What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a complex disease that affects the concentration of glucose, the main source of energy for the body’s cells. It results when the body produces too little of the hormone insulin, or doesn’t process insulin properly. Without enough insulin, cells can’t absorb glucose which leads to a high concentration in the bloodstream.

What causes diabetes?

The following have been shown to play a role in the development of the disease:

• Genetics

• Age (Middle-aged and older pets are at a higher risk)

• Autoimmune disease

• Obesity

Chronic pancreatitis

Symptoms to watch for:

• Excessive thirst

• Increased urination

• Weight loss despite an increased appetite

• Lethargy

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Your veterinarian can confirm a diagnosis by checking blood work and testing urine for the presence of glucose and ketones.

How is diabetes treated?

Here’s the good news. Although diabetes can’t be cured, pets with diabetes can still go on to live long, healthy and active lives with changes in lifestyle and diet, insulin injections, and regular exams. Since every pet responds differently, your veterinarian will tailor a treatment program that’s right for him or her.

Anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 cats and dogs develop diabetes

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Can diabetes lead to other health issues?

Yes, pets should be monitored for complications such as cataracts, weakness of the hind legs, high blood pressure and lower urinary tract infections. Avoiding high blood glucose levels can help prevent or delay complications, making early diagnosis and treatment especially critical.