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What is Diabetes and How Does it Affect My Pet?

Diabetes mellitus occurs in our pets when their body does not use glucose (sugars) normally. Glucose is used in the body for energy and is regulated by the pancreas sending out a hormone called insulin. Insulin is required to transfer the glucose to the cells. This becomes similar to a lock and key situation. The glucose is the lock and the insulin is the key. If the insulin is unable to be used or there is not enough circulating in the bloodstream (basically the wrong key) then the glucose will remain locked in the wrong places of the body such as the bloodstream which eventually will overflow into the urine if not treated. This is what causes diabetic pets to drink and urinate more. If the body is not getting enough energy then it must take it from somewhere else such as fat and muscle which is why pets will lose weight with untreated diabetes.

Do they have Type I or Type II?

Type I diabetes: Pancreas produces no insulin at all.

Type II diabetes: Pancreas produces some insulin, but not enough.

Almost all dogs have type I diabetes and must be treated with insulin. Most cats will have non-insulin-dependent diabetes or Type II.

How does it affect my cat or dog?

Cat:

  • Type II
  • Might not be permanent (Can go into remission)
  • High Protein/Low Carb Diets

Dog:

  • Type I
  • Is permanent
  • High Fiber Diets
  • Can develop cataracts

How can I tell if my pet is diabetic?

  • Excessive water drinking and increased urination
  • Weight loss, even though there may be an increased appetite
  • Cloudy eyes (especially in dogs)
  • Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)

Did I do something to cause this?

Most likely no you did not. However, animals that are obese have a higher chance of becoming diabetic. Therefore making sure your friend doesn’t become overweight is the best thing you can do.

What can I do to help my pet?

The first thing you want to do for your possibly diabetic friend is to bring him to a veterinarian. They can do a glucose check if they feel that might be the case. This is the most important thing for them because the earlier you catch it the better chance of continuing a long life they will have. After a diagnosis, they will need to be on insulin and go to their vet for regular blood glucose curves (every 6 months once stable). This part is also important because it will tell us where the highs and lows are during the day which will give us important information for adjusting the insulin doses as soon as possible as too little is a problem but too much is an emergency called Hypoglycemia.

What is Hypoglycemia & why is it dangerous?

Hypoglycemia is the opposite of high blood sugar. Meaning that their sugars are too low. Having high blood sugars may be a problem but having too low blood sugar can be fatal! This is what you want to prevent. When watching your friend and making sure they don’t become hypoglycemic you want to look for the following things:

  • lethargy (lack of energy)
  • weakness
  • head tilting
  • hunger
  • restlessness
  • shivering
  • ataxia – usually lack of muscular coordination, but maybe changes in head and neck movements, wobbling when walking, unbalanced
  • disorientation
  • stupor
  • convulsions or seizures
  • coma

If you notice anything like this. Your 1st step is to get them some corn syrup on their gums followed by giving them some food if it is safe to do so. Then get them to your nearest veterinary clinic.

My first curve

When newly diagnosed with diabetes your pet will need a glucose curve after 2-3 weeks. This is because all pets start on the average dose of insulin. Since each animal is different and there is no test to tell us how much is needed exactly, we have to do curves to get the correct dosing. So for the first little while, you may have to do a couple of these to get your stable dosing.

Can my curves be done at home?

Once your pet is on a stable dose yes you can do these curves at home! Make sure it is a day you will be home for at least 12 hours. You can purchase a glucometer from your veterinarian called AlphaTrak. The glucometer you use CAN NOT be one for humans! Then starting in the morning (after your pet has been fed and given insulin) you will take small drops of blood samples every 2-3 hours while recording the times the sample was taken, if insulin was given, and any food or treats. You can do this with a sheet that you can find here, this website or you can use this app called Pet Diabetes Tracker or Pet Dialog. Then after the day is done you can send the files to your veterinarian and they will be able to tell you if you need to change dosing.

Pet Diabetes Vs Human Diabetes

There are many similarities between pet diabetes vs human. However, it is important to understand the differences. First pets need to eat before getting insulin while humans get insulin after eating. Pets have 3 locations where you can give injections; between shoulder blades, flank, and the side of the chest. While humans can inject in 6 places; abdomen, upper arm, thigh, lower back, hips, or buttocks.

References:
AMVA – https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/diabetes-pets
VCA – https://vcacanada.com/know-your-pet/diabetes-mellitus-in-dogs-overview
Vetsulin – https://www.vetsulin.com/
Veterinary Partner – https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/doc/?id=4951506

By: Ashley G, VT

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Need a Tic Tac? How's your pet's teeth?

We all know what dog breath is, but how normal is this bad breath? Is it really just dog breath or is it something more? Let's talk about it to help you determine if you should be talking to your veterinarian about your pet's breath and oral health. We can agree that all dogs have "dog breath" that does not smell great, but sometimes if you notice a change in that breath (especially when it is a severe change) it might be the first sign your furry friend needing a dental cleaning. It is suggested to book a consult with you regular veterinarian at this time to get to the bottom of it. Now what other signs with bad breath might give you a good idea that you need a dental? excessive drooling not wanting to eat, especially dry food, or to play with chew toys & dropping food changes in behavior, such as being more aggressive chronic sneezing abnormal discharge from the nose chewing with one side of their mouth or favoring one side of their mouth pawing at or rubbing their muzzle bleeding from their mouth chronic eye infections or drainage with no exact cause or cure inability to open or close mouth discoloured tooth/teeth and a mass or growth in mouth, which happens to be more obvious usually. If you notice any of these signs alone or with your furry friends bad breath, then it may be time to book a dental and have your friends teeth looked at!   But wait! Why would my pet need a dental? I have never heard of a pet needing to have dentals! Well, I explain this more in my previous post about what dentals are and why they are good to have for your furry friends to live longer, happier lives. However stories make everything a bit more relatable! Meet Cujo: Cujo is a 8 year old mixed breed medium sized dog. He loved everything and loved life. All he wanted to do was snuggle everyone. However, his breath was so bad that no one wanted him in their face for good reason. Him and his owner moved into my house. Cujo became great friends with my own dogs and every time I would bring them home toys and goodies I would also bring home things for Cujo too. My own dogs would take their toys right away but Cujo would never touch them. We also noticed him being slow to eat his food and would growl anytime he is was picked up. It was decided to bring him in to have his mouth examined.   At the vet: Cujo went to the vet and it was decided he would benefit from a dental, but it was suspected he would just need to do a scale and polish and that hopefully that would eliminate or resolve the the bad breath. This was estimated by an oral exam revealing the teeth had moderate tarter with no major bone loss or problems noted.   Day of Dental: On the day of Cujo's dental it was done with general anesthesia to get a good look in his mouth and prevent him from feeling any pain. Upon further inspection of the mouth, it was discovered that 6 teeth actually needed to be extracted. All dentals should have dental radiographs included when you go in and this is the reason why. The very last tooth that was extracted was a little mobile. It was less mobile than the other teeth but just enough to have us question it and decided upon extraction. Upon extraction it was discovered that this tooth had a large tooth root abscess, meaning the abscess was under the gums and not obvious. This is one of the many reasons dental radiographs are so important as they will show us things undiscoverable to the eye such as a root tooth abscess! Up to 80% of dental disease is below the gum line! After all this he was woken back up and given medications to help him heal and feel better.   After dental: Immediately after the dental Cujo's breath was significantly better! He started to growl less when we interacted with him in ways such as picking him up or playing with him. He started to eat his food more promptly when given. All around he seemed to just be much happier!     Written by: Ashley G, VT Edited by: Megan K, DVM   Resources: Veterinary Partner: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952516    

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