Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Question: Diabetes in Pets Part 2

Dr. Schaeberle,

My cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I didn’t know it was possible! What do we do next?



Dear Darlene,

Last week I discussed in general terms diabetes in dogs and cats. Today I will focus on diabetes mellitus in cats.

Our general goal of treatment is to decrease of the blood sugar level which will result in less drinking less urination, weight loss and allow for a long quality of life. As with people, we treat diabetes with diet control as well as insulin for most cats.

1. Diet. Addressing pet obesity may eliminate the need for insulin. Recent studies have documented the advantage of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Available from your veterinarian, prescription diets can help reach a goal of 1 to 2% weight-loss per week. In addition, canned foods are preferable (they typically have more protein) and scheduling 2 to 3 meals per day (not allowing free choice through the day), can aid in your pet’s weight loss.

2. Insulin therapy. Most veterinarians will select between two available insulins, a new insulin made exclusively for cats (ProZinc) and a human insulin, Lantus. We usually start with a low dose of 1 to 2 units two times daily. Using blood sugar testing as well as a more sophisticated test called a fructosamine, we slowly adjust the insulin to an optimum level over many weeks.

As mentioned last week, treating diabetes in dogs and cats is both an art and science. I have found that it can be challenging to regulate insulin levels if an owner is not compliant to the pets needs. However, with a good teamwork between your veterinarian and the pet owner, most cats will be well controlled with an excellent quality of life and usual life expectancy.

Thomas Schaeberle, VMD

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