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Say no to diabetic dogs and cats Special To The Star-news | Sat, Aug 27 2011 12:00 PM

(NAPS) - Diabetes in humans is a well-known epidemic in the United States, but few pet owners realize the disease can also affect their pets. In fact, diabetes is growing among cats and dogs. If the diabetes is not managed, cats and dogs could be at higher risk for recurrent infections and other diabetes-related conditions, such as nervous system disorders and blindness in dogs.

Diabetes can result when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use the insulin produced. Because of this, the body's cells do not properly use glucose (or sugar), resulting in elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Cats and dogs with diabetes typically exhibit one or more common symptoms of the disease. By paying attention to changes in their pet's behavior, pet owners can work with their veterinarians to ensure their pets receive the treatment they need to properly manage diabetes. These symptoms may include:

1. More Frequent Urination. The kidneys flush excess glucose into the urine using water. The pet will urinate more often as the kidneys work to reduce the elevated blood sugar associated with diabetes.

2. Excessive Thirst. Similar to humans, diabetic cats and dogs will drink more water than usual due to increased urination as the kidneys work to reduce excess glucose in the body.

3. Increased Appetite Despite Weight Loss. Cells use glucose to produce energy. Without enough insulin, cells cannot use glucose as a source of energy. The cells "starve" and signal the pet to eat more. Most diabetics have increased hunger, but it is important to be aware that diabetic pets can become so ill that their appetite will go away and the pet will stop eating.

4. Weakness or Fatigue. Diabetic dogs and cats are frequently dehydrated and their bodies are not properly using glucose for energy. As a result, diabetic pets are often lethargic and tend to sleep more than usual.

Cats and dogs that exhibit one or more of the common symptoms should see a veterinarian, who can diagnose and help manage their disease. This may include helping pet owners set up a home-monitoring program with a blood glucose monitor specifically designed for cats and dogs, such as AlphaTRAK(r) Blood Glucose Monitoring System. With an early diagnosis and dedicated adherence to a veterinarian's treatment plan, a dog or cat with diabetes can be managed.

For more information on diabetes in cats and dogs, or to learn more about Abbott Animal Health's AlphaTRAK(r) meter, visit www.AbbottAnimalHealth.com or www.AlphaTRAKmeter.com.

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