Did you know that pets are commonly diagnosed with Diabetes and Thyroid problems, just like humans? Yes, dogs and cats can have Diabetes, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, and other endocrine problems. This month, we are screening for Diabetes by performing FREE BLOOD GLUCOSE tests with each exam! We are also offering $5 off thyroid screening tests throughout March.
WHAT IS DIABETES? Well, Diabetes is a high blood glucose level due to lack of production (or effect) of insulin by the pancreas. SIGNS OF DIABETES in dogs and cats can include: increased water consumption or thirst, increased amount or frequency of urination, and weight loss or weight gain for no apparent reason. Another finding common in diabetic pets is a urinary tract infection. This is due to the fact that excessive glucose (sugar) is excreted in the urine which makes a great environment in which to grow bacteria. You may notice that your pet’s urine is “sticky” if they have an accident in the house. DIAGNOSIS is through a blood test to check blood glucose (sugar) levels as well as a urinalysis to detect excess glucose in the urine. TREATMENT involves a special low carb/high fiber diet and insulin injections. Occasionally cats can be “cured” of Diabetes with just a change in diet. Dogs, however, are not as lucky and will usually require daily insulin injections. It is very important to MONITOR your diabetic pet’s blood sugar levels during treatment and frequently throughout their lives. A Glucose Curve, or series of blood glucose tests run in a 12 or 24 hours period, is used to determine the best level of insulin for your pet and to monitor their response to insulin as time progresses. A Fructosamine level is another way to monitor the stability of your pet’s blood sugar level over time.
HYPERTHYROIDISM – is an unusually HIGH level of thyroid function commonly seen in cats over the age of 8 years, which is usually caused by a thyroid tumor. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism, so a high level of thyroid hormone (T4) in the body will lead to weight loss despite a ravenous appetite. Hyperthyroidism can also lead to cardiac arrythmia (abnormal heartbeat) and stroke. DIAGNOSIS is through a blood test to check the T4 level. T4 will be very high in cats suffering from hyperthyroidism. The best TREATMENT method is I-131 radioactive iodine treatment to destroy the thyroid tumor. The I-131 treatment provides a cure. This treatment is done at a select few referral sites around the USA. There are also oral tablets and topical medications that can be applied to the skin on the inner ear to bind the extra T4 in the body. This type of treatment is life-long and does not actually cure the disorder, but does provide relief from the symptoms and can lead to a longer, healthier life. MONITORING T4 levels early on will allow proper dosage of medication and is recommended every 6 months thereafter.
HYPOTHYROIDISM – is an unusually LOW level of thyroid function commonly seen in dogs. The low function of the thyroid gland can be a result of decreased T4 production or destruction of T4 by auto antibodies. SYMPTOMS include obesity, excessive panting, seeking to be near heat sources, and skin/coat problems. DIAGNOSIS is confirmed by running a Thyroid Panel to check T4, Free T4 and TSH as well as Thyroid Auto Antibodies. We can run the T4 portion in house for MONITORING therapy, but recommend an running an entire panel for the initial diagnosis. TREATMENT is an oral thyroid supplement. This is also a life-long treatment.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog or cat, please book an appointment for a thorough examination and appropriate blood testing!
Stay Happy, Stay Healthy