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Feline Diabetes: Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention, And Diet Tips

Feline Diabetes: Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention, And Diet Tips

An alarming number of cats are developing diabetes mellitus, which is the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar, or glucose, levels . Left untreated, it can lead to weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting , dehydration, severe depression, problems with motor function, coma, and even death. To find out why so many cats are being diagnosed with diabetes, and what owners can do, WebMD talked to Thomas Graves, a former feline practitioner who is associate professor and section head of small animal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Graves’ research focus is on diabetes and geriatric medicine. Q: How common is feline diabetes? A: The true incidence isn’t known, but it’s estimated at 0.5% to 2% of the feline population. But it’s also probably under diagnosed. Q: What are the signs of diabetes in cats? A: The main symptoms are increased thirst and increased urination. And while we do see it in cats with appropriate body weight, it’s more common in obese cats. Some cats with diabetes have a ravenous appetite because their bodies cannot use the fuel supplied in their diet. Q: What’s the treatment for a cat with feline diabetes? A: Diet is certainly a component. It’s felt that a low-carbohydrate diet is probably best for cats with diabetes. Treatment is insulin therapy. There are some oral medications, but they have more side effects and are mainly used when insulin can’t be used for some reason. There are blood and urine tests, physical examinations, and behavioral signals, which are used to establish insulin therapy. This is done in conjunction with your veterinarian. We don’t recommend owners adjust insulin therapy on their own because it can be sort of complicated in cats. Most patients come in every t Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus In Cat

Diabetes Mellitus In Cat

Diabetes mellitus, commonly called “sugar diabetes” or just “diabetes,” is a disease caused by failure of the pancreas to produce adequate amounts of insulin. What does insulin do in my cat’s body? Insulin has been called the cells’ gatekeeper. It attaches to the surface of cells and permits glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells from the blood. When insulin is absent or present in insufficient amounts, glucose builds up in the blood resulting in high blood glucose levels. Glucose is one of the body’s primary energy sources. When insufficient amounts of glucose are available to the cells, the body looks for alternate sources of energy (primarily fat and protein). Eventually, these energy demands lead to weight loss. This weight loss causes the cat to eat more in an attempt to make up for the “energy drain.” Also, the body attempts to remove excess blood glucose by spilling it into the urine. Since glucose attracts water, tremendous amounts of water follow this glucose into the urine. This loss of water causes dehydration and the cat must drink more to counteract it. Therefore, high blood glucose levels result in the four typical signs of diabetes: 1) weight loss, 2) a ravenous appetite, 3) increased urination, and 4) increased thirst. Not all of these signs are readily seen in every diabetic cat, but we expect that you will have seen at least two of them. How is diabetes diagnosed? The four clinical signs of diabetes are also present in other feline diseases. Therefore, clinical signs alone are not sufficient to make a diagnosis. The two most important laboratory tests are the blood glucose level and a urinalysis. The normal blood glucose level is 80-120 mg/dL (4.4-6.6 mmol/L). Diabetic cats often have levels over 400 (22), or even 600 mg/dL (33 mmol Continue reading >>

Feline Diabetes

Feline Diabetes

Definition: Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disease in which the blood sugar level rises because of failure of insulin to control it. This occurs either because the pancreas has lost its ability to manufacture insulin (known as Type I diabetes) or that mechanisms of insulin release and tissue responsiveness are dysfunctional (Type II diabetes). Without proper insulin regulation, the body is unable to transport glucose (a simple sugar obtained from digested food) into cells. Because glucose remains trapped in the bloodstream, the tissues of the body are deprived of the energy needed to function normally. Risk factors: In many cases, the cause for why a cat has developed diabetes cannot be determined. However, it is known that obesity predisposes cats for Type II diabetes. Other causes or factors include: damage to the pancreas caused by inflammation, infection, immune mediated disease, tumors, genetic predisposition, and exposure to certain drugs. Cats receiving steroids are also predisposed to diabetes. Symptoms: The most common symptoms of diabetes are weight loss (often with a healthy appetite), excessive water consumption and excessive urine output. Because so much urine is being produced, some diabetic cats will urinate in unusual places (i.e., outside of the litter box). Owners may notice that litter has suddenly begun to stick to their cat’s paws because of the excess volume of urine being produced. Some cats will also show weakness, lethargy, vomiting, abnormal gait, poor grooming habits and changes in behavior. Diagnosis: Physical examination may show poor body condition, dehydration, jaundice, and an enlarged liver. Laboratory testing is essential to diagnose diabetes. Blood tests show hyperglycemia (high blood sugar, usually above 300 mg/dl), and often the Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus In Cats - Overview

Diabetes Mellitus In Cats - Overview

By Ernest Ward, DVM & Robin Downing, DVM, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP Emergency Situations, Medical Conditions What is diabetes mellitus? Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas, a small organ located near the stomach. The pancreas has two different types of cells that have very different functions. One group of cells produces the enzymes necessary for proper digestion. The other group, called beta cells, produces the hormone insulin, which regulates the level of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream and controls the delivery of glucose to the tissues of the body. In simple terms, diabetes mellitus is caused by the failure of the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. The clinical signs of diabetes mellitus are related to elevated concentrations of blood glucose and the inability of the body to use glucose as an energy source. What are the clinical signs of diabetes mellitus in cats? The four main symptoms of diabetes mellitus are increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, and increased appetite. Because of the nature of cats, these signs may go unnoticed, especially in the early stages of disease or if a cat spends a lot of time outdoors. Cats that are fed canned or semi-moist diets receive much of their water intake from their food, and increased water intake will be harder to recognize. Are there different types of diabetes mellitus in cats? Diabetes mellitus is usually classified into 2 types of disease: Type I diabetes mellitus results from total or near-complete destruction of the beta cells. This appears to be a rare type of diabetes in the cat. Type II diabetes mellitus is different because some insulin-producing cells remain, but the amount of insulin produced is insufficient, there is a delayed response in secreting it, or the tissues of the cat's body are re Continue reading >>

What’s The Normal Blood Glucose Range For Pets?

What’s The Normal Blood Glucose Range For Pets?

This week one of our readers asked me what the normal blood glucose range is for dogs and cats. One of her vets told her it was up to 170 mg/dl for cats. I agree! It can be that high if taken in a clinic environment where a cat may feels stress. Evaluations in a pet’s blood glucose do reflect the environment and stress level of the pet. Imagine that you were a cat. You were purr-fectly happy sunning yourself on the back of the couch in the family room by the big window. Ah, that’s the life. Suddenly, and without warning, your human nabs you and shoves you (despite your best Houdini-like efforts) into a box and puts you in the car. Oh how you hate going in cars! The car ride ends and you pray your human has come to her senses but no… You have arrived at the vet clinic and there are yapping dogs in the lobby. Even a non-diabetic cat could have a blood glucose level of 170 or more after such a harrowing experience. I’m not kidding. I live one mile from my own veterinary hospital and when I take my cats to work for a dental check or something else that I can’t do at home they scream in their carriers as if someone was beating them with a stick. This phenomenon is called “stress hyperglycemia”. It’s not unique to cats. I once saw a Chihuahua present to the ER with a blood glucose level in the 300s from stress hyperglycemia. This is all part of the fight or flight response. How does stress hyperglycemia occur? Remember learning about the fight or flight response back in high school? It’s that same thing. In a stressful situation you release adrenaline (a.k.a. epinephrine), which can cause the liver to produce more glucose to help you get away from the adversity. Cats are specialists in stress hyperglycemia. In my hospital I use in house blood machines and al Continue reading >>

Why Is My Dog's Blood Glucose Level Abnormal ?

Why Is My Dog's Blood Glucose Level Abnormal ?

Why Is My Cat's Blood Glucose Level Abnormal ? To see what normal blood and urine values are for your pet, go here For an explanation of causes of most abnormal blood and urine tests go here To see how tests are often grouped, go here Ron Hines DVM PhD Lots of my articles are plagiarized and altered on the web to market products and services. There are never ads running or anything for sale with my real articles. Try to stay with the ones with in the URL box or find all my articles at ACC.htm. Your Pet's Blood Sugar Level Glucose , GLU Your pet’s blood sugar level (glucose level) needs to remain in a narrow corridor or bad things begin to happen. Glucose (dextrose is a form of glucose) is the primary fuel that runs your pet's body (Fatty acids can also provide some fuel energy). Without sufficient blood glucose (=hypoglycemia), cells cannot live very long. With too much blood glucose (the common cause being diabetes mellitus) the body begins to rely on fats rather than glucose to meet its energy needs (=ketoacidosis). If blood glucose remains high in your pet; with time, urinary tract infections, decreased disease resistance, kidney failure, nerve-related weakness (neuropathies) and eye damage can occur. Why Your Pet’s Blood Glucose Level Could Be Too High (hyperglycemia) : Stress and excitement – especially in cats and toy dog breeds is the most common cause of a single high reading. When your pet's lab glucose values are repeatedly high in a non-stressed situation, diabetes mellitus and Cushing’s disease are the most common causes. Corticosteroid tablets or injections, acute pancreatitis, IV fluids containing dextrose or a blood samples collected too soon after eating (post-prandial blood sample) can all cause the glucose level to be high. Glucose levels can b Continue reading >>

Diabetes In Cats For Beginners

Diabetes In Cats For Beginners

What is Feline Diabetes, and How Does it Affect My Pet's Health? Diabetes is a disorder affecting the processing of glucose (blood sugar) in the body. The digestive system breaks food down into various components, including glucose, that enter the bloodstream. Glucose is absorbed by cells to use for energy. Insulin is the hormone that signals the cells to take up the glucose -- without it, the glucose stays in the blood. A VERY simplified diagram is presented below to help explain this process. In a normal digestive system, the arrival of food stimulates the organ called the pancreas to secrete insulin into the bloodstream to regulate glucose levels. More food, more insulin. More insulin, less glucose in the blood (and more in cells to use for energy). At its simplest, diabetes is a disorder of this process. If there isn't enough insulin or if insulin can't act properly on cells, the glucose level in the blood stays too high and the glucose is not available for the cells to use as energy. Diabetes is generally divided into two different types, Type I and Type II. Type I (which is also sometimes called juvenile diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes) occurs when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin. Looking back at the simplified diagrams, taking away the insulin removes the "key" that binds to the cell receptor ("the lock") and lets the insulin "through the door" into the cell. When this happens, glucose levels stay high in the bloodstream and the cell lacks enough glucose for its energy needs.Type II diabetes (sometimes referred to as adult onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes) occurs when there is a problem with the receptor or "lock." The "key" (insulin) won't fit into the lock and so glucose once again cannot get into the cell and high blood sugar Continue reading >>

Why Your Diabetic Cat Should Be Tested For Growth Hormone

Why Your Diabetic Cat Should Be Tested For Growth Hormone

As a veterinarian, I find diabetes to be both a rewarding and a frustrating condition to treat. Sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is common in cats, and the reward comes from making a real difference to the cat’s health. However, not all cases respond as they should. But why is this? Before we jump ahead to talk about complications, let’s remind ourselves what diabetes is. A diabetic cat has poor control of his blood sugar levels, which runs too high. This is because the hormone that regulates sugar levels, insulin, is either lacking or the body tissues can’t respond to it. High blood sugar levels are toxic, and sugar is expelled in urine. However, this means the body also loses water. The patient drinks excessively to replace it. Insulin Resistance Some cases need almost unimaginably high doses of insulin, and yet the cats’ blood glucose still refuses to come down. Think of insulin as the key to unlock the body’s cells and allow sugar in. When insulin doesn’t work (known as insulin resistance), this is equivalent to having the locks changed so the key no longer fits. We now know that health problems can lead to insulin resistance. Conditions such as gum disease, overactive thyroid glands or even cystitis can “change the lock” so insulin can’t open the cells, which results in poor glucose control. Acromegaly However, this article is about a relatively new condition, acromegaly, which is thought to adversely affect 1 in 3 diabetic cats. Acromegaly is caused by too much growth hormone in the bloodstream. Growth hormone tells tissue to grow, but it also causes insulin resistance. The typical acromegalic cat has a big, chunky face and enormous paws. However, blood tests now reveal that many normal-looking cats have acromegaly — 1 in 3 diabetics — so p Continue reading >>

The Signs, Diagnosis & Types Of Diabetes Mellitus In Cats

The Signs, Diagnosis & Types Of Diabetes Mellitus In Cats

There are certain signs or symptoms which are commonly seen in cats with diabetes mellitus. Unfortunately, these signs also occur in other diseases and conditions. Therefore, laboratory tests are necessary to diagnose diabetes mellitus in cats. The following article includes a discussion of how this diagnosis is made and the types of diabetes found in cats. What are the signs of diabetes mellitus in cats and why do they occur? Depending on how severely insulin production is impaired, there may be few signs of disease, or the signs may be severe. Dogs with diabetes often develop cataracts; cats do not. The most common signs of diabetes are: Increased thirst (polydipsia) and urination (polyuria) Change in appetite Weight loss Change in gait (walking) Decreased activity, weakness, depression Vomiting Increased Thirst and Urination: Because the glucose cannot enter the cells, the glucose levels in the blood become abnormally high (hyperglycemia). The glucose is filtered out by the kidneys and is found in the urine (glucosuria). When it is filtered out, it carries water with it. The animal, then, is losing more water through the urine than normal and has to make up for it by drinking more. Inappropriate Elimination: The increased urination may result in the cat not always urinating in the litter box. This inappropriate urination may be one of the first signs of diabetes in cats. In addition, cats with diabetes can often develop urinary tract infections, which may also result in inappropriate elimination. Change in Appetite: Some diabetic cats eat less, because frankly, they do not feel well. Other cats may have voracious appetites and eat a lot (polyphagia) because their hypothalamus keeps telling them they are hungry. Weight Loss: Because the cat cannot use the calories he Continue reading >>

Elevated Glucose In Cats

Elevated Glucose In Cats

Higher than normal blood glucose levels are not uncommon in cats, especially older cats. It's important that you learn the signs, symptom and treatments for high blood glucose levels because the sooner you diagnose and begin treatment, the more likely you can prevent related complications. Causes of High Blood Glucose Levels The most common cause of elevated blood glucose levels, also called hyperglycemia, in felines is a malfunction within a cat's endocrine system. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that facilitates the passage of glucose into an animal's cells. The cells metabolize the glucose to provide energy for your cat's everyday functioning. When the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, glucose remains in the bloodstream and causes glucose levels to rise. Other causes of increased blood sugar levels include stress, hormones, pancreatitis, a high-carb diet, drug interactions, and bacterial infection. It's important to determine the cause of your kitty's hyperglycemia because some types are temporary and do not require long-term treatment. Complications Because you cat is not getting glucose into her cells, she will feel lethargic and begin to lose weight because her body starts burning muscle tissue for energy. If left untreated, the hyperglycemia will turn into diabetes. Feline diabetes can lead to kidney damage, vision problems, neuropathy and weakness in your cat's legs. Another complication, ketoacidosis, is a serious condition that arises when ketones, a byproduct of the digestion of a body's own tissues, build up in the bloodstream. Ketoacidosis requires immediate attention by your veterinarian. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet. Diagnosis Watch for any signs that might signal that your Continue reading >>

Your First Vet Visit: Diagnosing Feline Diabetes

Your First Vet Visit: Diagnosing Feline Diabetes

Your first vet visit: diagnosing feline diabetes Your veterinarian can diagnose diabetes with a simple, in-office physical examination of the cat and laboratory tests, which will determine if there is an abnormally high level of sugar in the bloodstream and urine. Your veterinarian may ask if your cat has exhibited any of the following symptoms, indicating a possibility of feline diabetes: Increased thirst Sudden increase in appetite Sudden weight loss (despite an increase in appetite) Increased urination Increased lethargy Understanding your cat's diagnosis The food your cat eats is broken down into glucose during the digestion process. Glucose is the fuel that provides energy needed by the cells of the body to sustain life. As glucose enters the bloodstream, the cat's pancreas secretes insulin. Insulin is a hormone released in small amounts to properly balance the blood sugar (glucose) levels in the blood. Feline diabetes is similar to human diabetes, and occurs when your pet either doesn't produce or is unable to process insulin, a hormone that helps regulate glucose or sugar in the bloodstream. Just like humans, diabetic cats are diagnosed primarily with Type 2 diabetes.The types of diabetes in cats are based on the human classification system. Type 1 Diabetes Type 1 form of diabetes is defined as an absolute insulin deficiency. In this form, the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin to regulate the glucose in the bloodstream, leading to persistent high glucose levels in the blood. This type of diabetes is very rare in the cat. Type 2 Diabetes Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes in cats, occurs when the cells in the cat's body don't respond to the insulin that is being provided. As a result, the cat becomes hyperglycemic (high blood sugar), wh Continue reading >>

Feline Diabetes

Feline Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused either by a lack of insulin, or an inadequate response of the body to this hormone. After your cat has eaten, the digestive system breaks down the food into various parts. One of these is carbohydrates which are further converted into simple sugars such as glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the gut into the blood where it is transported around the body. Insulin, which is produced by “beta cells” in the pancreas, helps in the process of moving glucose into the cells of the body where it is converted into fuel. If there is insufficient insulin available, or the body responds inadequately to insulin, glucose is unable to enter cells and can build up to high concentrations in the bloodstream. The resulting condition is called hyperglycemia. As a result, an animal may behave as if it is constantly hungry (the cells are not producing fuel), but may also appear malnourished, again because the cells are unable absorb glucose. Damage to the beta cells in the pancreas can be either temporary or permanent. The damage may be caused by a virus, infection, trauma, some medications (steroids), or even from over-work after too much sugar or carbohydrate consumption. Diabetes mellitus is often divided into two types, depending on the origin of the condition: Type 1 Diabetes mellitus Type 1, sometimes called “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin-dependent diabetes”, is caused by the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. Because the destruction of the cells is not reversible, the animal must be treated with an exogenous (external) source of insulin. Both cats and dogs can suffer from Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes mellitus Type 2, sometimes called “”adult-onset diabetes” or “non-insulin-dependent diabetes”, is characterized by hi Continue reading >>

Guidelines To Bg Interpretation

Guidelines To Bg Interpretation

Due to the individual responses each pet has to insulin, differences in regulation levels being sought, and management style, it is important to review these guidelines with your vet and write down exactly what he/she wants you to do. Blood Glucose Goals for Diabetics Non-Diabetic Normal BG Cats Between 100 mg/dL and 300 mg/dL approximately 65-135 mg/dL Dogs without cataracts Between 100 mg/dL and 200 mg/dL approximately 70-150 mg/dL Dogs already blind from cataracts Between 100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL approximately 70-150 mg/dL Timing is important: Always interpret your BG level in terms of where it occurs in the insulin and food cycle. You will need to have the results of at least one curve on the present insulin to know how your pet responds throughout the insulin and food cycle, and approximately when peak occurs. Until you know your pet's usual response at a given point in the cycle, you don't know if their BGs are expected to drop farther or if they are probably on the way up. The seriousness and degree of intervention needed can be very different for the same BG reading, based on whether BGs are usually falling or rising at the time of the BG test. Until you have enough experience with testing to be confident that your technique is consistent, your readings may vary due to procedural inconsistencies, rather than real changes in blood glucose levels. It is generally safer for your pet to have a somewhat higher BG than to run the risk of Hypoglycemia, though dogs risk developing cataracts and blindness at high BG levels (cats eyes are not affected this way). A single insulin dose may be reduced substantially or skipped entirely with minor repercussions (higher BG levels at next pre-shot). If ketones are present, especially if Ketoacidosis has developed, some insulin (a Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus (sugar Diabetes)

Diabetes Mellitus (sugar Diabetes)

This page describing diabetes mellitus (DM) is very thorough and will require some study if you want to understand it fully. There is a different kind of diabetes, called diabetes insipidus, which is not the same disease. In general, when most people say a pet or a person has diabetes, or if they also say sugar diabetes, they are refurring to diabetes mellitus. Sugar diabetes, more correctly know as diabetes mellitus (DM), is a complex disease that is difficult to control, particularly in cats. Proper treatment requires a commitment on your part, usually for the life of your pet. It is well worth the effot in most cases because response to treatment is usually quite rewarding. By definition, DM is a persistent hyperglycemia and glycosuria due to an absolute or relative insulin deficiency. By the time you are done with this page you will understand what all of this means. You will also learn that some of the parameters of DM in animals are similar to humans, and many parameters are not, so be careful of extrapolating any experience you have between the two. DM can occur in many different species like birds and Guinea Pigs, although it is most commonly diagnosed in dogs, and especially cats. Obesity is a big reason pets get DM. Fat is not just fat, it causes inflammation, leads to the rise of insulin resistance, which means your pet gets DM and does not respond well to insulin treatment. Most obese cats are prone to be what is called prediabetic. It all has to due with a hormone called amylin elevated in the bloodstream of overweight cats. You can go far in preventing DM by keeping your pet at a normal weight, and feeding your cat a food that is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. Routine exams, that include blood panels and urinalyses that both monitor glucose, Continue reading >>

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia means high blood sugar. It is the primary symptom of diabetes. Unlike its opposite, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia is not immediately life-threatening. This doesn't mean it's not dangerous, though. For "how high is high", see blood glucose levels, and also the long-term symptoms discussion at the end of this page. Increasing physical activity can mean lowering blood sugar levels for some pets and people with this disease. It can also raise them; much depends on individual reaction and knowing how you or your pet responds. For most with diabetes, excitement or stress can cause temporary hyperglycemia. There are others who can find themselves going toward hypoglycemia because of it. Cats in general, with or without diabetes, appear to be prone to hyperglycemia. This 1954 Lilly study[1] was an early one with regard to the insulin/hypoglycemia countering hormone glucagon. Cats were selected because of their sensitivity to high blood sugar and their well-known responses to it. It should be remembered that back in 1954, most of the work which had been done with regard to improving insulins had dealt with various ways to extend their activity. At the time this study was done, highly purified insulin was still a long way off, so it was possible to have insulin which might contain some glucagon via the extraction process. Some unexpected causes of hyperglycemia are discussed in detail under obstacles to regulation An untreated diabetic suffers primarily from lack of insulin to let nourishment into the cells, and therefore is starving to death. But hyperglycemia can kill faster than starvation; it's not unusual for one of the effects below, or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) brought on by the combination, to be the actual fatal blow. Hyperglycemia and glycosuria are the sy Continue reading >>

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