November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month: Tips to Preventing Diabetes in Your Pet

November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes isn’t just a disease that affects people it affects our pets too, and it’s a growing problem for thousands of dogs and cats each year. Treatment of diabetes for a family pet is complex, time consuming and costly. Vet visits become much more frequent, and the cost of checkups, tests, medical procedures and insulin therapy add up fast. It involves regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, ongoing dietary adjustments, insulin given by injection or oral glucose-regulating drugs, and keeping a constant, careful eye on your sick pet. Even with managing the disease your pet’s quality of life will never be the same as that happy and healthy pet he/she once was. That’s why it is important as pet owners to do what is best for our four-legged family member to ensure a lifetime of good health. Prevention is the best way to ensure your pet’s health and happiness, and since diabetes is largely a lifestyle related disease, it is preventable. Here are some tips below:

Healthy Diet

Obesity is the number one reason pets become diabetic. You can easily help your dog or cat stay at a healthy weight by feeding him a portion controlled, moisture rich species-appropriate diet consisting primarily of a variety of protein sources, healthy fats, veggies and fruit in moderation, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary. Your pet has no biological requirement for grains or most other carbs. Carbs, which can be as much as 80 percent the ingredient content of processed pet food, turn into sugar in your pet’s body. Excess sugar leads to diabetes. Learn more about dogs and cats nutritional needs here.

Daily Exercise

Another lifestyle-related reason pets develop diabetes is the lack of physical activity. Just like us humans a healthy diet along with exercise go hand in hand when looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Your dog or cat needs regular aerobic exertion to help maintain a healthy weight and to keep his/her muscles in shape. The average pet should be getting at least 20 to 40 minutes of physical activity a day. The amount of activity can vary depending on breed, age, weight or medical conditions, you can learn more about exercising your cat here and your dog here. If you still have concerns about your pet’s physical activity level speak with your Vet, they can help you put together an exercise plan that will work best for your four-legged friend.

The Vaccination Connection

There is a growing body of research that connects autoimmune disorders to Type II diabetes, especially in dogs. If your pet’s immune system attacks his pancreas, he can develop diabetes. One of the main ways your pet’s immune system can be over-stimulated is through repetitive yearly vaccinations against diseases he may already be protected against. If your pet had his full set of puppy or kitten shots on schedule, there’s a high likelihood his immunity to those diseases will last a lifetime. Each time a fully immunized pet receives a repetitive set of vaccines, it increases the risk of sending his immune system into overdrive. If your pet is suffering from diabetes, you might want to talk to your Vet about your concerns before vaccinating. You can also ask your Vet to run a titer test to measure your pet’s antibody response from previous vaccinations. Titer results will tell you whether re-vaccination is necessary, and for exactly which disease.

Symptoms of Pet Diabetes

If your pet is showing any of the symptoms below it could be an indicator of diabetes and you should make an appointment to visit your Vet.

  • Change in appetite
  • Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased activity, weakness, depression
  • Chronic skin infections

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