Diabetes: Starvation in Times of Plenty

Diabetes: Starvation in Times of Plenty

Diabetes in animals is very similar to the disease in humans. It’s often referred to as ‘Starvation in Plenty’ because your pet will be eating very well but continually loses weight.

Some common signs that your pet may be diabetic include excessive drinking of water, urinating more than normal and unexpected weight loss.

So how does diabetes come about? Most of the food our pets eat is turned into glucose (sugar) for their bodies to use for energy. Insulin enables this process and a lack of insulin production from the pancreas means that sugars provided by their food don’t make it into the cells and remains in their blood.

Too much sugar in the blood is dangerous and your animal’s defense is to pass it out in the urine, but this requires more water leading to excessive urination, and your pet has to compensate by drinking more. Another side effect is that the sugar in the urine provides an excellent growth medium for bacteria – meaning diabetic animals are more prone to recurrent urine infections.

The main problem, however, is that the brain cannot function without glucose. If the brain’s glucose levels drop too low the body panics and breaks down fats to use as an energy source, which can lead to diabetic crisis, coma and even death.

Once diabetes develops, your pet will most likely require life-long insulin injections which can be costly and reduce the quality of life for both you and your pet.

Testing for diabetes can often be performed via a quick urine test, which can highlight problems early on and allow time to start treatment before your pet gets too poorly. As always, prevention is better than the cure – the best thing to prevent diabetes is to control your pet’s bodyweight and ensure they are not eating food which has excessive sugars.

If you have any questions or concerns about diabetes, always speak to your vet.