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November is Pet Diabetes Month

Does Your Dog Have Diabetes?
November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. Did you know cats and dogs can get diabetes just like humans? In fact, many pets can have their diabetes controlled just by changing their diet. Does your dog have cataracts? It could be a side effect of diabetes. Changing your dog's diet is the first step. Sadly, as with humans, diabetes in pets is on the rise. Look for subtle changes like excessive hunger with weight loss, fatigue, excessive thirst and urination, and a lackluster coat.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) deputy executive director, Janice Trumpeter, DVM, "Diabetes is a treatable condition that requires a committed effort by the veterinarian and pet owner. With appropriate pet owner commitment, monitoring and a thorough understanding of the variables that are within veterinary control, diabetes can be managed."

Diabetes Explained
The AAHA characterizes diabetes as a disease caused by a lack of insulin. It is the body's inability to utilize the insulin properly which then affects the levels of sugar (glucose) in your pet's blood. Glucose comes from the food your dog eats. The food is broken down into very small components by your pet's digestive system so their body can use it for energy.

What Goes Wrong When Your Pet Has Diabetes
According to the AAHA, insulin (which is produced by the pancreas) is required for the cells to absorb glucose. If you dog or cat has diabetes, unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream and they cannot produce insulin easily

Diabetes Can Lead to Other Health Problems
It is not unusual for dogs to develop other health problems as a consequence of diabetes. One complication from the disease is cataracts which makes the lens of the eyes opaque and can cause blindness.

Which Pets are at Risk of Developing Diabetes?
The AAHA suggests that factors (e.g. age, breed) can increase a dog's chances of developing diabetes.

Risk factors (according to the AAHA) include:

* Genetics
* Obesity
* Age (The older a dog gets, the more likely they are to develop diabetes)
* Unspayed females (yet another reason to spay your female dog in addition to preventing breast cancer)
* Breed (e.g. American cocker spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pomeranians, Terriers, Toy Poodles).

Determining if your Dog has Diabetes
If you suspect your dog might suffer from diabetes, the first thing you should do is bring your dog to the veterinarian. In addition to an exam, your veterinarian will take a sample of your dog's urine to test for the presence of glucose. If glucose is present, your pet's blood will take blood from your dog to determine the blood glucose level.

Treating a Dog with Diabetes
Once your dog is diagnosed with diabetes you will have to inject insulin daily to control your dog's insulin level. A change in diet (to one that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates) is also recommended to help regulate your dog's diabetes. Daily exercise is also important for dogs with diabetes to control their weight. Click here to read "Is Your Dog Fat?" to learn how to reduce your dog's weight.

*Source: AAHA

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