Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Is your Pet Drinking more?


As pets age, your veterinarian may start asking if your pet is drinking and urinating a lot more than normal. If your answer is yes they may want to check a urinalysis and blood work. The reason for the diagnostics is to rule in or out Diabetes.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

When your body digests food all the fats, carbohydrates and proteins are broken down into different components that can be utilized by cells in the body.  One of the components is glucose. Glucose is used as fuel and is needed to sustain life.

Insulin is a hormone, produced by the pancreas, that helps regulate glucose in an animal’s bloodstream and helps control the delivery of glucose to tissues.  

If the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body is resistant to insulin the animal’s glucose becomes elevated and then the animal has diabetes mellitus.

What are the clinical signs of diabetes?

Dogs Cats
Increased thirst Increased thirst
Increased urination Increased urination
Weight loss Weight loss
Cataract formation Ravenous appetite
Hocks touch the ground when walking


How is Diabetes Mellitus diagnosed?

Diabetes Mellitus is tested for based on the animal’s clinical signs, laboratory finding and physical examination.

The Veterinarian will perform blood work to look at not only the animal’s glucose levels but will check to make sure no other unrelated conditions have developed.  Sometimes more blood work is needed to definitively confirm the diagnosis since stress can also elevate glucose levels in the blood.

A fructosamine level may need to be performed.  This measures the average blood glucose over the last two weeks.

Urine is also performed to check for glucose, ketones, and bacteria in the urine.  If the animal has elevated glucose in the blood there will be glucose in the urine.  Bacteria can also be in the urine resulting in a urinary tract infection. Your animal may need a urine culture to determine if this is the case.  Your Veterinarian will also look for Ketones in the urine. When your body does not have enough glucose or not enough insulin to help the cells use the glucose the body will start breaking down fat which in turn releases ketones.  Ketones in the bloodstream will make the blood acidic which is a life-threatening situation. This condition is called Diabetic Ketoacidosis.

How do you treat Diabetes Mellitus?

An animal that is not severely ill your Veterinarian will recommend insulin injections and dietary changes for your animal.  The type of insulin depends on the animal and situation and is something that should be discussed with your Veterinarian. If you have a cat that was recently diagnosed your Veterinarian will most likely recommend a low carbohydrate diet.  When the right diet is chosen sometimes cats can go into remission. If you have a dog that was recently diagnosed your Veterinarian will most likely recommend a high fiber, low-fat diet. The reason for this is the fiber slows the entrance of glucose into the bloodstream and helps your dog feel full.  

If your animal has Diabetic ketoacidosis this requires intensive care which usually includes hospitalization and insulin injections to regulate the glucose.  

It is important to have your Veterinarian or a Veterinary technician review how to give and how much insulin to give your animal.  

Understand that regulating your animal can be very difficult and can take a long time.  It is important to follow up with your Veterinarian to monitor your animal’s glucose.

Animals usually require insulin injections twice a day.  These injections are best to be given 12 hours apart at the same time of day.  Your animal has to eat prior to receiving the insulin injection.

Glipizide, which is the oral medication used to lower glucose levels has been found to be not that effective in animals.  


Hypoglycemia which is low blood sugar.  This can occur when your animal is receiving too much insulin by having their insulin requirement suddenly change.  Most animals will become hypoglycemic around 5-8 hours post-injection. The other reason this can occur is due to an error when giving the insulin and the animal receiving too much.  

Clinical signs of hypoglycemia include weakness, lack of coordination, seizure, and coma.  If you notice any of these signs rub some Karo syrup (corn syrup), maple syrup or honey on the animal’s gums and contact your veterinarian immediately

Hyperglycemia is high glucose.  This can be a result of not giving enough insulin.  If you feel your animal is drinking and urinating excessive still they could still be hyperglycemic or your animal’s insulin requirement may have changed.  

If you feel that your pet has symptoms of Diabetes it is important to see your veterinarian sooner rather than later.

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