Top Ten Emergencies in Cats

Cats often become reclusive and hide when they are not feeling well which makes knowing when they need to be seen by your veterinarian a challenge. They have unique signs and symptoms of emergency conditions that often go unrecognized by their owners. Some injuries are obvious, such as a cat with an open wound, while others have more subtle signs that can be equally deadly if left untreated. Knowing what signs to look for is crucial in determining when to seek emergency care for your cat. Below is a list of some of the most common cat emergencies and their signs.

Urethral Obstruction

This is a condition in which a cat, usually male, is unable to urinate due to a blockage in the urethra (the tube leading from the urinary bladder to the outside environment).

Cats will show a sudden onset of restless behavior which includes frequent trips in and out of the litter box. They will often attempt to urinate in unusual places such as in a bath tub or on a plastic bag. You may notice a very small stream of urine that contains blood. More often than not, despite a cat’s straining, there may be no urine or even just a drop produced. In later stages of the obstruction, cats may cry loudly, vomit, and become lethargic.

You should consider these signs a serious emergency and seek veterinary care immediately. There are reports of cats developing kidney failure and dying within 12 hours after the onset of signs. Expect your cat to be hospitalized at least 36 hours for treatment of this condition which may include a urinary catheter, intravenous fluids, and pain management. Female cats are less likely to become obstructed due to their wider urinary tract.

Toxicities (Poisoning)

The combination of their curious nature and unique metabolism (the way their body breaks down chemicals) makes cats very vulnerable to toxins. Owners are often not aware that their home contains multiple products that are poisonous to their feline companions. The most common cat toxins include antifreeze, Tylenol, and rat or mouse poison.

The signs your cat displays depends on what type of poison they have encountered. Antifreeze will often cause wobbliness or a drunken appearance first, then progresses to vomiting/weakness as the kidneys fail. Tylenol may cause an unusual swelling of the head and changes the cats blood color from red to chocolate brown. Rat or mouse poison interferes with blood clotting so you may see weakness from internal blood loss or visible blood in urine or stool.

Breathing Problems

Many times cats hide the signs of breathing problems by simply decreasing their activity. By the time an owner notices changes in the cat’s breathing, it may be very late in the progression of the cat’s lung disease. There are several causes of breathing changes but the most common are feline asthma, heart or lung disease.

Foreign Object Ingestion

As you know cats love to play with strings or string-like objects (such as dental floss, holiday tinsel, or ribbon), however, you may not know the serious danger that strings can pose to your cat. When a string is ingested, one end may become lodged or “fixed” in place, often under the cat’s tongue, while the remaining string passes farther into the intestine. With each intestinal contraction, the string see-saws back and forth actually cutting into the intestine and damaging the blood supply.

Signs that your cat has eaten a foreign object may include vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and weakness. Occasionally owners will actually see part of a string coming from the mouth or anal area. You should never pull on any part of the string that is visible from your pet.

Most times emergency surgery is necessary to remove the foreign object and any damaged sections of intestine.

Bite Wounds

Cats are notorious for both inflicting and suffering bite wounds during encounters with other cats. Because the tips of their canine, or “fang”, teeth are so small and pointed, bites are often not noticed until infection sets in several days after the injury.

Cats may develop a fever and become lethargic 48 to 72 hours after experiencing a penetrating bite wound. They may be tender or painful at the site. If the wound becomes infected or abscessed, swelling and foul-smelling drainage may develop.

You should seek emergency care for bite wounds so that your veterinarian may thoroughly clean the area and prescribe appropriate antibiotics for your pet. Occasionally the wounds will develop large pockets called abscesses under the skin that require surgical placement of a drain to help with healing.

Hit by car

Cats that spend time outdoors are at a much greater risk for ending up in the emergency room. Being hit by a car is one of the most common reasons for your pet to suffer traumatic injuries such as broken bones, lung injuries and head trauma. You should always seek emergency care if your cat has been hit by a vehicle even if he or she appears normal as many injuries can develop or worsen over the next few hours.

Increased Thirst and Urination

Sudden changes in your cat’s thirst and urine volume are important clues to underlying disease. The two most common causes of these signs are kidney disease and diabetes mellitus.

Your veterinarian will need to check blood and urine samples to determine the cause of your cat’s signs. Having your pet seen on an emergency basis for these signs is important as the sooner your pet receives treatment, the better their chances for recovery. Many times exposure to certain toxins, such as antifreeze or lilies, will show similar signs and delaying veterinary care can be fatal.

Sudden inability to use the hind legs

Cats with some forms of heart disease are at risk for developing blood clots. Many times these clots can lodge in a large blood vessel called the aorta where they can prevent normal blood flow to the hind legs. If your cat experiences such a blood clotting episode (often called a saddle thrombus or thromboembolic episode), you will likely see a sudden loss of the use of their hind legs, painful crying, and breathing changes.

On arrival at the emergency room, your pet will receive pain management and oxygen support. Tests will be done to evaluate the cat’s heart and determine if there is any heart failure (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Sadly, such an episode is often the first clue for an owner that their cat has severe heart disease. In most cases, with time and support, the blood clot can resolve, but the cat’s heart disease will require life-long treatment.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Cats and kittens can experience a variety of upper respiratory diseases caused by a combination of bacteria or viruses. Upper respiratory infections, or URIs, often cause sneezing, runny noses, runny eyes, lack of appetite, and fever. In severe cases, they can cause ulcers in the mouth, tongue, and eyes. More often than not, severe cases are seen in cats that have recently been in multiple-cat environments such as shelters. Small or poor-doing kittens are also easily infected and may develop more severe complications such as low blood sugar.

Sudden Blindness

A sudden loss of vision is most likely to occur in an older cat. The most common causes are increased blood pressure (hypertension) that may be due to changes in thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) or kidney disease. There are some cats that appear to have hypertension with no other underlying disease.

Sudden blindness should be treated as an emergency and your veterinarian will measure your cat’s blood pressure, check blood tests, and start medications to try to lower the pressure and restore vision.

Anytime you notice a change in your cat’s eyes, whether they lose vision or not, you should consider this an emergency have your pet seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

 

 

SOURCE: http://www.cathealth.com/safety/top-ten-emergencies-in-cats

E-Cigarettes and Pets Do Not Mix

E-cigarettes are sparking heated debates as lawmakers, medical professionals and industry grapple over the relative safety of the nicotine-delivering devices. But for pet owners, there is no debate. Nicotine poses a serious threat of poisoning to dogs and cats, and e-cigarettes back a powerful punch. The problem is that many pet owners don’t realize it.

Pet Poison Helpline has encountered a sharp uptick in calls concerning cases of nicotine poisoning in pets that ingested e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine refill solution. In fact, over the past six months, cases have more than doubled, indicating that along with their increased popularity, the nicotine-delivering devices are becoming a more significant threat to pets. While dogs account for the majority of cases, nicotine in e-cigarettes and liquid refill solution is toxic to cats as well. “We’ve handled cases for pets poisoned by eating traditional cigarettes or tobacco products containing nicotine for many years,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT and associate director of veterinary services at Pet Poison Helpline. “But, as the use of e-cigarettes has become more widespread, our call volume for cases involving them has increased considerably.” In an effort to educate pet owners before an accident occurs, Pet Poison Helpline offers this important safety information.

 

What are e-cigarettes? 

E-cigarettes are simply another way of delivering nicotine. Designed to resemble traditional cigarettes, the battery operated devices atomize liquid that contains nicotine, turning it into a vapor that can be inhaled. The most recent craze is flavored e-cigarettes, which are available in an array of flavors from peppermint to banana cream pie, and everything in between.

 

What makes e-cigarettes toxic to pets? 

The aroma of liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can be alluring to dogs, and flavored e-cigarettes could be even more enticing. The issue is the amount of nicotine in each cartridge, which is between 6 mg and 24 mg. So, each cartridge contains the nicotine equivalent of one to two traditional cigarettes, but purchase packs of five to 100 cartridges multiply that amount many times over, posing a serious threat to pets who chew them. For example, if a single cartridge is ingested by a 50-pound dog, clinical signs of poisoning are likely to occur. But if a dog that weighs 10 pounds ingests the same amount, death is possible. Dogs of any weight that ingest multiple e-cigarette cartridges are at risk for severe poisoning and even death. In addition to the toxicity of nicotine, the actual e-cigarette casing can result in oral injury when chewed, and can cause gastrointestinal upset with the risk of a foreign body obstruction. Some e-cigarette users buy vials of liquid nicotine solution for refilling e-cigarette cartridges. The solution is commonly referred to as “e-liquid” or “e-juice.” The small bottles hold enough liquid to fill multiple cartridges, meaning they contain a considerable amount of nicotine. Pet owners should be very careful to store them out of the reach of pets.

 

What happens when e-cigarettes are ingested by pets?

Nicotine poisoning in pets has a rapid onset of symptoms – generally within 15 to 60 minutes following ingestion. Symptoms for dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, elevations in heart rate and respiration rate, depression, tremors, ataxia, weakness, seizures, cyanosis, coma, and cardiac arrest.

 

What to do if a pet is exposed?

Because nicotine poisoning can happen so rapidly following ingestion, prompt veterinary care can mean the difference between life and death for a pet. Home care is not generally possible with nicotine exposure due to the severity of poisoning, even in small doses. Take action immediately by contacting a veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680. As always, prevention is the best medicine. E-cigarettes, cartridges and vials of refilling solution should always be kept out of the reach of pets and children.

 

SOURCE: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2014/09/e-cigarettes-pets-mix/   Published on September 2, 2014

 

Scents and Sensitivity: Dogs Know When We’re Happy or Angry

Science is proving what pet owners have long believed: Dogs understand what we’re feeling. Specifically, dogs can recognize the difference between a happy and an angry human face, a study published Thursday in Current Biology suggests.

It’s the first research to show definitively that dogs are sensitive to our facial expressions, says coauthor Ludwig Huber, head of comparative cognition at Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

In the Austrian study, 20 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes were taught to play a computer game through a series of exercises. In the first, the dogs were shown two touch screens, one with a circle and one with a square. Through trial and error, they learned that a treat would appear if they chose the right geometrical figure.

Eleven of the 20 dogs were able to catch on to rules of the game and make it to the next phase, where they were shown photos of faces. Half the dogs were rewarded for picking a happy expression and half for choosing an angry expression. The interesting catch: the dogs were shown only the upper half or the lower half of a face.

It was easier to teach the dogs to choose a happy expression than an angry one, suggesting the dogs do indeed understand the meaning behind the expression, Huber says.

As a test, the dogs were then were presented with:

the same half of the faces they saw during the training, but from different people
the other half of the faces used in training
the other half of new faces
the left half of the faces used in training
In the vast majority of cases the dogs chose the right answer 70 to 100 percent of the time.

Dogs who had been trained to recognize an expression of anger or happiness on the upper part of a face could identify the same expression when shown only the lower part, and vice versa, Huber says, adding “the only possible explanation is that they recall from memory of everyday life how a whole human face looks when happy or angry.”

Dog owners know their pets not only recognize emotions but also feel empathy.

Delilah, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, always seems to know when her owner Eva Shure is having a bad day.
Delilah knows when her owner is having a bad day.
Making eye contact and cocking her head to the right, the little dog will stare at Shure’s face as if trying to assess her feelings. “It’s weird, I can see her thinking and processing,” says Shure, a 35-year-old New York City business owner. “I’ll say, yeah, it’s not a great day and she’ll come up and sit next to me.”

Beverly Levreault, 57, says her 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix is always tuned in to her moods. “If I’m not feeling well, like when I have the flu, Lacey is definitely lower key and will not leave my side, ” says Levreault, a graphic designer from Williamstown, New York. “If I take her for a walk, she’s not as rambunctious as she usually is.”

Lynette Whiteman says she’s not sure that her 5-year-old Yorkie-Maltese cross is using facial expressions to gauge how she feels. “But she definitely reads my emotions,” says the 58-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey. “I run a therapy dog program and the dogs are just amazing. They go into a room and immediately pick out the person who needs help.”

Behavioral experts say the new findings, while important, wouldn’t surprise anyone with an intimate knowledge of dogs.
Coco and Lynettte
“This new work continues to build the case for just how sensitive dogs are to our subtle behaviors,” says Dr. Brian Hare, chief scientific officer at Dognition and an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. “This is the strongest evidence yet that dogs are even reading our facial expressions.”

That sensitivity may be the result of generations of selective breeding for a true partner, says Dr. Carlo Siracusa, director of the behavior service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “We have selected animals that are able to perceive our emotions and communicate with us at a level that no other animal can,” Siracusa says.

Dogs may not talk, but they are very good communicators, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and director of the animal behavior clinic at Cummings.

“Just as we are masters of the spoken word, dogs are experts at reading body language,” Dodman says.

“It’s almost impossible to hide your feelings from a dog.”

Turns out, reading facial expressions isn’t the only thing dogs have in common with us.

They can be bitten by the computer gaming bug. “They can really become freaks for it,” Huber says with a chuckle. “They don’t want to stop playing. It’s incredible. They’ll play till they are exhausted and fall asleep.”

 

Source: http://www.today.com/pets/dogs-know-when-were-happy-or-angry-2D80489190

How to be a Cool Cat on a Dog Day

Summer is in full swing nationwide, and we’re seeing a lot of days with soaring temperatures. In order to help your cat beat the heat, CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, has the following suggestions for keeping your cat cool when temperatures rise:

1. Ensure your cat has access to fresh, cool water. “All animals need plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially when it is hot,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of CATalyst Council “Dehydration can occur very quickly and can be dangerous, leading to other complications. You may want to put out additional water bowls for your cat so that it’s easy for them to access in various parts of the house.”

 2. Proper grooming is important. Brushing your cat can help reduce matting, which traps heat near the body and keeps the cat warmer than it would be otherwise. Grooming is also calming for many cats. If you have long haired cats, you may want to consider getting them a new “summer do,” and having their coats clipped shorter to help keep them cool.

 3. Think twice before leaving your cat in your car. A study from Stanford University found that 80 percent of temperature rise in cars occurs within the first 30 minutes of leaving the car, and that even in cooler temperatures cars can quickly become very hot. For instance, at a 72 degree outdoor temperature, the interior of the car could become as hot as 117 degrees. The study also found that cracking the windows did very little to slow the temperature increase within the car. So, if you need to bring your cat with you while you are out and about, think twice before you leave it unattended in your car for even a brief period of time.

 4. Keep your cat indoors. While cats have been described as desert animals, they don’t require the heat of hot summer months. By staying inside, not only will your cat enjoy an extended nap on the sofa, it will also enjoy having a safe environment while still enjoying the sunbeams. Keeping cats indoors also keeps them safe from predators, cars, parasites –which tend to be worse during warmer months– and other dangers. “If you suspect that your cat is suffering from a heat-related illness, take it to your veterinarian immediately,” adds Dr. Brunt. Signs your cat may be overheated include panting, confusion, glazed eyes, agitation, vomiting or drooling, or staggering. Any of these signs should be treated as an emergency situation, and you go to your veterinarian immediately.

 

 

 

Labor Day Safety Tips for Pets

1. Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals.

2. Always assign a dog guardian. No matter where you’re celebrating, be sure to assign a friend or member of the family to keep an eye on your pooch-especially if you’re not in a fenced-in yard or other secure area.

3. Made in the shade. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water, and make sure they have a shady place to escape the sun.

4. Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of paws’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing-or even kidney disease in severe cases.

5. Keep your pet on his normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea.

6. Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingesting any of these items can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression in your pets, and if inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia.

7. Never leave your dog alone in the car. Traveling with your dog means occasionally you’ll make stops in places where he’s not permitted. Be sure to rotate dog walking duties between family members, and never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle.

8. Make a safe splash. Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all dogs are good swimmers.

Source: http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/labor-day-pet-safety-tips

Caring for Pets During Emergencies

Nothing says it better than the horror story from Hurricane Floyd: A man was leaving his flooded home when he noticed a neighbor’s dogs swimming in circles around the yard. Wondering why the dogs didn’t simply swim to safety, the man swam over to investigate. To his horror, he found that the dogs had been left chained to a stake in the yard and were swimming frantically just to stay alive. He was able to rescue the dogs, but stories such as this pointedly demonstrate the need for to you to have a good action plan in place in case a natural disaster strikes your home. In this case, the dogs’ owner most likely had been told to leave everything behind and flee as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, his dogs nearly lost their lives as a result.

In the event of an emergency, your life and your family’s lives are the first you should be concerned with. You should only look to save your animals once you are sure you and your family will be safe. But once you are safe, you most likely will want to ensure the safety of your pets. Are you prepared?

Consider your location

First things first. You can only be prepared with a plan of action if you know what you’re planning for, so take some time to think about the area you live in. Some areas are naturally prone to certain disastersCalifornia’s earthquakes, for example. Find out what types of disasters have previously struck your area hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, etc. Contacting your local emergency management office or Red Cross will help you to identify what could affect your particular neighborhood. You should also plan for non-natural disasters fires, gas leaks, chemical spills, etc. If, for example, there’s a big chemical processing plant in your area, then you need to be aware of the possible dangers so that you can react if need be. No matter where you live, you’ve got your own special brand of disaster just around the corner, and it may strike at any time.

If You Leave, They Leave

In the event that you have to leave your home, take your pets with you. If it isn’t safe for you to be there, it isn’t safe for them either. Too often people rationalize that their pets’ instincts will kick in, and they’ll be okay. Even if your cat, who has spent the last six years of his life hunting only the fake mice you pull around on a string for him, does have the instincts to survive, it doesn’t mean that the conditions are survivable. No drinkable water for you means no drinkable water for him too. Of course, you have to have somewhere to take your four-legged friends–Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets. Make a list of all the places with in a 100-mile radius of your home where you might be able to take your pet if the need arises, include boarding facilities, veterinarians with boarding capabilities, hotels that will accept pets (ask if they’ll allow pets during a disaster situation), and animal shelters. (Use animal shelters only as a last resort, as they will be overburdened with other animals whose owners did not plan for them). Also, you need to gather your critters inside the house as soon as you are aware that you may have to leave, so that you can easily get them when it’s time to go. Then, when you do leave, make sure you have your little friends under firm control–even the best behaved dog can become scared during an emergency, making his behavior less than predictable.

Be prepared

Like a Boy Scout, you should always be prepared. This means having a disaster kit in your home as well as a smaller version in the trunk of your car if your pet routinely rides with you. Make sure that your pet’s kit is contained in something that is easy to pick up quickly and take out the door with you. You should replace this food and water every six months and rethink your pet’s needs for the kit once a year to make sure that the supplies meet your current needs the same collar that fits your new kitten is not likely to fit him a year later.

The kit should include a week’s supply of food and water in nonbreakable, airtight containers to ensure safety and freshness. If you pack canned food you’ll want to make sure you have a hand-held can opener too. And don’t forget a plastic dish that can double as a food and water dish. An extra collar and leash are also important things to have in your kit. You should also have a portable kennel for each of your critters handy. The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that the official Red Cross policy is that there are no animals allowed in emergency shelters, but they have been known to make exceptions if the animal is securely confined. Pets such as birds will obviously have to have a carrier of some sort as they cannot be leashed. You will want to make certain that you have a well-stocked first-aid kit for your pet that includes tweezers, gauze bandages, first aid cream, antiseptic spray, and hydrogen peroxide. Ask your veterinarian about storing any medications that your pet may need to take regularly.

All the right papers

Many people have their home telephone numbers on their pets’ ID tags. You may want to have an extra set of tags made that list the number of a friend or family member outside the area so that if your phone lines are down, or you’ve been evacuated, your pets can still make it back to you. Another option is to simply include an out-of-area number on your pets’ everyday tag, which can be useful if you’re away on vacation too. And many people don’t have tags for their cats at all, even though they should. According to the 1996 National Council on Pet Population Study, out of one million dogs and 580,000 cats that were taken in as strays, only 17 percent of the dogs and two percent of the cats made it back to their owners. The American Humane Association strongly believes that tags are your pets’ ticket home. You may also want to consider having your pet microchipped or tattooed. And finally, don’t forget the paperwork. Have a copy of your pet’s recent vaccination records in your kit–some boarding facilities may require them before they will take your pet in. A recent picture of your pet may also come in handy if you should become separated and need to make “Lost” posters. Hopefully you won’t ever have to put them up, and hopefully you’ll never have to use your disaster plan. But if you do ever need it, you’ll be very thankful that you were prepared; it could make a trying time a bit easier for you and your faithful companion.

Source: http://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/general_health_care/caring_for_pets_during_emergencies.aspx

Car Sickness In Pets

 

Does your dog throw up in the car when you go for rides? He may be experiencing typical motion sickness, just like some people do. Motion sickness usually begins very shortly after starting the car ride. The dog will begin to drool and then vomit. It’s not serious, but certainly not something that we like to clean up! To solve the problem, first try acclimating the dog to car rides. Do this by simply putting him in the car for a few minutes each day without going anywhere. Then try just going down the driveway and back, and the next day going around the block. Gradually build up the distance and time the dog rides in the car.

Sometimes this will help to decrease the dog’s anxiety over riding in the car and may help to decrease vomiting. If that doesn’t work, there are some over-the-counter medications you can try. The medication will need to be given about an hour before the car ride. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation as to what drug to try and the dosage for your pet.

 

(Never give any medications to your pet without your veterinarian’s advice!) These drugs are safe, with drowsiness usually the only major side effect. But since your dog isn’t driving the car, that shouldn’t be a problem! If over-the-counter drugs don’t work, your veterinarian may be able to suggest another method for curing the car sickness.

 

Source: http://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/dog_care/general_health/car_sickness.aspx

 

Pet Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, the medical name for diabetes, is a disease caused by a lack of insulin, or the inability of the body to utilize the insulin properly, that affects the level of glucose, or sugar, in your dog or cat’s blood. The glucose comes from the food that your pet eats. The food is broken down into very small components by the pet’s digestive system so their bodies can use it for energy. Glucose is one of these components, and an important source of energy.

Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream where it travels to cells throughout the body. Insulin is required for the cells to absorb glucose. Insulin is produced by the pancreas in response to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Healthy pets produce insulin easily, but pets with diabetes don’t. In canine and feline diabetes, unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream.

Is diabetes in my pet the same as diabetes in people?

The two conditions are very similar. In fact, your veterinarian will be using medication, equipment, and monitoring systems that are similar to those used for diabetic people.

How common is diabetes in dogs and cats?

Diabetes usually affects less than 1% of dogs and cats. But experts believe that it is on the rise.

Can diabetes lead to other health problems?

Yes. Dogs and cats with diabetes can develop other health problems, usually after living with diabetes for a year or more. For dogs, a common complication of diabetes is cataract formation. Persistently high blood glucose levels can make the lens of the eye opaque, causing blindness. For cats, weakness of the hind legs is a common complication. Persistently high blood glucose levels may damage nerves, causing weakness and muscle wasting. For both dogs and cats, controlling high blood glucose levels can lead to healthier outcomes. For this reason, early diagnosis of diabetes in your dog or cat is important.

Will diabetes affect my dog or cat’s life expectancy?

Today, with effective treatment and monitoring, a diabetic dog or cat should have the same life expectancy as a non-diabetic dog or cat of the same age. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment helps diabetic pets maintain a good quality of life.

Is my dog or cat at risk for diabetes?

While diabetes has been diagnosed in dogs and cats of all ages, genders, and breeds, certain pets are at greater risk for the disease.

Risk factors in dogs

  • Age (middle-aged to older dogs are more affected)
  • Unspayed females
  • Genetics
  • Obesity

Breed—these breeds have a higher risk for developing diabetes:

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Pomeranians
  • Terriers
  • Toy Poodles

Risk factors in cats

  • Age (older cats are more susceptible)
  • Neutered males
  • Genetics
  • Other insulin-resistant disorders or diseases, such as chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or hyperthyroidism (overproduction of thyroid hormones)
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Indoor lifestyle

Are there warning signs I should be aware of?

Some common signs of diabetes in dogs and cats include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination—your pet produces more urine per day or has “accidents” in the house (dogs) or outside the litterbox (cats)
  • Excessive hunger while losing weight
  • Lethargy (less active/sleeps more)
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs)
  • Doesn’t groom (cats)
  • Thinning, dry, and dull hair

How will my veterinarian test my pet for diabetes?

Your veterinarian may begin by performing a general health examination and asking questions about any signs your pet may be displaying. Then, a sample of your pet’s urine will be tested for the presence of glucose (a type of sugar) or ketones (acids produced by the body as it breaks down fat instead of glucose for energy). If glucose is present in your pet’s urine, your veterinarian will then test your pet’s blood to determine the blood glucose level. A diabetes diagnosis is considered definite when persistently high glucose levels are found in both the blood and urine.

How do I take care of a pet with diabetes?

Although there is no cure for diabetes, the disease can be successfully managed with the help of your veterinarian. Daily insulin injections are usually required to restore a pet’s insulin level and control blood glucose levels. Many owners are anxious about giving injections, but it’s easier than you think, and you can quickly learn how to handle the dosing routine with little stress for you or your pet. Diet plays a vital role in helping to keep your pet’s diabetes regulated.

Your veterinarian can recommend a diet that’s best suited to the needs of your pet. A high-quality, consistent source of protein is an essential part of any diabetic diet. High-protein, low-carbohydrate foods are currently recommended for diabetic cats because they provide the extra energy cats need to get through their active days, without the extra carbs that can turn into excess sugar. It is important to feed your pet based on its ideal body weight.

Consistent timing and size of meals is also very important. Exercise can help dogs with diabetes, but it needs to be regulated because activity affects blood glucose levels. It’s best to create a consistent exercise routine for your diabetic dog and stick to it. (There is no clear recommendation for exercise in diabetic cats because their activity is difficult to regulate.) Regular veterinary checkups can help identify changes in your pet’s condition and help you to manage this disease successfully over time.

Managing your dog or cat’s diabetes will require some effort, but the rewards are well worth it. Pets whose diabetes is under control have normal thirst, appetite, urination, and activity levels. Their weight is generally stable and they are less likely to develop complications.

Where can I learn more about diabetes in dogs and cats?

The following websites provide useful information:

 

Originally posted on Healthy Pet.