Responsible pet owners tend to think ahead on medical issues and how they can protect your pets' lives.
It is possible to prevent diabetes in pets in many cases, and education is the first step in fighting the disease. The caring vets at Animal Care Center of Castle Pines are happy to provide you with the information you need to know about the risk factors and how to prevent diabetes in dogs and cats.
Types and Causes of Diabetes in Pets
Like humans, dogs and cats can suffer from type one or type two diabetes. While producing similar symptoms, each type of diabetes derives from different causes and requires different treatments. The distinction between the types ultimately is whether insulin injections are a necessary part of treatment or a healthier lifestyle for your pet will suffice for managing the illness.
Type One Diabetes
Type one diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce a sufficient amount of insulin, a hormone that helps sugar (glucose) enter the cells. Without insulin, it's difficult for the body to utilize sugar as an energy source. Type one diabetes is generally believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction in which the body attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
Because a pet with this form of diabetes cannot produce insulin naturally, they must be injected with it. Typically, this is done after every meal so that your pet may process the food into glucose that it may use. Unfortunately, once developed, this form of diabetes cannot be reversed, and your pet will need insulin injections for the rest of their life.
Type Two Diabetes
Type two diabetes occurs when the pancreas still produces insulin, but the body's cells react poorly to the insulin and, as a result, do not take in any glucose. Type two diabetes has various causes, but common causes often stem from an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and obesity. In many ways, the onset of type two diabetes is a result of your pet's lifestyle.
Unlike type one diabetes, type two diabetes does not necessarily require regular insulin injections as the body still produces insulin. Instead, you can improve the body's usage of insulin by practicing a healthier lifestyle with your pet. By exercising regularly and cutting weight down, your pet's body can become more capable of handling insulin. While it will not fully reverse the disease, a healthy lifestyle cuts down on the need for insulin.
Risk Factors for Diabetes in Pets
Both cats and dogs are at risk for both types of diabetes. However, dogs are generally more susceptible to type one diabetes, while cats are equally at risk for both types. Various risk factors will determine what form of diabetes might affect your pet, including age, gender, general health, genetics, and lifestyle.
Diabetes can occur at any age, but generally, older cats and dogs are more susceptible. This is due to the natural aging of the body and the decrease in physical activity that older and senior pets often experience.
Cats and dogs are both more vulnerable to diabetes based on gender. In the case of cats, research has found that males are more vulnerable than females, and neutered male cats have the highest risk. In the case of dogs, the opposite is true-female dogs are actually more vulnerable than males.
Inflammation of the Pancreas
Also known as pancreatitis, chronic forms of this disorder can damage a pet's pancreas, including the beta cells that produce insulin. As a result, type two diabetes could be induced.
Certain dog and cat breeds are more likely to suffer from diabetes. Poodles, Pugs, Beagles, and Samoyeds are all more prone to suffer from diabetes, along with Burmese and Siamese cat breeds.
Improper Diet and Lack of Exercise
Poor diet and lack of exercise are common risk factors for pets, but they are also the most preventable. An unhealthy lifestyle leads to obesity, which can cause poor responses to natural insulin, causing the onset of type two diabetes.
How Can I Prevent Diabetes in My Pets?
Ultimately, the fight against diabetes begins by fighting risk factors. A healthy lifestyle prevents the onset of obesity and typically prevents pancreatitis as well. Regular exercise helps alleviate the stress that old age can put on a pet's body, allowing them to remain physically active and capable of fighting the disease. Even if you have a female poodle or male Burmese, a healthy lifestyle can prevent diabetes, despite their breed and gender.
For pets already suffering from type one or type two diabetes, there's no need to give up hope. While diabetes cannot be cured and may not always be prevented, it can be treated and managed with insulin shots and lifestyle changes. A healthy lifestyle can help to lessen the symptoms to the point where a pet with diabetes can effectively live the same life as its peers. It's never too late to begin caring for your pet in a health-conscious manner.
Seeking Help with Your Pet's Diabetes?
If your pet is at risk or you suspect that they might suffer from diabetes, it's critical to seek professional guidance. Here at Animal Care Center, we're glad when people take the warning signs seriously, so we can assist them in making holistic lifestyle changes that protect their pet. Contact us today at 303-688-3660 to request an appointment for a wellness exam.