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Dr. Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian and owner of Little Creek Veterinary Clinic, attended a lecture on the role of veterinarians in emergencies and natural disaster response.

He learned that the major challenges pets face after a widespread disaster (such as hurricane, flood, tornado) are: lack of adequate food and shelter, lack of access to medical care, the increased rate of infectious diseases, and the exacerbation of existing disease.

Disaster clean-up and recovery efforts can take a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks to effect change, and often take longer. For those people displaced, life may not return to normal for 4 to 6 months, according to Dr. Jenifer Chatfield, an expert on emergency response. What will happen to chronically ill pets during those 4 to 6 months? More on that, later.

In an emergency, veterinarians may volunteer to assist with recovery efforts in their community, or they may work to re-open their medical practice as soon as possible, to provide for pets’ healthcare needs. At the community level, human needs for food, clean drinking water, shelter, and medical care are met first. Then care can be extended to pets. Knowing that a hierarchy of assistance exists will help you make better disaster planning decisions.
Challenges for Pets During Disasters
*Infectious diseases may spread more rapidly.
-Leptospirosis is contracted through contaminated water and displaced wildlife
-Rabies is spread through displaced wildlife, which comes into more frequent contact with homeless pets
-Distemper, Influenza, and Parvovirus spread among pets kept in close quarters, such as at shelters
*Parasites increase in number
-Fleas, gastrointestinal parasites, and heartworms spread more easily when pets do not receive their regular doses of preventative
*Existing, chronic diseases are left untreated and worsen
-Diabetes, congestive heart failure, kidney or liver failure, pancreatitis, and more, worsen when drugs and special diets are no longer available to treat them. This can happen when people are trying to get life back on track and pet care may not be given high priority.

Not all disasters can be foreseen, but when you have advance warning, be sure to have a plan in place.

*If you evacuate, where will you go and how soon will you leave?
*If evacuating — whether to a shelter, hotel, or another home — will you be able to bring your pets?

*When preparing supplies, such as food and drinking water, include your pets’ needs in the calculations.
*When severe weather is forecast, find out from your pet’s veterinarian if you can stock up on prescription drugs and diets, to last through several weeks of recovery.
*If evacuating, bring your pet’s flea and heartworm preventatives.
*Be certain that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date, or schedule an appointment with the veterinarian to bring all vaccines and preventative treatments current.

More information
Learn about Norfolk’s emergency shelter for pets and people here.
Get a helpful planning guide from Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.
Get facts on infectious diseases for dogs and cats, including Rabies.

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What’s going on in November?
This is a busy month, with your in-laws arriving, and a turkey to be cooked, and Christmas presents to be purchased.
On top of that — it’s National _______ _______ Month!
See below:

ASPCA’s Adopt a Senior Pet Month

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month

National Pet Diabetes Month

Manatee Awareness Month

One Health Day
November 3

USDA’s Bird Health Awareness Week
November 6-12
First full week of November starting with a Sunday

National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week
November 6-12
First full week of November starting with a Sunday

Get Smart about Antibiotics Week
November 14-20

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Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal.

So what’s wrong with all those animals?

The answer: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word? Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis.]

The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

Feed your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg.
Move your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup, if you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang.
Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you want to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of dogs or cats are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

*****************************************************************
Resources for this article include:
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult
*****************************************************************
This article was originally posted on Nov. 12, 2012 and Nov. 20, 2014.

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Can cats and dogs develop diabetes?

The answer is – YES. Cats and dogs can develop diabetes. Luckily, treatment is available.

Diabetes 010

What is diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough insulin (Type I) or is unable to effectively use the insulin it does produce (Type II). In either case, serious health disturbances result.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, necessary for processing blood sugar (glucose). Without insulin, blood sugar passes into the urine, rather than being used by body tissues.

When body tissues are starved for sugar, they begin to break down and no longer function normally, resulting in:

  • cataracts
  • skin sores and infections
  • urinary and respiratory infections
  • pancreatitis
  • neuropathy
  • vomiting and dehydration
  • coma and death

The kidneys, liver, heart, and nervous system can also suffer as a result of diabetes.

Type I diabetes is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and is often seen in older, overweight female dogs and in cats.

Type II diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is often seen in cats, but is rare in dogs.

What signs should I look for in my pet?

  • excessive thirst and urination
  • weight loss
  • poor appetite
  • weakness, inactivity
  • vomiting
  • dandruff and unkempt appearance (scruffy coat)
  • muscle wasting
  • plantigrade stance in cats (see photo)
Click to enlarge. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Click to enlarge. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

What causes diabetes?

  • genetic predisposition
  • viral infection
  • pancreatitis and other diseases
  • hormone-type drugs
  • obesity

Is there a cure?
No, diabetes is not curable, but it can be controlled.

What kind of treatment is available?
Insulin injections and a specialized diet are indicated for Type I diabetes. You will learn how to give your pet its insulin injections at home. You may also need to monitor its blood sugar and urine sugar levels.

Type II diabetic patients may require a specialized diet and feeding schedule, along with blood sugar monitoring.

Nearly all diabetic patients require some amount of exercise, and female patients should be spayed to prevent hormone fluctuations from disturbing blood sugar levels.

As for diet, low carbohydrate, low fat, high fiber, high protein diets work best. Your pet’s veterinarian or vet specialist will recommend a suitable diet to manage glucose levels and weight. Hill’s Pet Nutrition has formulated m/d, r/d, and w/d to address various issues concerning diabetic dogs and cats.

Will pet insurance help me manage the cost of treatment?
Yes.*  In fact Veterinary Pet Insurance reported in 2010 that its fifth most common health claim for cats was diabetes. In 2011, diabetes dropped to number six on the list, but still represented a large number of claims.
*Important: if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes before you sign up for pet insurance, it is considered a pre-existing condition and may not be covered. Pet health insurance is best started when your pet is young and healthy.

Note: The information above is a partial explanation of diabetes, its symptoms, and treatment. There are other types of diabetes that are not mentioned here.
This article is not a substitute for medical care. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition. If you believe your pet has an illness, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today.

*******************************************************************
Resources:
Hill’s Pet Nutrition publication
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

********************************************************************
This post originally appeared on October 10, 2012.

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Diabetes blog

November is Pet Diabetes Month. Cats and dogs can develop this disease of the pancreas that affects many other body functions.

Take this quiz to find out whether your pet is at risk of developing diabetes.

On Thursday, we’ll learn more about diabetes, its symptoms, and treatments.

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New Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight Applies to Our Pets As Well

Brea, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2015) The number one New Year’s resolution in America is to lose weight and data shows that pet owners should extend that resolution to their dogs and cats. New data released by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., (VPI), the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reveals that pet obesity is on the rise for the fourth straight year. In 2013, VPI policyholders filed for more than $52 million in claims for conditions and diseases that can be related to pet obesity, a 7.3 percent growth from 2012.

    Table scraps and excessive treats are major contributors associated with disproportionate weight gain in pets. Similar to their human counterparts, excessive body fat increases the risk of preventable health problems and shortens the life expectancy of pets. VPI, a Nationwide company, recently sorted through its database of more than 525,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Below are the results:

Most Common Dog Obesity-Related Conditions Most Common Cat Obesity-Related Conditions
1. Arthritis 1. Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
2. Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease 2. Chronic Kidney Disease
3. Low Thyroid Hormone 3. Diabetes
4. Liver Disease 4. Liver Disease
5. Torn Knee Ligaments 5. Asthma
6. Diabetes 6. Arthritis
7. Diseased Disc in the Spine 7. High Blood Pressure
8. Fatty Growth 8. Heart Failure
9. Chronic Kidney Disease 9. Gall Bladder Disorder
10. Heart Failure 10. Immobility of Spine

 

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

“Pet owners need to be aware of the damage excessive weight gain can have on their pet,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Pet lovers need to be conscious of the calories in food and treats they are giving their pets. The New Year is a perfect time for pet owners to start managing their pet’s eating habits and establish a regular exercise routine to avoid obesity. Regular wellness visits to your veterinarian are the most effective way to monitor your pet’s weight, along with being aware of signs of weight gain.”

    In 2013, VPI received more than 39,000 canine claims for arthritis, the most common joint disease aggravated by excessive weight. The average claim fee was $300 per pet. For cats, bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common condition that can be aggravated by obesity. VPI received 4,700 medical claims for this ailment – with an average claim amount of $420 per pet.

    In addition to taking pets to the veterinarian for regular wellness visits, below are simple tests you can perform to determine if your pet needs to lose weight: 

  • You should be able to lightly feel your pet’s ribs without pressing.
  • You should see a noticeable “waist” on your pet, between the back of the ribs and the hips, when viewing your pet from above. When looking from the side, your pet’s belly should go up from the bottom of the ribcage to inside the thighs.

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

    With more than 525,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide family of companies and is the first and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

    VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.

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Every year, around Turkey Time (that’s Thanksgiving and Christmas), pets are rushed to the emergency room with a sudden onset of illness after sharing the family meal.

So what’s wrong with all those animals?

The answer: acute pancreatitis.

[How do you say that word? Try this: pan-cree-uh-tie-tis.]

The pancreas is a V-shaped abdominal organ that produces digestive enzymes and insulin. (Insulin regulates blood sugar. A lack, or insufficient quantity, of insulin results in diabetes.) 

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, in which the organ essentially digests itself via the enzymes it produces.

(More info below — keep scrolling!)

[Pets Best Insurance reveals bizarre
holiday-related pet insurance claims – click here!]

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

What causes acute pancreatitis?
Common causes are:

  • high-fat diets (long-term)
  • singular high-fat meal (like meat trimmings)
  • obesity
  • infection
  • blockage of the pancreatic duct
  • abdominal injury or surgery
  • hyperstimulation by certain drugs and venom

Because of the high fat content of many holiday feasts, pets that are fed from the table are at serious risk of becoming gravely ill. In some cases, pancreatitis will be fatal.

We recommend feeding your pet its own food prior to mealtime, to make it less likely to beg. If you or your guests are tempted to share food with Fluffy and Fang, we recommend moving your pets to a separate area of the house during mealtime and after-dinner cleanup.

Let your guests know that your pets are on a strict diet and cannot have table food. If you have to – blame the vet! We’re always happy to play wet blanket when it comes to giving pets unnecessary – and even harmful – treats.

Symptoms of pancreatitis
Watch for:

  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • depression
  • collapse from shock

How do you know if a pet is experiencing abdominal pain?
Look for these signs:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • trembling
  • hunched-up posture
  • “praying” posture
  • resting on cool surfaces
  • vocal or physical response to touch (on the belly)

Which types of dogs or cats are most at risk of pancreatitis?
Normally, in this type of article, I list the age span, breeds, and gender of dog or cat most commonly affected by the disorder. I am not going to do that in this post for one specific reason: I do not wish to give any pet owner the impression that his or her pet is “safe” from pancreatitis and can join in the family meal. We just don’t recommend it for any pet.

Take Action
If you believe your cat or dog may have pancreatitis (even at a non-holiday time of year), take him to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Hospital. Immediate intervention in a critical care setting will give your pet the best chance at recovery.

Remember: some cases of pancreatitis can be deadly, so prevention and early intervention are key to your pet’s good health.

*****************************************************************
Resources for this article include:
Instructions for Veterinary Clients
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult
*****************************************************************
This article was originally posted on November 12, 2012.

Read Full Post »

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