Diabetes and your pet - Better managing the ups and downs
What is Diabetes mellitus?
The pancreas is a small essential gland that is situated near the duodenum and stomach.
It has mainly 2 functions:
An exocrine function in which it produces enzymes that is used for the digestion of complex sugars, proteins and lipids.
An endocrine function in which it mainly produces hormones (such as insulin and glucagon) for glucose regulation.
Insulin regulates the flow of glucose from the bloodstream into the body cells In the case of insulin deficiency, the body will start to break down fat and protein stores to use as an alternative energy source, because glucose is no longer transported into the cells. Thus, the animal will eat more whilst still losing weight. The high levels of sugar that accumulates in the bloodstream will be eliminated in the urine. This leads to excessive urination and thirst.
4 Classical signs seen most often with diabetes mellitus:
Increased water consumption
Diabetes mellitus is a serious condition, and may lead to the following concurrent diseases if left untreated:
Urinary tract infections
Canine diabetes mellitus
Canine diabetes mellitus usually occur in older dogs, with its peak prevalence between 7-9 years. Female dogs are affected twice as much as male dogs. This diabetes is caused by an absolute insulin deficiency, thus meaning there is an insufficient amount of insulin produced by the pancreas. It is thus considered to be an Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM), similar to Type 1 Diabetes in humans. Destruction of the pancreatic cells is always the cause in dogs and thus exogenous insulin is necessary and must be administered once or twice daily and has to be managed by the owner on a daily basis.
Feline diabetes melliitus
Feline diabetes mellitus often occurs in older (9-11 years), obese cats. Male cats are more commonly affected than females. The majority of cats are considered to have Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM), which means their bodies are resistant to insulin (their cells are thus not responding to the insulin produced). This is similar to Type 2 Diabetes in humans. One very important cause of diabetes in cats is obesity, as the insulin resistance is promoted by the fat tissue. This condition could be reversed by lowering the high levels of blood sugar that causes the toxic destruction of the cells, by correct medical and nutritional management of the cat.
Nutritional objectives in diabetes mellitus
Limit blood glucose fluctuations
Ensure that food is palatable enough.
Regular, consistent schedule of meals and insulin treatment.
Optimal weight management is critical, especially in cats!
Common owner errors
Inappropriate insulin injection technique.
Inactivated insulin (that was incorrectly handled and stored).
Wrong type of insulin.
Incorrect type of syringe used for injection.
Insulin overdosing or underdosing.