It is possible to prevent your pet from developing diabetes which should be the ideal you strive for as a pet owner.
Since obesity is a key risk factor for diabetes, it is important to determine if your pet is obese. As pet breeds differ in size and body type, establishing a standard weight can be challenging. However, this simple test can give you a good idea of whether your pet is obese.
- Feel your pet’s rib cage with your hands. You should be able to feel the ribs.
- Look at your pet in profile. The abdomen should be tucked up under the rib cage, not distended or hanging.
- Take an overhead look at your pet. You should be able to see a waist behind the ribs if your pet is at a healthy weight.
- If you are still unsure, consult your veterinarian.
If you have determined that your pet is obese, the next step is to get it to a healthy weight. Ensuring that your pet enjoys a healthy, appropriate diet is another way to help prevent diabetes.
As with humans, fewer calories and increased activity are the keys to weight loss. Reduced calorie pet food and strict portion control are key strategies in helping your pet lose weight.
Cats and dogs have very different nutritional needs. The recommendation for cats is a high protein, low-carbohydrate diet, preferably of meat with no added sugars. In some cases, diabetic cats can experience remission by diet changes alone. Dogs that are at risk for diabetes can benefit from a higher fiber content in their diet. But, an improved diet will not benefit your pets if they won’t eat it. So, a certain amount of trial and error may be involved in finding the right balance.
Treats can still be a part of a weight loss plan, provided they are healthy and low in calories. Dinner table scraps and sugary treats should never be a part of your pets diet and if they are they must be completely eliminated!
Increasing physical activity in overweight or obese cats and dogs is also important. Exercise utilizes energy and helps to avoid high blood sugar levels. In addition, the increased blood flow produced by exercise may improve insulin absorption by helping to further lower the blood glucose concentration.
Dogs will benefit from increased walking and/or running to burn additional calories.You can do this through regular walks every day with your pet – an added bonus is it’s good for you too!
While indoor cats have less opportunity for exercise, adding play with chase style toys can help them increase their activity level. Your vet may be able to suggest additional ways to address animal obesity.Exercise is just as important for diabetic dogs as it is for non-diabetic dogs.
For many diabetic cats, strenuous exercise is not possible due to obesity or nerve damage.
Finally, it is important for every pet owner to become aware of the symptoms of pet diabetes. While diabetes is easily treatable and need not be life-threatening, early detection and treatment are essential. If you see any of the following symptoms contact your veterinarian immediately: sudden weight loss or gain; excessive drinking and/or urination; change in appetite, either a marked increase (up to three times normal) or loss of appetite; and, weakness and lethargy, particularly in the back limbs.