Managing diabetic pets at home is good for you and your pet

By Family Features,
Published on Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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Managing diabetic pets at home is good for you and your pet

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Chances are good that you know someone who has diabetes. However, you may not realize this disease that commonly affects humans is on the rise among dogs and cats.

Like humans, a diagnosis of diabetes requires lifestyle changes and heightened health monitoring, yet with proper care, your pet can live a full and active life. During a recent four-year study, hospitals have seen a 32 percent jump in cases of canine diabetes and a 16 percent increase in feline diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body cannot process glucose (sugar) into cells, resulting in too much glucose in the blood and not enough glucose in the cells for energy. Untreated, diabetes can be fatal in dogs and cats, but veterinary care and at-home blood glucose monitoring can help you manage the disease in your four-legged friends.

The first step is identifying warning signs of diabetes in your pet. Certain risk factors may increase the chances of your pet getting diabetes. In both dogs and cats, these include age, obesity and breeds with a genetic predisposition. Signs of diabetes in pets are often very similar to those in humans and include fatigue or weakness, increased hunger, weight loss, increased thirst and increased urination. If you observe one or more of these signs, consult with your veterinarian to determine the cause.

If your veterinarian diagnoses diabetes, he/she will create a management plan that addresses your pet’s dietary and dental care needs. The plan also will call for monitoring blood glucose levels and often include a prescription for insulin.

Diet and exercise

Diabetic pets are usually prescribed diets that minimize blood sugar spikes. For diabetic dogs, diets high in fiber are typical because they are lower in carbohydrates — the source of sugar — and take longer to digest. For diabetic cats, your veterinarian may recommend a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

Exercise and physical activity are also important when managing diabetic pets. In general, physical activity and exercise lower blood glucose levels. This is why consistency in your pet's daily exercise schedule is important.

At-home monitoring

The goal of pet diabetes management is to make pets feel better by controlling glucose levels and minimizing the risk of complications. Monitoring of blood glucose is one way to assess the diabetes management plan. While veterinarians can test at the office, research shows both biological and psychosocial benefits of using at-home blood glucose monitoring systems. Monitoring blood glucose at home helps you follow your veterinarian's prescribed management plan while eliminating the pet's stress over frequent veterinarian visits.

Successful diabetes management is achieved through compliance with your pet's prescribed plan, at-home blood glucose monitoring and consistent communication and follow-up appointments with your veterinarian.

SOURCE: Zoetis / AlphaTRAK



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