The Dangerous Link Between Pet Obesity and Diabetes
It’s no secret that obesity is a major health concern in the U.S., but did you know that over half the nation’s pets are also classified as overweight or obese? Obese pets are at risk for many of the same health problems as humans, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
According to a 2015 Nationwide Pet Insurance survey, diabetes is the third most common obesity-related disease in cats and the sixth most common in dogs. Because pet obesity and diabetes are closely linked, pet owner education and diligence are required to help ensure pets remain healthy.
Pet Obesity and Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus (the most common form of the condition in pets) is a disease of the pancreas. In a healthy animal, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone responsible for converting sugar to energy and regulating overall blood sugar levels. In a diabetic pet, the body either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot use insulin effectively, leading to insulin resistance. Serious health complications, and eventually death, can result from untreated diabetes.
Signs that your pet may be developing diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- More frequent urination
- Weight loss
- Pungent breath (often described as having a “sweet” or “chemical” odor)
- Overall weakness
- Cloudy eyes
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Your pet’s diet is extremely important when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Not only should your pet be eating a highly nutritious commercial pet food, but strict adherence to portion control should play a central role. Your veterinarian will work with you to come up with a dietary plan that works for your pet.
The other main factor in the healthy weight equation is exercise. Our pet’s bodies are built to move, but all too often, we end up leading sedentary lifestyles. A daily walk is the perfect form of low-impact exercise. Luckily, January is National Walk Your Dog Month – the perfect time to start a new exercise program with your pet!
Before you begin, make sure you’ve checked all the boxes for safety and success:
- Check with your vet. We’ll make sure your pet is healthy enough for exercise and help you figure out a routine that fits your pet’s unique needs.
- Bring the necessities. Make sure your pet has a collar, current ID tags and microchip, a sturdy leash (no retractable leashes), and waste baggies.
- Start slowly. Just as you wouldn’t begin with a 5-mile run on your first day of exercise, your pet should gradually build up to longer/faster outings over time.
- Pay attention. Be on the lookout for signs of exhaustion or injury, such as excessive panting, drooling, limping, or slowing down. Take plenty of breaks, and provide water when needed.
The team at New Haven Pet Hospital is committed to helping your pet live the longest, happiest, and healthiest life possible! Please let us know if you have any questions about pet obesity and diabetes.