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National Pet Diabetes Month

DIABETES & INSULIN


November is National Pet Diabetes Month, and during this blog post I would like to educate you on this sometimes confusing disease. A lot of our clients, when their pet is first diagnosed, get a little nervous because there is a large amount of information to process and the treatment can seem daunting in the beginning. Below, I hope to break down all of that information simply, so perhaps if your pet is ever diagnosed with diabetes you won't feel too overwhelmed.

If you have any questions, always feel free to call our hospital or email me directly at [email protected]

-Sarah


Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the beta cells of the endocrine pancreas either stop producing insulin or can no longer produce it in enough quantity for the body's needs. The condition is commonly divided into two types, depending on the origin of the condition.

  • TYPE ONE: Type 1 diabetes, sometimes called "juvenile diabetes," is caused by destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas. The condition is also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes, meaning insulin injections must replace the insulin the pancreas is no longer capable of producing for the body's needs.

    • Dogs have insulin-dependent, or Type 1, diabetes; research finds no Type 2 diabetes in dogs. (Because of this, there is no possibility the permanently damaged pancreatic beta cells could re-activate to engender a remission as may be possible with some feline diabetes cases, where the primary type of diabetes is Type 2.)

    • This most common form of diabetes affects 1 in 500 dogs. The condition is treatable and need not shorten the animal's life span or interfere with quality of life. If left untreated, the condition can lead to cataracts, increasing weakness in the legs (neuropathy),malnutrition, ketoacidosis, dehydration, and death.

    • Diabetes mainly affects middle-age and older dogs, but there are juvenile cases. The typical canine diabetes patient is middle-age, female, and overweight at diagnosis.

    • The number of dogs diagnosed with diabetes mellitus has increased three-fold in thirty years. In survival rates from almost the same time, only 50% survived the first 60 days after diagnosis and went on to be successfully treated at home. Currently, diabetic dogs receiving treatment have the same expected lifespan as non-diabetic dogs of the same age and gender.

  • TYPE TWO: Diabetes mellitus in cats is a chronic disease that affects carbohydrate metabolism due to either an insufficient insulin response or insulin resistance. Like diabetes in humans, it is characterized by chronically high blood glucose.

    • Diabetes strikes 1 in 400 cats, though recent veterinary studies note that it has become increasingly common. Symptoms in cats are similar to those in humans.

    • 80-95% of diabetic cats experience something similar to type-2 diabetes, but are generally severely insulin-dependent by the time symptoms are diagnosed.

    • The condition is treatable, and treated properly, the cat can experience a normal life expectancy. In type-2 cats, prompt effective treatment occasionally leads to diabetic remission, in which the cat no longer needs injected insulin. Untreated, the condition leads to increasingly weak legs in cats, and eventually malnutrition, ketoacidosis and/or dehydration, and death.

SYMPTOMS

  • In both types of diabetes early symptoms are excessive drinking and urination, ravenous appetite accompanied with weight loss or weight gain.

DIAGNOSIS

  • a blood glucose level and/or urinalysis (urine test) can lead to initial diagnosis of the disease.


TREATMENT

  • Both types of diabetes are treatable but life-threatening if not treated appropriately and in a timely manner.

  • Occasionally hospitalization is required to stabilize patients.

  • The veterinarian and staff will instruct you on treatments at home.

    • This includes insulin injections and timed blood glucose checks.

  • When first diagnosed your pet will need to come to the hospital every few days for blood glucose checks while we find the appropriate insulin dose.

INSULIN

  • NPH: NPH insulin (also known as Humulin N, Novolin N among others) is an intermediate-acting insulin given to help control the blood sugar level of those with diabetes.

    • When injected subcutaneously, it has an intermediate duration of action, meaning longer than that of regular insulin.

    • NPH insulin is cloudy in appearance.

  • REGULAR:Regular insulin includes regular human insulin also known as human insulin (regular). The two most common brand names are Humulin R and Novolin R.

    • Regular insulin is a short acting insulin.

    • Regular insulin is clear in appearance.


Both types of insulin are injected under the skin, but regular insulin can be given in the muscle as well. The doctor will tell you which insulin to give and how to give it when your pet is diagnosed.


Diabetes may seem scary at first, but once you are educated by the staff and get into the routine of giving injections at home and coming in for blood glucose checks it becomes second-nature for most pet owners. In addition to insulin, there are several prescription diets available that can aid in glucose control and management. We generally do not recommend the diets until your pet is stable and eating normally again, as some pets' appetites decline before and during initial diagnosis. 

If you have any questions in regards to the information here, or if you are concerned about your pet, please call us at 553-9954. Diabetes is a treatable disease, but can be fatal if left untreated.

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