By Nicole Dukups, CVT, AAHA Practice Accreditation Coordinator
Human diabetes is viewed by many as a national epidemic, and November has been designated “Pet Diabetes Awareness Month” to bring attention to the seriousness of the disease. Many pet owners don’t realize that dogs and cats can get diabetes too, and that its incidence is on the rise. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is sponsoring Pet Diabetes Awareness Month in November to create more awareness of this disease affecting pets.
Could there be a better time to think about the impact that your pet’s diet has on his health in regard to certain diseases like diabetes than when you are digesting your own dietary indiscretions this Thanksgiving?
For instance, did you know that in some cases, diabetes issues in cats can be resolved just by changing their diet or that cataracts are a common side effect in dogs? The bad news is that diabetes is on the rise; the good news is that it is a treatable condition that requires commitment from the veterinarian and owner.
You can be your pet’s best advocate by being a proactive and educated consumer. No one knows your pet better than you do, so when she isn’t feeling well, you’ll have an idea. Some warning signs to look for include excessive thirst and urination, excessive hunger while losing weight, lethargy and a poor hair coat.
If you are concerned that your pet may have diabetes, it is best to contact your veterinarian. During the appointment, it’s important that you relay accurate information about your pet’s signs and symptoms and are able to list all the medications and supplements that your pet is currently taking. Your veterinarian will be able to do a complete physical exam and run lab work to help properly diagnose your pet.
“Diabetes is a treatable condition that requires a committed effort by the veterinarian and pet owner. With appropriate pet owner commitment, monitoring and a thorough understanding of the variables that are within veterinary control, diabetes can be managed,” says Janice Trumpeter, DVM, AAHA deputy executive director.
The American Animal Hospital Association has created resources and guidelines to help veterinary practices along the way. The AAHA Diabetes Management Guidelines provide a foundation for veterinarians to work from. Treatment of diabetes is a combination of art and science. Each pet needs individualized and frequent reassessment, and treatment may be modified based on the pet’s specific needs.
If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, it is very important to develop a good relationship with your veterinarian and the entire team at your animal hospital. Certain difficult-to-manage cases may need the assistance of an internal medicine specialist.
With guidance from your veterinarian, and your compliance with health care recommendations, your pet’s disease can be well-managed. Some things you may have to do at home to aid in the treatment process include keeping an accurate log of feedings and insulin doses and monitoring your pet’s diet.
So, we covered the bad and good news above, but the best news of all is that your dedication will allow your pet to maintain a good quality of life and have the same life expectancy as a nondiabetic pet.
Click here to read more about diabetes, including symptoms, treatment and more.