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This page is dedicated to what we believe might be of interest for you and your pet. In-depth articles packed with useful information & practical tips for your companion animals. 

Diabetes - Not Just a Human Illness

It is easy to tell that your pet is sick if it doesn't want to eat or drink but sometimes signs of illness can be more subtle.

What would you think if your cat started having long drinks from puddles, the fish pond, and the bottom of the shower as well as from its water bowl?

Or if your dog was wolfing down its food, raiding the compost and licking flour spills off the kitchen floor but losing weight? What about if it was less keen to go for walks or play and its coat was looking dull - would you just think it was ‘getting old'?

Diabetes is one of the illnesses that could cause these signs. Yes, pets can get Diabetes too! And the great news is that it can be treated. We have several clients who are successfully managing their pet's diabetes, giving them daily insulin medication. Diabetes in cats can sometimes even go into remission when managed with special foods.

Diabetes happens when the body stops making insulin, a hormone which helps glucose move from the blood into body cells. The pet is usually ravenously hungry as its body cells are crying out for energy. The glucose then builds up in the blood until it spills out through the kidneys into the urine, drawing water with it. The pet pees more and then needs to drink a lot to stop itself from dehydrating.

If Diabetes is undetected it can progress to the next stage where the pet becomes obviously ill, gets dehydrated and won't eat. These pets need urgent and intensive hospital care. Once they are stabilised, they are able to be treated at home.

November is Pet Diabetes Awareness month, where Vets around New Zealand are trying to raise owner awareness of the early signs to watch out for. The simplest test is to check for glucose in the pet's urine. If this is found, further tests are required.

There are other illnesses that can also cause increased thirst, weight loss, coat changes and a lack of energy. If your pet has any of these signs, we recommend that you get them checked by your Veterinarian.

Toni Monro, BVSc, Bay of Islands Veterinary Services

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