Diabetes affects close to five million people in the UK, but did you know that animals can also be diagnosed with the disease?
Nationwide, we keep an estimated 51 million pets, and a recent study of data from between 2015 and 2017 has shown that cases of diabetes in cats and dogs has risen by more than 355 per cent.
The research (carried out by Animal Friends Pet Insurance) suggests that cats are most at risk of contracting diabetes, with a 309 per cent increase since 2015, compared to a 275 per cent rise for dogs.
What causes diabetes in pets?
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes the sufferer’s blood sugar level to become too high.
Obesity is the leading cause of diabetes in pets (Photo: Shutterstock)
Obesity is the main known contributing factor towards diabetes - obese animals are at a higher risk of developing this chronic disease than animals of a healthy weight.
A PDSA study in 2015 found that 80 per cent of vets questioned by the charity thought there would be more obese pets than healthy ones by 2020. The same report also estimated that a quarter of a million UK dogs are never taken out for walks.
How can I help my pet to stay healthy?
Appropriate portion sizes along with lots of exercise will help to keep pets lean. It is also important to stay strong and avoid giving in to pleas for extra treats outwith meal times.
Which breeds are more likely to develop diabetes?
The breed of dog most commonly diagnosed with diabetes is the West Highland terrier, followed by the labrador, King Charles spaniel, husky and miniature schnauzer.
West Highland terriers are the dogs most commonly diagnosed with diabetes (Photo: Shutterstock)
Common, non-pedigree cats are the felines most often diagnosed with the illness, followed by the domestic shorthair and british shorthair. Siamese, domestic longhair and Maine coon cats are also susceptible to the disease.
What are the warning signs?
Some common signs of animal diabetes to watch out for include:
An increase in drinking and urinatingWeight loss (sometimes hard to notice in already overweight pets)An increase in or loss of appetiteRecurring urinary tract infectionsIncontinenceSudden cataract developmentDehydrationLethargyVomiting
If you notice any or a combination of these symptoms in your own pet, seek advice from your vet as soon as possible.
What should I do after a diagnosis?
If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, make sure to keep track of their food and water levels, including how often they are eating and urinating. Also, make sure your pet is getting enough exercise, without over exerting them.
To keep your pet’s blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible, you may be required to give them regular insulin injections, which your vet will prescribe in a suitable dose.
If your pet is unwell, make sure to check their glucose levels throughout the day and adjust the insulin dosage as needed. If you have questions on the amount of insulin you should be administering, always consult with your vet first.