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Home > General > Pet Diabetes Month 2024: What It Is & Its Purpose

Pet Diabetes Month 2024: What It Is & Its Purpose

fat cat and dog

November is Pet Diabetes Month, and it’s dedicated to raising awareness around a manageable yet incurable condition that can affect pets. Prevention is possible, as is creating a care plan that maximizes a diabetic pet’s quality of life. In many ways, pet diabetes is in our control, highlighting the significant value of awareness efforts. Let’s explore how Pet Diabetes Month makes a difference for animal companions nationwide.


What Is Pet Diabetes Month?

Pet Diabetes Month occurs every November, the same month as National Diabetes Month. Diabetes mellitus affects roughly one in every 300 dogs.1 It also affects one in every 200 cats.2

The lifelong condition occurs when the pancreas can no longer use or produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Without insulin, your pet’s body cannot use the sugar in the blood to power the cells. Elevated levels result in hyperglycemia.

Meanwhile, the body still needs energy. The liver uses fat and protein to provide energy, picking away at the body in an inefficient and debilitating attempt to keep it operating. Diabetes can be fatal when allowed to progress without treatment.

There is no cure for diabetes. But it is often preventable and controllable with medications and lifestyle changes. Pet Diabetes Month is a crucial time for vets, animal welfare organizations, and devoted pet owners to spread knowledge about the importance of protecting ourselves and our pets to ensure the longest, highest-quality life possible.

Sad tired beagle dog on sofa. Sick dog.
Image Credit: ALEX_UGALEK, Shutterstock

Ideas for Observing Pet Diabetes Months

It doesn’t take much effort nowadays to spread awareness to a broad group of owners to get them thinking about their pet’s health. Use #PetDiabetesMonth on social media to spark thoughtful conversations. Share your story, experiences, and knowledge to inspire others.

More importantly, take time to consider your pet’s well-being. November is a perfect time to schedule vet appointments, research pet diabetes, and assess your pet’s routine to see how you can improve their health.

What Are the Signs of Diabetes in Pets?

Regular checkups with your vet are the best way to identify the early signs of diabetes in your pet and plan an effective treatment strategy. As glucose accumulates in the blood and your pet’s body breaks down fat stores for fuel, your pet will show various symptoms, including:

  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination, often in inappropriate areas
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Increased respiration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Chronic infections

Diabetes in dogs often appears at age 4, with most diagnoses occurring around 7–10 years old.

Certain breeds are more susceptible to diabetes, including:

Cats typically don’t show signs of diabetes until they’re over 6 years old. Tonkinese, Norwegian Forest, Burmese, and Abyssinian cats are some of the most at-risk breeds.

Diabetic dogs commonly develop cataracts leading to eventual blindness. New medicinal developments, particularly the topical aid Kinostat, have shown the ability to slow or even halt their effects when caught early, emphasizing the value of frequent checkups and immediate intervention. With surgery and ongoing treatment, cataract-induced blindness can be reversible.

sick cat coughing at house porch
Image Credit: udeenmajid, Shutterstock

How Do Vets Diagnose Pet Diabetes?

Early action at the first sign of a potential issue can make an enormous difference in the treatment intensity and your dog’s comfort. Untreated conditions can develop into severe bodily deterioration and diabetic ketoacidosis. Elevated ketone levels disrupt the body’s pH and electrolyte balance, affecting major organs and quickly turning fatal.

Your vet screens for pet diabetes primarily through urine analysis. Elevated glucose levels in the urine indicate that the blood isn’t transferring sugar to the body’s cells, instead depositing it in the kidneys. Several conditions can cause hyperglycemia, including hormonal changes and pancreatitis, and additional blood work may be necessary.

Most dogs develop Type I diabetes, where the body cannot produce enough insulin. Type I requires lifelong management and daily insulin injections. Cats are more likely to develop Type II diabetes. The pancreas continues producing insulin, but the body has become inefficient at processing it. Unlike Type I, this form of diabetes can go into remission with early action and several months of insulin injections and dietary management.

How to Prevent Pet Diabetes

Age and breed can predispose many pets to diabetes, but lifestyle is arguably the most impactful factor. Obesity, a critical factor leading to insulin resistance, affects roughly one in five pets, often leading to Type II diabetes. Weight and diet management won’t eliminate the risk. But feeding your pet a high-quality diet based on your vet’s recommendations and providing adequate exercise will have a significant impact.

Pets reflect their owners in many ways, including their health. Studies have shown that diabetic dog owners are more likely to develop Type II diabetes than owners with non-diabetic dogs. Shared lifestyles create shared problems. While considering your dog’s health and susceptibility to diabetes, think about your exercise routine, eating habits, and lifestyle. National Diabetes Month is for people and pets, and it’s a time to make changes that will benefit the entire household.


Final Thoughts

From cancer to osteoarthritis, our pets are subject to numerous threats as they age and slow down. While we can’t predict or influence many potential health issues, diabetes is often in our control.

National Pet Diabetes Month is a time for awareness and action. It encourages pet owners to take simple yet meaningful steps to benefit their pets for their entire lives. By better understanding the disease and working with vets during your normal checkups, you can profoundly affect the length and quality of your time with your pets.

Featured Image Credit: Kovalevskaya Polina, Shutterstock

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