Moment of Paws: 3 ways to prevent diabetes in your pet

There are a number of diseases that affect both humans and our pets, and one that has become more common in recent years is diabetes.

According to a recent study with data from 43 states and 3 million cats and dogs, researchers saw an 80 percent increase in diabetes in dogs and an 18 percent increase in cats between 2006 and 2015.

Despite these numbers, the risk of diabetes in our pets depends on a number of factors, including age, diet, lack of exercise and obesity. Diabetes in dogs and cats can occur at any age; the majority of dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 7-10, and for cats over the age of six.

Signs of diabetes in pets include excessive thirst, increased urination, significant weight loss, decreased appetite and a lack of energy. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. To accurately diagnose diabetes in your pet, a vet will perform a blood test, looking for excess sugar.

As with any disease, early diagnosis and treatment is critical, but preventive measures should also be taken. Keep these tips in mind to reduce the risk of your pet developing diabetes.

Get them moving! Obesity is a major contributor to the development of diabetes, so make sure your pet gets regular exercise to maintain weight. A healthy weight also helps combat other conditions associated with weight gain, especially as your pet ages.
Give them a good diet. A balanced, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet will not only help your pet maintain a healthy weight, but also help achieve stable blood sugar levels.

Schedule regular veterinary visits. Routine checkups are a great help in maintaining our pet’s well-being and diagnosing health issues early, including diabetes.

Remember that even if your beloved pet is diagnosed with diabetes, it can be treated and controlled. Treatment varies from animal to animal, but it usually includes a strict diet, increased exercise, and monitoring your pet’s appetite, weight, drinking, and urination. Depending on the severity of the disease, your pet may also require daily insulin injections.

We all want our pets to be healthy and happy throughout their lives, so it’s important to take steps now to help your pet avoid health problems in the future!

Dr. Edward Schettino is the president and CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. He has a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

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