My Pet Has Diabetes, Now What?

diabetesApproximately, 1 out of ever 300 dogs and 1 out of ever 230 cats have diabetes in the United States.  Unfortunately, pet diabetes is on the rise.  Since November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month, Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss what needs to happen after the diagnosis.

Pets that have diabetes are not producing the proper amount of insulin and therefore need insulin injections to decrease their blood sugars.  There is no cure for diabetes, but with proper treatment and monitoring your pet can live a normal life.

Once your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will determine which insulin is appropriate.  At Guthrie Pet Hospital we use a pet insulin called vetsulin for dogs and encourage owners to use a human glargine for cats.  About one-third of the cats started on glargine, especially if diagnosed early, can start to produce insulin on their own and will not require insulin injections for life.  Most pets need insulin injections twice daily about 12 hours apart.

Just like people with diabetes, pets can develop secondary infections.  Urinary tract infections are the most common types of secondary infections.  Your veterinarian will need to perform a urinalysis to screen for a urinary tract infection.  If left undiagnosed and untreated, it will be difficult to regulate your pet’s sugar levels.

To help control your pet’s sugar levels, Guthrie Pet Hospital recommends a prescription diet specifically for your diabetic dog or cat.  Royal Canin, Science Diet and Purina all make prescription diets that can help with the treatment of diabetes.

Your veterinarian will want to perform a glucose curve every two weeks once you start your pet on insulin.  Your pet will most likely need to be in the hospital for most of the day during this testing.  Blood sugar levels are tested every few hours, so the veterinarian can determine if the dose needs to be adjusted.  If the amount needs to be adjusted, you will return in two weeks to for another glucose curve until your veterinarian determines your pet is regulated.

Once your pet is regulated, you will need to monitor for any change of thirst and urination.  If thirst and urination increase, it is a signal that your pet’s blood sugar is high.  The most common reason for this is some type of infection.  Further testing is needed, but urinary tract infections are the most common cause.

Once your pet is on its maintenance dose of insulin and is regulated, most veterinarians recommend spot checking blood sugar levels.  Fructosamine or A1C tests can be drawn and sent to an outside lab.  These tests help your veterinarian verify that your pet’s blood sugars have been stable over the last month.

During November, Guthrie Pet Hospital will offer complimentary blood sugar screening tests for pets with signs of diabetes.  If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, you may be eligible for a complimentary bottle of insulin and prescription food.

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