Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Did you know that our four-legged friends are at risk for diabetes too?

Did you that your household pets are at risk for diabetes also? I didn’t. Similar to children and young adults, man’s best friend is becoming increasingly susceptible to diabetes. A growing number of dogs and cats are gaining an unhealthy amount of weight because of a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is the most prevalent cause of diabetes in these animals. Sadly, as their owners become less active so do their pets. Symptoms in dogs and cats mimic those in humans. Excessive thirst, constant hunger, change in demeanor, and an inexplicable weight loss are all signs that your beloved pet could have diabetes. For dogs, diabetes most commonly occurs in older breeds; however, feline diabetes does not discriminate against age or type. Dogs have a higher rate of diabetes than cats. More specifically, female dogs and male cats most commonly have the condition. Fortunately, if treated correctly, dogs and cats can continue to live long and healthy lives despite having the disease.

Your veterinarian can figure out whether or not your pet has diabetes by testing the amount of sugar in its urine. Once diagnosed, your vet will go over a recommended dietary plan for your pet as well as demonstrate how to administer the insulin shots. Following this health plan is crucial to maintaining stable blood glucose levels. Furthermore, an ideal diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. In addition to a balanced diet, dogs and cats will require twice daily insulin shots. Most owners find administering insulin shots to be the most difficult aspect of a diabetic routine; however, once your pet grows accustomed to its new routine, the shots will be easier to handle. Diabetic supplies, like testing strips, are an effective way to keep track of your pet’s glucose levels.

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health issues in both pets. For instance, an unhealthy diet and lack of insulin could lead to cataracts for your dog, potentially causing permanent blindness in your four-legged friend. Moreover, your cat could face a debilitating weakness in its limbs. These are serious complications, but they are preventable as long as you take excellent care of your pet.

Since pets are not capable of taking care of themselves, the responsibility rests on the owners. It is up to you to make sure your dog or cat is eating the right food, getting enough exercise on a regular basis, and receiving the correct dosage of insulin. These deceivingly small steps are vital to your pet’s well being.

By knowing this I can begin to improve my lab’s quality of life. Although I leave a relatively active life, I have failed my dog by not bringing her along on my trail runs. Like most owners, my dog is not simply a pet. She is more than that. She means more to me than most things in the world. If I truly do love my dog—which I do—then I will make the extra effort to take her out for a walk and feed her less. I have to care of her because she takes care of me.

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