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Bentley's Corner: Pets with diabetes

How you can spot symptoms in a diabetic pet and the treatment options available for them.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — As in humans, dogs can suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes and if diagnosed, it can significantly alter their way of life. We paid a visit to Dr. Denette Cooke to talk about this substantial issue within the pet community.

First off, it's good to know what exactly diabetes in dogs is.

"Diabetes mellitus is the disease we are talking about and that’s called 'starving in the midst of plenty,'" Dr. Cooke explained. "That’s kind of a common term and what that means is there is plenty of sugar around in the bloodstream and floating around in the body; it is just not getting into the cells and the reason why is because there is no insulin to drive it into the cells."

Several of the same factors that lead to the disease in humans also can also cause it in animals, most of which are preventable. But Dr. Cooke says there are some genetic predispositions.

“Obesity, long-term use of steroids is another cause, Cushings Disease which is internal production of steroids, lack of exercise and high carbohydrate-rich dry dog food is touted as being part of this,” she said.

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There are signs to look for in your dog or cat to spot possible diabetes.

“Signs of diabetes in dogs would be a ravenous appetite while losing weight. They may urinate more and they may drink quite a bit more.”

What happens if your dog or cat is diagnosed with diabetes? What does the treatment plan look like?

"When dogs are diagnosed they generally have diabetes for life. In cats, they can actually get back out of diabetes with diet, but dogs usually do not," Dr. Cooke said. "We are basically doing insulin injections twice a day for life."

There are ways you can be active in preventing this disease in your furry friend.

“In general, the best way to avoid it, prevent it, is to keep them thin. Keep them active. And keep them healthy," she said. "Think of them as power athletes.”