Obesity and Diabetes in Pets

image of a fat dog.

Gaining just a few extra pounds can cause big health problems for your pet. Although chubby pets may look cute, extra weight increases the risk that your pet will develop several preventable diseases and health conditions, including diabetes, arthritis and liver disease.

How Does Extra Weight Affect My Pet?

Obesity affects pets in many of the same ways it affects people. Weight gain increases pressure on the joints, which can lead to osteoarthritis and tears in the anterior cruciate ligament. If your dog already has hip dysplasia, piling on the pounds can worsen the problem. Overweight pets may quickly become tired when exercising and may become overheated more easily.

Extra weight can increase your pets' chances of developing heart failure, high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease, spinal disc problems and other conditions.

Rising pet obesity rates mean that a significant percentage of pets now face these serious health issues. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates 54 percent of dogs and 59 percent of cats are obese or overweight.

How Common is Diabetes in Pets?

Diabetes is the third most common obesity-related condition in cats and the sixth most common in dogs, according to a 2015 Nationwide Insurance review of pet insurance claims. Although the disease can affect pets of any age, it's more common in older animals.

How Does Diabetes Affect Pets?

Every time your pet eats, carbohydrates and sugars in foods are converted into glucose. Glucose, a natural blood sugar, circulates through the bloodstream to provide energy to every part of your pet's body. The hormone insulin regulates how much glucose enters the bloodstream. If the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or your pet's body can't use it properly, his or her blood sugar level will begin to increase, causing diabetes symptoms.

If your dog or cat has diabetes, one or more of these signs or symptoms may occur:

  • Increased consumption of water
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite changes (more or less interest in food)
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Fruity breath odor
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of energy
  • Vision problems
  • Kidney failure

How is Diabetes Treated in Pets?

In some cases, your pet can overcome diabetes with weight loss and a diet change. If weight loss doesn't help, or if the diabetes isn't caused by obesity, your pet may need to take oral medications or receive insulin injections every day.

Your pet's veterinarian may also recommend switching to a food formulated specifically for diabetic dogs or cats. You'll need to carefully monitor your pet's food and water intake and return to the veterinarian's office periodically for follow up visits and blood and urine tests.

How Can I Help My Pet Avoid Diabetes?

Diabetes can be prevented in many cases if you follow these tips:

  • Don't Make Overeating Easy. Your pet's veterinarian will let you how much food your dog or cat should eat every day to lose weight. If you're used to dumping a handful of food in your pet's dish and leaving it out all day, the recommended amounts may seem small at first. Unfortunately, if you give into those pleading looks from your pet, weight loss will be much more difficult.
  • Count Calories. It's important to count every morsel of food that your pet eats during the day, including treats and table scraps. Even if your pet only eats the new food, weight gain may occur if multiple family members can't resist giving your furry friend treats. Post a food list on the refrigerator and ask every family member to note what they fed your pet to avoid overfeeding.
  • Increase Exercise. Exercise offers a simple and fun way for your pet to lose weight. Depending on your pet's age and size, you may want to schedule long walks or runs or play more games of fetch. Anything you can do to encourage your pet to move more will have a beneficial effect on his or her health.
  • Visit the Vet Regularly. Your pet's veterinarian may be able to spot the signs and symptoms of diabetes before you do. Annual veterinary visits are crucial and help ensure that diabetes and other illnesses and conditions are promptly diagnosed and treated.

Are you worried that your pet may be overweight or at higher risk for diabetes? Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention: Statistics

http://petobesityprevention.org/

Nationwide: Nationwide Data Reveals Pet Obesity on the Rise for Sixth Straight Year

https://press8.petinsurance.com/articles/2016/december/nationwide-data-reveals-pet-obesity-on-the-rise-for-sixth-straight-year

PetMD: Long-Term Effects of Obesity on Pets

http://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_multi_long_term_effects_of_obesity_on_pets

AVMA: Diabetes in Pets

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Diabetes-in-Pets.aspx

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Diabetes

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-diabetes

Call to schedule your pet's wellness or urgent care exam now: (952) 758-6722

Testimonials

  • We have been clients of New Prague Animal Care for over 13 years. They have provided exceptional and compassionate care for our “pack” (6 dogs and 3 cats). As a professional dog trainer, breeder of Best in Show and Master Hunter Retrievers as well an owner of multiple kennel/ doggy daycare facilities (30+ years), I have worked with numerous veterinary clinics both in the Twin Cities and nationwide. Dr. Steve and his crew rate among the finest I have worked with. The clinic has all of the fea

    ...
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  • My dad has taken all of his dogs there for years, and I take mine there as well. Dr. Lavalle's bedside manner is amazing, and his staff are so genuine and caring. I always have, and will continue referring people to take their pets here. They are hands down the best veterinary care in the area!

    - Amber C
  • Have taken our dogs to Dr. Lavallee for over 10 years and he is great with each of them. He and his staff are very caring and helpful.

    - Barb S
  • Middle of a snow storm a few days ago. My little puppy was injured. I live in Faribult. Vet offices were closed in town. They actually called me while in route to see if I was ok. They were so good with the puppy. The cost was very reasonable. Called today to see how everything was going. I really was very impressed with this office. I recommend this place.

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    Show More - Wendy E
  • Awesome experience! My pets love the care they get from Dr. Lavallee and his staff! They are not just a number; they care for them like my babies are family! Would highly recommend them!

    - SGGM
  • Found a 6-wk old kitten on the side of the highway and brought it in at 7pm on emergency basis. I was blown away by the compassion of Dr. Johnson's team. What a great experience. True animal people!

    - Anna H
  • Moved to New Prague and found this place for our dog.. Such great service, friendly staff, amazing Dr. and very accommodating to all of our needs!! Highly recommended by my pet family!!!

    - Kerri N
  • We love New Prague Animal Care, they are always so kind and caring, from the phone calls to when you walk in. We take our Siberian Husky Bandit in and he gets so much attention, well loved. We've had to take him in twice for emergencies, the in house testing was great, Dr. Johnson was able to resolve the issue almost immediately. I wouldn't take him anywhere else.

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    Show More - Myra C

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