Diabetes can affect both cats and dogs of any age. The condition occurs due to low or ineffective insulin levels in your pet’s body, which prevents your pet from properly processing glucose and turning it into energy. Worsening diabetes can lead to life-threatening conditions such as kidney failure, seizures and even death. Fortunately, this condition can be avoided!
If you’re worried your furry friend might develop diabetes, it’s time to start taking preventative measures. There are plenty of steps you can take to help safeguard your pet against diabetes, including adjusting their diet, giving them regular exercise and taking them to the vet for routine checkups. Here are four tips to be aware of to protect your pet’s lifelong health.
1. Be mindful of food and eating habits
Make sure your pet is getting all the nutrients they need from their food without excessive carbs or filler ingredients. This means paying closer attention to the ingredients on the label of the pet food you regularly buy or one you might be thinking about switching over to. With so many food options on the market, it can be hard to decide which food will work best for your pets. This is why it’s a good idea to discuss pet food with your vet, who can point you to a formula with the right nutritional makeup for your pet’s particular health needs.
When choosing food to help prevent diabetes, there are certain considerations pet owners need to think about. For example, it’s recommended that dogs eat foods high in fiber, while cats should have high-protein, low-carbohydrate options. Understand how macronutrients affect your pet and do research on any food brands you’re considering to make sure they’re diabetes-friendly.
Portion control is also an important aspect to consider. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for pet diabetes, so you’ll want to make sure your pet maintains a healthy weight—and this starts with their portions! Portion size can depend on the type and brand of food you’re giving your pet, so be sure to read the instructions or consult your vet.
2. Give your pet plenty of exercise
Just like with humans, exercise is an important part of maintaining your pet’s weight and preventing health problems like diabetes. The amount of exercise your pet needs can vary on their breed and size, but it’s a good idea to make sure your pet gets some exercise daily out of practice. Large dogs might require multiple long walks to get the exercise they need, while smaller cats might only need several moments of playtime throughout the day.
While energetic pets can keep themselves entertained well enough, there’s no substitute for playtime! Toss a ball with your pup, drag a string for your cat, go for a walk or give chase and watch them follow—whatever it takes to get the blood pumping. Just be sure to check with your vet about how much exercise your pet needs, as you don’t want them to over-exercise or injure themselves.
3. Visit the vet regularly for checkups
Speaking of the vet, routine checkups are vital in preventing diabetes. At these routine visits, the vet can perform blood tests that will help them determine the best methods of diabetes prevention (or treatment). While you’re there, you can also ask about any pet food and medication recommendations they might have for a pet that’s living with diabetes or on the cusp of the condition.
If you notice your pet has been more lethargic or is losing their appetite, it’s best to bring them to a vet right away. While minor issues can cause certain symptoms like excessive thirst, they could also be a sign of diabetes. It’s better to know and treat accordingly.
4. Spay your female pets
Another method of diabetes prevention many pet owners don’t know about has to do with spaying a female pet. Progesterone is a hormone present in female animals that can cause insulin levels to fluctuate uncontrollably. This is especially true when your animal is pregnant, is in heat or has just given birth. Spaying a female pet will help regulate their hormone levels, which may, in turn, help prevent diabetes.
How do I know if my pet has diabetes?
There are several ways to tell if your furry friend has developed diabetes, in spite of your preventative measures. Excessive thirst, frequent urination, problems with vision and weight loss are just a few of the symptoms they might experience. They may also show changes in their personality, which could include laziness and depression. Diabetes can also manifest in more dangerous symptoms, including seizures, urinary tract infections and kidney failure.
If your pet is already suffering from diabetes, insulin medication is something to discuss with your vet. They’ll likely also recommend a specialized diet and exercise program.
While diabetes is a chronic condition your pet will need to adapt to, it can be prevented in cats and dogs using certain methods. Abide by the above four tips and make sure to consult your vet immediately if you notice signs or symptoms that signal diabetes.