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Obesity and Diabetes in Pets

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

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_diabetes.cfm

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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