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Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

The sooner diabetes is detected, the sooner treatment can begin and the better chance your pet has at avoiding the complications that come with this disease. The key to early detection is for pet owners to keep an eye out for the early warning signs of diabetes. If you notice your pet displaying any of the symptoms below, particularly in combination with each other, get a checkup scheduled with your vet.

Common symptoms

Frequent urination – as levels of glucose within the blood become elevated, your pet’s body will attempt to flush out the sugar. For dogs, this may mean having ‘accidents’ within the house, and for cats, it may be urinating outside the litterbox.

Excessive thirst – as your dog or cat needs to urinate more frequently, they will become dehydrated. They may notice them emptying their water dish more frequently, or drinking from places that are unusual such as the toilet bowl.

Excessive hunger– with the lack of fuel (glucose) reaching the body’s cells, the brain sends signals that your pet needs to eat more food.

Unexplained weight loss – even if your pet is eating normal amounts of food, the lack of insulin means that they will not be converting nutrients correctly, which may lead to weight loss.

Dull coat (cats)diabetes may cause your cat to stop grooming, resulting in a dry, dull coat.

Lethargy–previously energetic pets may be more reluctant to engage in any activities or spend more time sleeping.

Recurring infections– this includes skin infections and urinary tract infections in particular.

Cloudy eyes (dogs)–if diabetes is left untreated, one of the complications that can develop in dogs is the formation of cataracts. Cloudy eyes are an early symptom that owners should be looking out for.

Diagnosing diabetes

Though the above symptoms are not unique to diabetes, if your pet displays any of these signs, you should have them checked out by a veterinarian. Testing for diabetes is relatively straightforward, with blood and urine samples used to check for abnormal glucose levels. Regardless of the result, your vet will likely run additional tests to rule out other conditions, the presence of which may affect how the disease is treated and managed. Your vet may also check that diabetes has not caused any long-term problems, such as ketoacidosis (a breakdown of fat and muscle), pancreatitis or cataracts.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

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