Pet’s and Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a condition caused by the body’s inability to either produce or use insulin, affecting the level of glucose, or sugar, in your pet’s blood. Insulin is a hormone made and released by specialized cells in the pancreas in response to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The glucose comes from your pet’s food. As food passes through the intestines during digestion, sugars are one of the nutrients absorbed from the food. The sugars are transported into the cells that line the intestines and are converted into simple sugars. The simple sugars are then absorbed into the bloodstream for circulation and delivered to the pet’s tissues and cells. Glucose is one of these simple sugars, and an important source of energy. Insulin is required for the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. Diabetes mellitus develops when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or when the body’s cells are unable to use available insulin to take glucose from the blood. If there is not enough insulin or the body is unable to use the insulin, glucose accumulates in high levels in the blood, a condition called hyperglycemia. Although there are high levels of glucose in the blood, there is not enough glucose transported into the body’s cells, resulting in the cells not functioning normally, and, the tissues become starved for energy. This causes the body to breakdown fat and muscle tissue, which is then converted by the liver to sugar. This results in the weight loss and lethargy often seen in diabetic patients. When the glucose in the bloodstream reaches a certain level, the glucose overflows into the urine (this is called glucosuria) and draws large volumes of water with it, causing the pet to drink more and urinate more frequently.
Healthy pets produce insulin easily, but pets with diabetes don’t. After a pet is diagnosed and treatment for diabetes begins, periodic blood and urine tests may be recommended to help ensure that the insulin dosage is right for your dog. Many dogs live active, happy lives once their diabetes is well regulated. However, insulin therapy and regular monitoring at home and by your veterinarian are necessary for the rest of your dog’s life.
Signs & Symptoms