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Diabetes in Cats: Prevention and Treatment

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“Does My Cat Have Diabetes?”

Know the Warning Signs:

Early symptoms:
•   Excessive water consumption
•   Increased urine production
•   Increased appetite
•   Weight loss
•   Lethargy

Advanced stage symptoms
•   Dehydration
•   Vomiting
•   Labored breathing
•   Acetone smell on breath
•   Diabetic coma

If you suspect that your cat may be diabetic, contact your veterinarian for an immediate appointment.  Early diagnosis is essential to managing diabetes in cats. Dietary changes and appropriate treatment can help manage this condition in cats and prevent further health complications.

Diabetes in cats, also known as feline diabetes mellitus, is an increasingly common disease affecting 1 out of every 400 cats. Obesity is the leading risk factor for diabetes.

"Overweight or obese cats are two to four times more likely to develop diabetes than cats with a healthy body weight," says board-certified veterinary nutrition specialist Dorothy Laflamme, DVM, PhD, DACVN.

Diabetes is a progressive disease. In the early stages, a cat may try to compensate for the body’s inability to metabolize glucose by increasing food consumption. Symptoms of early diabetes are frequent urination, increased thirst and appetite, and unexplained weight loss. Kidney disease and hyperthyroidism are two diseases that can mimic the symptoms of diabetes. A veterinarian can diagnose diabetes using blood and urine tests.

All diabetic cats are started on insulin. Your veterinarian will decide which kind of insulin to use, what dose should be administered, and will show you how to give these injections at home. Don't worry, the needles are very small and many cats don't even know they're being injected. Your cat will need monitoring to determine the response to treatment, this may include both blood tests and indicators you use in the litter box. Dietary changes to a high protein, low-carbohydrate diet are essential to help diabetic cats regulate blood sugar levels.  The good news is that 70% of these patients eventually do not need insulin.

Some cats may require hospitalization following a diabetes diagnosis. These cats are typically suffering from a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which occurs when fatty-acid by-products build up in the blood stream. These byproducts, known as ketones, build up because of the cat’s inability to metabolize glucose. Symptoms of DKA include the smell of acetone on the cat’s breath (similar to nail polish remover), extreme lethargy, vomiting, and rapid, labored breathing.

Without intervention, a severely diabetic cat may slip into a diabetic coma and even die. Diabetes can also lead to other health complications, including kidney and bladder infections, abnormal gait due to a neuropathy, and muscle loss.

Most cats, however, do not require hospitalization. Dietary changes and appropriate treatment can help manage diabetes. A low carbohydrate, high protein canned diet can help control diabetes and may even lead to remission. Your veterinarian can make specific dietary recommendations for your cat.

Sources: 

American Animal Hospital Association

Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine

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Clinic Hours

Day
Monday8:00am5:30pm
Tuesday8:00am5:30pm
Wednesday8:00am5:30pm
Thursday8:00am5:30pm
Friday8:00am5:30pm
Saturday8:00am12:00pm
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After Hours Emergency & Urgent Care

Northside Animal Clinic is an affiliate of the Jackson Pet Emergency Clinic.

JPEC is located at 2815 N. Highland Ave., Ste E. We have a veterinarian and personnel on duty 7 days a week who are trained and equipped to handle any urgent care your pet has. Usually an emergency team consists of at least one veterinarian and several technicians working together to save a pet's life.

Emergencies can be things such as snail bait poisoning, hit by car, and chocolate ingestion. If you ever feel that your pet needs emergency treatment do not hesitate to call or come in immediately. If possible it is best to call before coming in so that a team member can advise you on your particular emergency. JPEC is open all holidays, weekends, and after regular business hours. The phone number is: 731-660-4343.

Testimonial

Dr. Kenneth Edwards and his Team at Northside Animal Clinic have been our veterinary care group for at least 12 years. The longevity of the relationship is due solely to the extraordinarily capable and conscientious care our pets have received.

Mona and Ivy Scarborough
Jackson, TN