Diabetes results when an animal's pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Sugars build up in the bloodstream rather than enter the body's tissues where they would otherwise provide energy.
Excess sugar in the bloodstream can lead to several other conditions, including heart, liver and kidney disease, increased infections, slow healing, cataracts, blindness, etc. Risk factors for diabetes include:
*Poor diet (high carbohydrate kibble)
*Diestrus (several cycles in one breeding season for dogs)
Diabetes is more common in cats and dogs, although it does occur in ferrets as well. It is mainly seen in:
*Middle-aged and older dogs
*Male cats generally
*Middle-aged and older cats
Two common causes for pancreatic damage that may affect the secretion of insulin in ferrets are insulinoma surgery and pancreatitis. Common symptoms of pet diabetes mellitus include:
*Increased thirst, frequent urination
*Signs of pain in the abdomen
*Cataracts (eyes cloudy rather than clear)
Ferrets with diabetes tend to exhibit the same signs as cats and dogs, and usually have one of the predisposing factors for diabetes (adrenal disease, recent pancreatectomy for insulinoma, steroid therapy, obesity).
Diagnosing and treating Diabetes If you think your pet might have diabetes, you should take him to a vet. A veterinarian can diagnose diabetes mellitus by examining sugar levels in the pet's blood and urine.
If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, a healthy species-appropriate diet is highly recommended. If your pet is overweight, you should help him lose weight gradually through diet and increased exercise. Strenuous exercise is not recommended as it can increase insulin levels. Conventional treatment may also include regular injections of insulin. A veterinarian should perform a glucose or blood sugar curve in order to determine an appropriate feeding schedule. This will indicate the best time to give insulin and when to feed your pet. Management Of Diabetes In FerretsA prime component of diabetes management is diet: diabetic patients need to be on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. This gives the body fuel in the form of protein without making it work as hard as it does to digest the carbohydrates. Insulin therapy may also be recommended for the ferret.
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