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November is nationally recognized as American Diabetes Month, a month focused on raising awareness about diabetes in people. Not as commonly known is that November is also recognized as Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. A growing epidemic amongst our pets, recognizing and spreading awareness about diabetes in dogs and cats is vital to helping pet owners spot and treat the disorder early.
Drinking more water than usual, known as polydipsia, is an early warning sign of diabetes.
Urinating more frequently, producing more urine throughout the day, or having “accidents” in the house may mean your cat or dog has developed polyuria, another early warning sign of diabetes that goes hand in hand with polydipsia.
If your cat or dog suddenly acts as if it is always starving, despite eating the usual amount (known as polyphagia), and maintains or loses weight despite increased food intake, this can be a sign of diabetes as well.
Though a diabetic pet may show signs of being hungrier than ever, sudden weight loss is a common occurrence because diabetes can cause an increased metabolism.
Obesity can actually cause diabetes to develop; therefore, if your pet is obese you should keep an eye on it to determine if it is developing any symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetes can cause wasting of back muscles or weakness in the back legs of cats. With dogs there may just be a general sense of lethargy, being less active, or sleeping more.
Thinning, dry, or dull hair, particularly along the back. Thinning hair is generally a symptom of some illness, diabetes included, so it is best to visit your veterinarian to determine the cause.
A common complication of diabetes in dogs is cataracts, or cloudy eyes. Cataracts can lead to blindness if not monitored.
A later sign of diabetes in dogs and cats is ketoacidosis, metabolic acidosis caused by the breakdown of fat and proteins in the liver in response to insulin deficiency. Ketones in the body in high amounts are toxic, and this imbalance in the body of your pet can cause depression.
Another side effect of ketoacidosis, if your pet’s diabetes has escalated to this point before it’s been recognized, is vomiting. Ketoacidosis is more commonly found in older pets and in females. Dachshunds and Miniature Poodles are also predisposed to it.