HEALTH & FITNESS - Furry set susceptible to diabetes, too


Reporter Sheila Hagar is learning about diabetes and thinks you should, too. This is No. 7 in an ongoing series about the disease, but that should not be construed as "Sheila has all the answers." Always check with a diabetes professional for information pertaining to yourself.

As part of my continuing research into diabetes, I've been given some great resources.

One is an online newsletter, Aimed at medical professionals (which I am not, you may recall), the site contains more information than you'd ever want to know about the disease.

It offers a weekly roundup of articles dealing with new research, medications, devices and studies. As well as plenty of ads, of course.

While scrolling through the latest issue sent to me by a Walla Walla General Hospital diabetes educator, something caught my eye. It was coming right on the heels of me taking a long look at Cap'n Jack, The Wonder Dachshund, and contemplating the possibility...

Yes. It turns out our wittle, sweetums, bestest-puppy-in-the-universe -- and the cat who won't look at you unless you're holding out tuna -- can get diabetes.

When you see Fido lapping up water like crazy, dropping weight, vomiting or acting tired, it's time to think about this.

The pet disease rates are rising even faster than in the two-legged animals, noted the article, which references a national analysis of pet health. "Millions of pets are getting insulin twice a day," noted Jeffrey Klausner, a Portland, Ore.-based veterinarian.

It's stemming from familiar roots -- obesity and lack of exercise, he said.

In the past four years, the rate of diabetes for dogs has jumped by nearly a third, while kitties have climbed 16 percent. By comparison, the disease in humans has risen 10 percent in the same time frame, the article states.

Let's stop here for a moment to let that sink in ... 10 percent, and we can read our own food labels. We choose our own entrees, as well -- no excuses.

Greg Proctor of South Valley Animal Hospital in Milton-Freewater sees the problem in his practice. And while there is ever-evolving information about the disease in humans, not a great deal is understood about how diabetes works in cats and dogs, the veterinarian said.

It's not a case of comparing apples to apples, Proctor explained. "These types (of diabetes) do not cross over."

But, like humans, dogs can be born with a predisposition to their version of diabetes. In that case, it shows up in middle age, just like for the rest of us. Some breeds are more prone than others, he said.

Some diabetic pets will require insulin injections, up to three times a day, and the right food. "Dietwise, we tend to put them on high-fiber diets. We're trying to spread out the absorption of glucose. We do look at carbs."

Big picture is that dogs are the lucky" ones here, Proctor pointed out. "It's a whole different animal in cats than in dogs."

Please applaud here -- I did not laugh out loud at this unintended pun. I was professional.

With kitties, carbohydrates are a much bigger deal and the food equation a little more tricky. High fiber doesn't work (can you imagine the litter box?), for example, but high protein does, the vet said.

The best indicator of successful treatment for pets?

"One of the things that is fascinating to me is when a pet's owner is diabetic. I know the pet will get good care."


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