What is diabetes and is it common in your pets?
Diabetes is sometimes diagnosed as the result of a routine blood test. Most pets are diagnosed because the owner noticed one or more of the primary signs:
- Polyuria (frequent or excessive urination),
- Polydipsia (frequent or excessive drinking) Weight loss despite eating well Is always hungry and eats more, but loses weight anyway,
- Other clinical signs diabetics may include: cataracts, increased appetite, exercise intolerance and recurrent infections
What is Diabetes?
The digestive system breaks food down into various parts, including glucose which enters the bloodstream. In turn, the body’s cells absorb glucose to use for energy. Insulin is the hormone that signals the cells to take up the glucose – without it, the glucose stays in the blood.
In a normal digestive system, the arrival of food stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin into the bloodstream to regulate glucose levels.
More food means more insulin.
At its simplest, diabetes is a disorder of this process. If there isn’t enough insulin or if insulin can’t act properly on cells, the glucose level in the blood stays too high and the glucose is not available for the cells to use as energy.
Types of diabetes
One type of diabetes occurs when insulin is either not produced or too little is produced by the pancreas. The pancreas may malfunction due to a virus, to steroid medications, and possibly due to dietary deficiencies.
There is also a form of diabetes where insulin is produced and dispensed (secreted), but the cells don’t “hear the message” – though the mechanism is different, the outcome is similar. Some of the damage diabetes does to the body is due to the glucose staying in the blood but a lot is due to the fact that for lack of glucose, the cells malfunction.
The body begins to die of starvation because cells cannot reproduce themselves when their life span is complete (a matter of weeks).
The object of diabetes treatment is to control the blood glucose so it stays in (or near) the normal range, as it would be if the pancreas were still producing insulin naturally. The pancreas would naturally regulate blood sugars by slowly releasing insulin. For food to be properly utilised, insulin must be available to convert the food into a useable state.
Injected insulin is the best treatment option.
Feeding has a huge effect on blood glucose levels and must be regulated.
Your vet will give you a treatment and feeding regime that will keep your diabetic pet as healthy and happy
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