Courage, a 10-year-old Dachshund with a graying muzzle, is usually fast on her feet—active and frisky despite her age. But soon after Thanksgiving, her family—siblings Michael and Donna and their parents—noticed Courage, or “Curry” for short, was drinking more water than usual, urinating more often and moping around the house.
Curry’s symptoms are common among pets with diabetes, a disease that occurs when a body does not make enough or respond normally to insulin, a hormone manufactured by the pancreas that controls blood sugar levels.
The precise frequency of diabetes in dogs and cats is not known and can vary depending on the breed, but it is seen in both species. In dogs, diabetes is more common in females; in cats, it’s slightly more common in males.
“Most diabetic dogs are similar to humans with Type 1 diabetes; their pancreas is unable to make enough insulin,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of AAH. “In dogs, the most common causes are a dysfunctional immune system that damages the pancreas, or pancreatic injury that occurs due to an inflammatory condition called pancreatitis.”
Dr. Murray says canine diabetes can also occur as a side effect of medication, particularly steroids. It can also result from certain diseases like Cushing’s or an excess of certain hormones, which sometimes happens when a dog is not spayed.
Diabetes in felines, on the other hand, is more similar to Type 2 diabetes in humans. Its most common causes in cats: obesity and an excess of carbohydrates in the diet, which exhaust the pancreas. It can also occur in cats with pancreatitis or who are given steroids.
Feline diabetes can be reversible with insulin administration, a high protein/low-carb diet and maintenance of a healthy weight, allowing the pancreas to rest and regain the ability to manufacture adequate insulin. But diabetes will recur if cats go back to an inappropriate diet.
Unfortunately diabetes is not curable in dogs, and the vast majority of diabetic dogs require insulin injections for life once diagnosed. However, addressing underlying causes, as well as spaying females and treating Cushing’s disease, can allow the diabetes to be more easily and successfully controlled.
“Diabetic pets can have a wonderful quality of life if their owners commit to giving them twice-daily insulin injections and monitor them closely,” says Dr. Jill Pomrantz, an internist at AAH.
After her diagnosis, Curry began receiving treatment is back to being her bubbly, high-spirited self. Donna, who has had experience with diabetic pets, administers Curry’s twice-daily insulin shots and monitors her glucose levels.
“I know this process is not fixed overnight, but she looks much better and is more energetic,” Donna says. “The hardest part is not caving in to her pleas for treats all the time.” Curry loves celery, however, so that’s often provided as a substitute.
Please visit our Pet Care section to learn more about diabetes in dogs and cats.
It’s getting cold outside! As the mercury drops, it’s important to make sure our furry friends are staying warm this winter. Just as for humans,, too much exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and unpredictable wet weather like rain, sleet and snow can spell discomfort for our pets and result in chapped paws and itchy, flaky skin.
If the weather is too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for your pet as well. Help protect pets from cold weather dangers and keep them safe, happy and healthy this winter with these handy tips from our experts.
1.Rapid temperature changes caused by repeatedly coming out of the wet cold into the dry heat can often cause itchy and flaky skin. Make sure to keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside—be sure to give feet and the space between toes extra attention!
2.During cold spells, bathing your pets too often can remove necessary oils from their skin and fur, and can increase the change of skin irritation. Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold snaps, and if your pup must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo or rinse.
3.Longer coats provide more warmth during the coldest months, so give your pets a good brushing! Regular brushing not only gets rid of dead hair, it stimulates blood circulation to improve skin’s overall condition.
4. Dress your pet in a sweater or coat when they head outdoors. This will help retain body heat and prevent skin from getting dry or inflamed during winter walks.
5. Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm during the winter. Feed your pet a little bit of extra food during the cold weather and make sure plenty of water is available to keep pets well-hydrated and prevent skin dryness.
6. Winter walks can turn dangerous quickly if chemicals from ice-melting agents are licked off legs and paws. Throughout wipe off your dog’s legs, paws and stomach when he first comes inside and be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle. Consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
7. Remember, pets should stay indoors as much as possible during winter monthsand never leave your pup alone in the car!
In many parts of the country, winter weather is in full swing. For those experiencing snowy or icy conditions, it’s important to keep in mind that the winter season poses some elevated health risks for our pets—including our pets’ paws. Before you take your pups outside for a stroll through the snow, check out a few of our winter paw-care tips:
Towel off. It’s helpful to bring a towel along on long walks to clean off irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between her toes.
New shoes, please. Purchasing booties for your pet’s paws help minimize contact with painful salt crystals, poisonous anti-freeze and chemical ice-melting agents. They can also help prevent sand and salt from getting lodged in between bare toes, causing irritation.
Use petroleum jelly for paw protection. Massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before you head outside helps guard them from salt and chemical agents. Also, moisturizing your pet’s paws after you clean them aids the healing process when they’re chapped.
Halloween, the spookiest, kookiest day of the year, is finally here! It’s time to bust out the glitter and fake blood, and dress up your pets in the cutest, cleverest costumes you can find. But wait—is trick-or-treat apparel really a good idea for your furry friends?
The ASPCA suggests putting your pet in a costume only if you’re sure he will enjoy it. Some pets love the limelight: wearing a costume and posing for pictures is a blast! Others prefer to stick to their birthday suits for all occasions, and being dressed like a pumpkin for their pet parents’ amusement can cause unnecessary stress.
If you decide to have your pet wear a costume, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Your pet’s Halloween garb should not constrict his movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Be sure to try on costumes in advance—and if your furry friend seems distressed, you’ll want to ditch the lion’s mane or superhero cape.
Examine your pet’s costume and make sure it doesn’t have any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
IDs, please! Make sure your dog or cat has proper identification underneath that cute costume. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost during Halloween festivities, tags or a microchip can be lifesavers.
You’ve brought a new dog into your home—congratulations! Now comes your first dog-training challenge: house training.
House training is not an exact science—there’s no sure-fire formula or timetable that will work for every dog. The important thing is to make it a positive experience. Here are a few tips to help you through it.
Do: Supervise your dog. Limit the dog’s run of the house to the one or two rooms where you are able to see her at all times. Dogs usually show “pre-pottying” behavior such as sniffing, circling and walking with stiff back legs; all signs that you should get her to the potty area ASAP! As the training begins to take hold, you can slowly enlarge her territory.
Don’t: Yell at a dog for a mess she made earlier. If you catch her in the act, it’s okay to startle her by clapping or making a noise (hopefully this will stop her long enough for you to whisk her outside). But a dog will not learn anything by being scolded for a past accident, even one a few minutes old. Just clean it up and soldier on.
Do: Offer big praise when she gets it right. Whether your goal is for your dog to eliminate on pee pads indoors or to do it outside, you have to really throw a party for her when she succeeds. Lavish her with praise, affection and some yummy treats!
Don’t: Rub her face in it. In addition to this action making your dog fear you, she’s incapable of making the connection that it’s the act of soiling indoors you object to—to her, you just really hate pee and poop. If she thinks that the waste itself is what you dislike, she’ll only get sneakier about hiding it from you.
Do you have any fool-proof house training tips? Share them in the comments!