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Diabetes and Your Pet

Just as with humans, diabetes mellitus is a serious health problem for pets. No matter what form of diabetes your pet has, it has difficulty processing sugar correctly. This forces your pet’s cells to use other sources of energy, such as fat and muscle proteins. When its body uses fat for energy, it releases a byproduct called ketone, which can cause the acids in your pet’s body to become too high. This results in a malfunctioning brain that can cause your pet to lapse into a coma. Free radicals are also released when this happens, which can cause damage to the heart, nerves, blood vessels, kidneys, and the eyes. Over time, this damage can lead to nerve deterioration, cataracts, paralysis, blindness, gangrene, and kidney disease.

Distinguishing Between Types of Diabetes

Your pet can suffer from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes is often referred to as juvenile diabetes. With this form of diabetes, which begins at a young age, your pet will require regular insulin shots to regulate the levels of sugar in its blood. This is the type of diabetes most dogs with diabetes suffer from.
  • With type 2 diabetes, referred to as adult onset diabetes, your pet will not need to have regular injections of insulin. Instead, you will need to control the disease with a proper diet, weight loss, and oral medications. Generally, pets suffering from type 2 diabetes are overweight, but there is still a genetic link to the disease. Cats are prone to developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Treating the Diabetic Coma

Diabetic comas, which occur when the pet gets too much sugar, are a potential side effect of diabetes. Even providing your pet with too much insulin can lead to a diabetic coma because it will cause your pet’s blood sugar levels to fall too dramatically. When this happens, your pet’s brain cannot get the necessary sugar to function properly. In an effort to preserve itself, the brain shuts down and falls into a coma. To prevent this from happening, you need to make sure your pet’s sugar levels are properly maintained.

A coma can also be caused when the blood sugar level is too high. This type of coma, which is caused when the sugar pulls water away from the cells in the body, can be fatal if left untreated because the pet becomes dehydrated. As a result, your pet loses potassium, sodium, chloride, and electrolytes it needs to live and to function properly. To treat this type of coma, your pet will need fluids and insulin, as well as sodium, potassium, and electrolytes.

A pet with diabetes can still live a long, healthy life so long as it is properly cared for. Be sure to work closely with your veterinarian to ensure you are following the proper diet regimen.

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