Diabetes Complications in Dogs and Cats: Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA)
Unfortunately, we veterinarians are seeing an increased prevalence of diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats. This is likely due to the growing prevalence of obesity (secondary to inactive lifestyle, a high carbohydrate diet, lack of exercise, etc.). So, if you just had a dog or cat diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, what do you do? First, we encourage you to take a look at these articles for an explanation of the disease:
Diabetes Mellitus (Sugar Diabetes) in Dogs
Once you have a basic understanding of diabetes mellitus (or if you already had one), this article will teach you about life-threatening complications that can occur as a result of the disease; specifically, I discuss a life-threatening condition called diabetes ketoacidosis (DKA) so that you know how to help prevent it!
What is DKA?
When diabetes goes undiagnosed, or when it is difficult to control or regulate, the complication of DKA can occur. DKA develops because the body is so lacking in insulin that the sugar can’t get into the cells -- resulting in cell starvation. Cell starvation causes the body to start breaking down fat in an attempt to provide energy (or a fuel source) to the body. Unfortunately, these fat breakdown products, called “ketones,” are also poisonous to the body.
Symptoms of DKA
Clinical signs of DKA include the following:
Not moving (in cats, hanging out by the water bowl)
Not eating to complete anorexia
Large urinary clumps in the litter box (my guideline? If it’s bigger than a tennis ball, it’s abnormal)
Weight loss (most commonly over the back), despite an overweight body Continue reading