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Posted on 04-05-2015

~~My Pet is drinking more water…

Is your pet drinking more than he used to?  Is he having accidents in the house, especially at night?  Is he losing weight despite eating normally?

If you answered yes to those three questions, your pet may have diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine (hormone) disease where the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for cells to absorb glucose (blood sugar) from the blood stream.  Without sufficient insulin, blood glucose continues to rise and the cells must resort to alternative energy sources (fats and proteins).

The most common symptoms owners notice in diabetic patients are drinking more water, urinating larger volumes or more frequently, urinary accidents in the house and weight loss.  All of these symptoms are caused by increased blood glucose.  As glucose in the blood stream increases, the kidneys become unable to prevent loss of glucose in the urine.  As urine glucose concentrations increase, more water is lost in the urine due to a process called osmosis.  This increased water loss can make an animal dehydrated and will cause them to drink more.  Because the body can’t use glucose for energy, diabetic patients tend to lose weight because much of their energy (calories) is being lost in their urine.

Diabetes in dogs and cats differs somewhat.  In dogs, the pancreas does not produce any insulin (insulin dependent diabetes); whereas in cats there is a relative reduction in the amount of insulin compared to the body’s need for insulin (non-insulin dependent diabetes).   Diabetic dogs will always need insulin treatment, but cats may get by with a controlled diet or correction of other underlying diseases that may be interfering with the action of insulin.  If insulin is prescribed for your pet by your veterinarian he/she will instruct you on how much to give and how often the medication should be administered.

Untreated diabetes is life threatening.  Patients with uncontrolled diabetes may go into a coma and may never recover without aggressive and expensive emergency care.  Daily control of blood glucose is important and with practice, will become part of your pet’s daily routine.

Diabetic patients should maintain regular check-ups with their veterinarian.  Tests to monitor blood glucose levels, electrolytes, liver and kidney values, blood pressure, and screening for urinary tract infections are very important.  Your veterinarian will explain these tests to you and let you know which ones are necessary at each recheck visit.

While treating animals for diabetes it is important to monitor a few things.  The most important parameter to monitor is your pet’s appetite.  If a diabetic patient is not eating or is eating very well and losing weight he should be seen by your veterinarian.  Vomiting, lethargy (sluggishness), and seizures are more serious complications sometimes seen in diabetic patients and these signs should be investigated immediately (at the veterinary emergency clinic if necessary).

So if your pet is drinking or urinating a lot, or he has been losing weight despite eating well please schedule an appointment with your Elm Creek Animal Hospital veterinarian and ask for more information about these symptoms.  It may save your pet’s life.

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