiber diet is sometimes recommended to help manage blood sugar fluctuations in dogs with diabetes and encourage weight loss. However, excessive fiber can wreak havoc on the digestive system and hasn’t been shown to be especially beneficial for most diabetic dogs.
Cats also need a diet rich in protein, and they’re better off with little to no carbs. If you feed a dry diet, consider switching your cat to canned food.
It can be tricky to increase your pet’s physical activity, especially if they’re older and have mobility issues. Start with just ten minutes per day of playtime, walking, or even swimming. Ask your vet for help with creating an exercise regime that’s realistic for your pet.
When To See Your Vet
Symptoms of diabetes can be similar to those of other diseases. You cannot diagnose or treat your pet on your own. See your vet for advice on improving your pet’s diet, testing for diabetes if you notice symptoms, and starting treatment early so your pet can live a full, happy life.
Test your pet at home with the At Home Wellness Test for Dogs or Cats
With the At Home Wellness Test for Dogs or Cats, you can easily check to see if your pet has a common health issue. In just 60 seconds, you can test your pet’s urine for high glucose levels, urinary tract infection, kidney failure, and blood in the urine. The At Home Wellness Test for Dogs or Cats includes everything you need to cleanly collect and test your pet’s urine in a non-invasive and stress-free manner.
The At Home Wellness Test for Dogs includes a urine cup with a reusable telescopic pole for easy urine collection and the At Home Wellness Test for Cats includes a special hydrophobic litter that causes the urine to puddle atop the litter for easy collection. Both testing kits include 2 testing strips, one sample collection vial, one sample collection pipette, and a results card that quickly indicated positive or negative results