Although the true incidence of diabetes among dogs and cats is unknown, pet health professionals believe that it is increasing due to the obesity epidemic and the longer lifespan of pets, according to a new report released by Abbott Animal Health.
The State of Diabetes report, launched in correspondence with November’s National Diabetes Awareness Month, is intended to provide background on diabetes in dogs and cats as well as strategies on how veterinarians and veterinary technicians can address risk factors and provide effective management.
To get the “360 degree view of diabetes,” Abbott Animal Health partnered with the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians, Banfield clinics, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Nestle Purina PetCare and Pets Best Insurance.
When it comes to prevalence, diabetes is more common in cats than dogs, according to unpublished data by the Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK) team, as cited by Abbott Animal Health. The BARK team looked at almost 1.9 million canine records and more than 406,390 feline records in 2009.
Comparable stats as it related to dogs were not available at press time, but other figures were provided showing that diabetes tends to afflict neutered male animals older than 10 years. Specifically, diabetes in dogs between 3 years and 9 years old was 0.3 percent, and it was 1 percent in those 10 or older, according to the BARK team.
“While diabetes is a chronic disease, it is something that clients are capable of managing,” David Bruyette, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, medical director at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital in Los Angeles, said in the report. “We always try to reassure the owner that this is something they can do, and it will not interfere with their life.”
The report highlights several main points for veterinarians and veterinary technicians, such as diagnosis, management and tips and tricks.
The diagnosis section includes information on pre-diabetes, clinical signs of diabetes, the difference between diabetes between dogs and cats and how animals could benefit form earlier diagnosis.
The management section of the report includes information on how diabetes can be managed using insulin and diet. It also covers the issue of home monitoring and details on how many veterinarians actually use home monitoring.
For instance, about 21 percent of diagnosed diabetics being monitored for blood glucose are initiated on home monitoring, according to Abbott Animal Health, which surveyed 805 veterinarians and veterinary technicians on the topic.
The report also includes a section on tips and tricks for veterinary professionals. Examples of such tips and tricks include: explain the disease to the owner; get veterinary technicians involved, such as teaching owners how to take a blood sample to monitor blood sugars and demonstrate how to give the insulin injection; help owners establish and follow a routine schedule; set achievable treatment plans; provide client education materials; and plan for ongoing support.
“Technicians should let pet owners know they are there to talk with, confide in and help them,” Julie Legred, CVT, said in the report. “Make them understand that diabetes is a treatable disease, and their pets can live normal lives if they comply with treatment and care every day.”
Legred is the president-elect of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America and a veterinary technician career specialist for Banfield, The Pet Hospital in Portland, Ore.