What you need to know about pets and diabetes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

What you need to know about pets and diabetes


Once a day, Mary Steffensmeier of Waterloo has to give an insulin shot to her cat Muffy.

Steffensmeier adopted Muffy about two years ago. In July, her furry friend was diagnosed with diabetes.

"Her sugar was 500, and I learned that normal for cat was less than 200, so she was pretty high. That's why Muffy had to start insulin right away," said Mary Steffensmeier.

Muffy was at a higher risk of getting diabetes because she was taking a steroid for a skin condition. Some cats and dogs are more likely to develop diabetes because of genetics. Some pets the pancreas shuts down, but weight is reason more animals are developing diabetes.

"From day one when you start with a new puppy or kitten, a good, well balanced diet is key," said Dr. Tom Taylor with Den Herder Veterinary Clinic.

A good diet consists of food that has complex carbohydrates, is high in fiber and lower in fat.

"Some of that stuff is going to be dependent on the dog itself, but if you can control the diet and the weight, you've done your job," said Dr. Taylor.

Dr. Taylor said there are three big signs your pet could have diabetes: drinking a lot, urinating more often and eating more food without gaining weight.

Mary Steffensmeier noticed at least two signs with Muffy.

"The real obvious sign was when I found a large pile of urine on the floor and knew that wasn't normal. The next thing was very unusual, she sat right next to her water bowl and that water bowl would be almost dry," she said.

Since starting insulin and switching to a prescription cat food, Muffy is doing well. Steffensmeier is always trying to find new ways to keep all three of her cats active.

"So diet and exercise is still a treatment for Muffy along with insulin, and there still is hope with diet and exercise she might be able to reduce her insulin more or get off it all together," said Steffensmeier.

Her advice to other pet owners is not to wait if you suspect something is wrong with your pet.

"It's worth it to go get treatment and find out what it is because if you delay anything, there can be complications that can get worse and more expensive," she said.

Having a pet with diabetes isn't cheap. The insulin costs money and prescription food is more expensive, but Steffensmeier said it's worth giving her pet a better quality of life.

Like humans, animals properly treated for diabetes typically live a long, full life.

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