Sugar diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is one of the most common endocrine diseases to strike cats and dogs, afflicting as many as one in four hundred pets. Find out five facts about diabetes in cats or dogs that will help you recognize the symptoms and understand your treatment options.
1. Weight Changes Can Be a Cause and a Symptom
As with humans, weight gain can cause diabetes. Think of this as just one more reason to try to help keep pets on a balanced diet and make sure their weight is healthy. A striking aspect of the early symptoms of diabetes is that your pet may struggle to keep the pounds on, even though he may be eating as much -- or more! -- than usual. The weight loss occurs as your cat or dog begins to break down stored up resources of fat for energy. Watch out for weight loss that doesn't seem to make sense based on your pet's eating habits, since it's a key sign of diabetes.
2. Very Common for All, More Common for Some
While sugar diabetes is a common concern for cats and dogs, some pets are particularly predisposed to the condition. Breeds that are more prone to diabetes include German shepherds, schnauzers, poodles,dachshunds, and golden retrievers. There may be a link between Burmese cats and diabetes. Obesity also increases the likelihood of the diabetes, as well as diseases such as hypothyroidism. Middle-aged, male, overweight neutered cats are a prime target for a diabetes diagnosis; middle-aged female dogs are diagnosed with diabetes more frequently than male dogs.
3. Diabetes Is a Controllable Disease
The best news that can be taken from a diabetes diagnosis is that diabetes can be managed and controlled in nearly all cases. Pets can have a happy life, relatively unaffected by the disease. Changes will have to be made -- such as daily injections, presctiption cat food or dog food, and monitoring of your pet’s glucose levels -- but overall quality of life can remain strong.
4. Remission Is Possible for Cats
With some cats, after a period of treatment with insulin injections and adjusted diet, the diabetes will become so under control that insulin shots will no longer be necessary. Maintaining a balanced diet will still be required in order to keep the diabetes from returning. This remission-like state only occurs within cats, and is not seen in dogs (or people).
5. Three Types of Diabetes
There are several different types of diabetes that cats can get; dogs, in contrast, only get one type of diabetes. Both dogs and cats can get Type I diabetes, which is known as insulin-dependent diabetes. Type II diabetes, which only afflicts cats, occurs when the cat does not process the insulin correctly. If untreated, Type II diabetes can degenerate into Type I diabetes for cats. Type III diabetes is more rare and occurs because of various diseases and medications.