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A sugary situation: understanding diabetes in pets
Chances are you know someone with diabetes, but did you realize this condition is just as common in dogs and cats? While diabetes can be a complicated disease, understanding a few basic facts can help make sense of its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. First, let’s learn a few definitions:
Similarly to humans, when pets eat, their bodies break down food into simple sugars, like glucose. These sugars enter the bloodstream and are normally picked up by insulin, which acts as a glucose delivery driver, taking the glucose where it needs to go so it can provide the entire body with energy to survive.
When the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or there is a malfunction in insulin’s ability to do its job, glucose stays in the blood and can’t reach the tissues it needs to power.
When blood glucose levels get too high, the excess sugar makes its way into the urine. This is when many pets begin developing some of the most noticeable symptoms, leading to an eventual diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
What pets are at risk for diabetes?
While diabetes can occur in virtually any pet, certain groups may be more susceptible, such as middle-age to older pets, female dogs or male cats. Additionally, pets that meet the following criteria may be at an increased risk of developing diabetes:
Can diabetic pets live happy lives?
Absolutely, especially when they are diagnosed early and treated promptly. If you notice any common symptoms of diabetes in your pet, contact your VCA veterinarian.