For me, it's my Dad and some people at work right now. In the past it included my grandfathers and one of my great-grandmothers.
So we all think we know what diabetes is. We've seen the glucose meters and the sugar free treats in the candy aisle and the little diabetic recipe magazines in the checkout aisles in the supermarkets.
But diabetes in pets, while at its heart not a different animal, is a whole lot more complex.
I'm going to try to break it down for you in a few easy parts.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
|Courtesy of VCA Hospitals.|
There are two major types of diabetes:
- Type I: The body (specifically the pancreas) is no longer able to produce insulin. Dogs typically get this form of diabetes, though cats can too.
- Type II: The body can still produce some insulin, but whatever is produced is no longer able to lower the blood sugar level. You sometimes here this called borderline diabetes. Cats often get this type of diabetes first. Dogs very rarely get this type.
That's a very good question. And right now there is no definitive answer.
Could it be obesity? According to Dr. Lorie Huston, DVM, certainly in cats.
"Fat tissue is actually part of the [feline] endocrine system and secretes a number of different hormones, some of which affect the regulation of glucose," Huston said. "One of these hormones, adiponectin, increases sensitivity to insulin. In overweight cats, less adiponectin is secreted, leading to a decrease in sensitivity to insulin."
So decrease the sensitivity to insulin, the less effective it will be in breaking down sugars in the blood.
But what about Dogs?
Dr. Joe Bartges is the Acree Endowed chair of small animal research at University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine. He says there's an effect, but not a direct one so far.
"Obesity plays a role in type I diabetes but does not necessarily directly cause it," Bartges said. "Obesity does induce some insulin resistance, but not pancreatic burn out."
Could it be genetics? Some dogs are predisposed to it. According to Dr. Joe Bartges of University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, these breeds seem to be at a higher risk:
- Miniature schnauzers
- Toy and miniature poodles
- German shepard
- Golden retriever (but they have another problem -- cancer)
- American pit bull terrier
- Miniature Pinscher
- Cairn terrier
- Poodle (no specification)
So what about prevention? We'll talk about that on Monday.