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Norwich Bulletin - 2/17/2008

Diabetes Can Strike Your Pet

We know that there is an increase is diabetes in people, but veterinarians are also seeing more pets with diabetes, both Type I and Type II.

One of the major causes is that our pets are too often obese. Over-feeding causes many health problems such as joint pain, overworks the heart and diabetes. What we deem as spoiling our animal companions, is in reality, possibly condemning them to this disease.

Male cats are more prone to diabetes, and while there is no cat breed that is more at risk, certain dog breeds have a higher incidence of diabetes. Diabetes is seen more in cats over 6 and dogs between 7 and 9 year old, but it can strike at almost any age.

At times some cats can go off insulin and have normal blood-glucose levels, and there is some research to indicate that eliminating ALL dry food from a cat's diet and feeding certain canned or raw food diet, can eliminate the need for insulin.

If you see your pet drinking a lot of water, urinating more, eating more and yet losing weight and seeming to be lethargic, an immediate vet visit is needed. It may not be diabetes but tests will determine the cause. The vet will test the blood-glucose levels, and in cats, they may have to test it several times to confirm diabetes.

With proper diet and medication, the disease can usually be controlled, just as in people. Your vet will determine the proper insulin dosage, and frequency of shots, and how often your dog or cat will need to eat, as well as the amount and type of food.

You can learn to test the blood of your pet and administer the shots. It really is not as hard as one might think. Most pets tolerate testing and shots reasonably well, especially by their owner in their own home, rather than the stress of going to the vet.

Our beloved Milo became diabetic due to the amounts of steroids that were being given to him to try to combat his rare disease. He was such a good boy, seeming to know that we were doing everything we did to try and help him get well.

As careful portion control and timing of food intake is critical, you may need to keep your pet in its own part of your home if you have other pets. This usually is possible, especially with some extra attention from you to help overcome any loneliness your pet may feel.

There are several great websites to learn all about diabetes in your pet, signs, diet, tips on checking glucose levels and giving shots, and the answers to almost any question you could have. Please visit www.petdiabetes.org even if your pet has not shown signs of diabetes as it will explain why proper diet and exercise will hopefully keep your pet healthy and living a long, happy life.

While we never really think about diabetes in our pets, more and more of this disease is showing up in our dogs and cats. Being aware that this disease is a reality in our animal's lives as well as our own, may just save your animal companion's life!

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