Diabetes in Older Pets

cropped-cataracts-dogs2.jpgDiabetes is more common in older pets, but it can also occur in younger or pregnant pets. The disease is more manageable if it is detected early and managed with the help of your veterinarian. The good news is that with proper monitoring, treatment, and diet and exercise, diabetic pets can lead long and happy lives.

Diabetes in dogs and cats can occur at any age. However, diabetic dogs are usually 4-14 years of age and most are diagnosed at roughly 7-10 years of age.  Most diabetic cats are older than 6 years of age.  Diabetes occurs in female dogs twice as often as male dogs. Certain breeds of dogs may be predisposed to diabetes.

Noticing the early signs of diabetes is the most important step in taking care of your pet. If you see any of the following signs, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance your pet may have for a longer and healthier life.

  • Excessive water drinking and increased urination
  • Weight loss, even though there may be an increased appetite
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cloudy eyes (especially in dogs)
  • Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your veterinarian will prescribe an initial dose and type of insulin for your pet. Insulin cannot be given orally – it must be given by injection under the skin. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will teach you how to give the insulin injections, which involve a very small needle and are generally very well tolerated by the pet. It is not a one-size-fits-all treatment, your veterinarian may periodically need to adjust your pet’s treatment regimen based on the results of monitoring.  Dietary recommendations are an important part of treatment.

Successful treatment of diabetes requires regular examinations, blood and urine tests, and monitoring your pet’s weight, appetite, drinking and urination.

It is very important to maintain the proper insulin and feeding schedules recommended for your pet. It is also very important that your pet maintains a normal appetite while on insulin therapy, or you risk hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if your pet is not eating and absorbing enough sugars to balance the insulin’s effect of removing the sugars from the bloodstream. You will also need to regularly check your pet’s blood and urine sugar levels. Regular examinations and testing performed by your veterinarian may be supplemented by at-home monitoring of your pet’s blood and urine glucose levels at home.

Because older dogs and cats are more likely to develop age-related diseases or conditions, some of which could be confused with diabetes, regular examinations by a veterinarian can keep your pet healthy and detect problems before they become severe.

Diabetic dogs and cats can live long and healthy lives with proper management and veterinary care. If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior or weight, consult your veterinarian.

How to Help Senior Pets with Arthritis

Elderly pets are more prone to age related arthritis than younger pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, pets with arthritis develop pain in the joints and often require medication or natural supplements to help alleviate the soreness and pain they feel. Other products can also help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.

AVMA recommends that you keep your pet comfortable with soft bedding. Give lots of love and attention and provide accommodations for feeding if necessary.

Orthopedic beds, stair steps to help your pet get up to higher places (so they don’t have to jump), raised feeding platforms, and other special accomodations can help make your arthritic pet’s life more comfortable. 

Warming blankets may help soothe your elderly pet’s aching joints. And non slip surfaces or non skid socks may make it easier for your pet to get up more easily.

Lift harnesses and strollers can help you help your pet, regardless of their size or ability because their owners take some of the stress off their joints. For instance a lift harness can be used to help a pet up and down stairs, in and out of the car, or just getting outside to potty. Strollers are a great alternative for an older pet because they allow the pet to enjoy the outdoors, strolls in the park, etc. without added stress on their joints. A stroller is great for older pets with any type of joint pain, hip dysplasia or other leg issues such as growths, sores or even warts that may interfere with mobility.

In some cases, pets with arthritis may begin to soil themselves, so a waterless shampoo can help clean soiled areas between bathing. 

There are some great joint supplements that can also help senior pets, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. Other supplements can also help to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis in your pet. Use caution when selecting a supplement because some can interfere with medications your pet may be taking. 

If your elderly pet develops symptoms of arthritis, or if you suspect your pet is in any pain or discomfort, take him to the vet for a diagnosis and evaluate different treatment options.

We highly recommend pet insurance for parents of elderly pets. Arthritis is a very treatable condition that many elderly pets develop and pet insurance can often help pay for many of the treatments, medications or surgical procedures your vet may recommend. Visit our pet insurance facts page to learn more about pet insurance for senior pets. It’s important that you purchase pet insurance BEFORE your pet is diagnosed with an illness because most pet insurance companies don’t cover pre-existing conditions.

There are a wide variety of pet products available to help a senior pet suffering from arthritis. Below are some examples of pet products that may help an arthritic pet. We do not endorse or promote any of these products or companies. Products are listed for demonstration purposes only based on available information at the time of publication. You should always consult with your vet before purchasing pet products for your pet.you

Easy Peanut Butter Treats for Elderly Pets

Many elderly pets develop illnesses or become finicky as they age. Homemade dog treats are a much better alternative to store bought treats that are full of preservatives that are not great for pets, especially if your pet has developed sensitivities to certain foods or preservatives. 

These treats are easy to make with just a few ingredients and cost just pennies per treat.  Here’s our favorite recipe for healthy, preservative free dog treats.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

In a stand mixer, blend together flour and baking powder. Add water, peanut butter and egg then mix for 2 minutes until well blended. Mixture will be somewhat sticky but pliable. 

Roll out treats on floured parchment paper to approximately 1/4″ thickness. Use whatever size bone shaped cookie cutter is appropriate for your pet. Gently press the cutters into the dough then re roll the dough several times until most of the dough is used. Treats can also be rolled and cut into simple rectangles with a serrated knife if you do not have cookie cutters or if you prefer a very small treat. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and allow to cool thoroughly before giving to your pet.

Treats will be soft and can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Because there are no preservatives, these treats must be refrigerated to preserve freshness. Adding a paper towel to the sealed container will absorb moisture and help prevent them from getting moldy. Put the date they were baked on the treat container and discard after two weeks, if not sooner if any mold forms on the treats.   

Enjoy!

The bone shaped cookie cutters below come in a set of 6 assorted sizes that are perfect for a variety of size treats. 

What if your pet has a pre existing condition?

If your pet has a pre existing condition or accident and you are concerned about the high cost of potential vet bills, you may have considered pet insurance as an option. Unfortunately, there are no pet insurance policies for pets with pre existing conditions. So if you pet recently had an accident or was diagnosed with an illness, then you won’t be able to qualify for pet insurance. 

Fortunately, there is a program available that offers discounted vet medical care, which can make caring for an unwell pet more affordable. 

This particular program is not pet insurance so there are no exclusions, no forms to fill out and no deductibles to meet before your coverage kicks in. This also means you won’t be denied any claim for any reason. 

Whether your pet has a pre-existing condition like allergies or periodontal disease, a hereditary condition like hip dysplasia or diabetes, or is a type of pet that wouldn’t traditionally be covered by pet insurance, like rabbits or birds, you can save on their veterinary care. 

The only catch with this program is you must visit a participating vet in order to receive the discounts. 

If you have a pet with a pre existing condition, this program may be a good option for you because they are not a pet insurance company. Rather, it is a veterinary discount plan that offers you discounts on vet care for your pets, including pre existing conditions. The program is designed to be simple, efficient and all-inclusive of any and every pet, regardless of age, existing health conditions, or breed. You will not be asked to submit past vet records, prove that your pet is healthy or jump through hoops to get your pet enrolled. 

This program covers the following:

  1. Wellness visits
  2. Sick visits
  3. Emergency care and hospitalization
  4. Surgical procedures
  5. Spays and neuters
  6. Routine care and vaccines
  7. Dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays
  8. Allergy treatments
  9. Diabetes management
  10. Cancer care
  11. And much more

While this program does not reimburse you like pet insurance would, it is a practical way to reduce the cost of your veterinary medical bills and you receive the discounts from participating vets at the time of service, saving you money instantly. This program makes veterinary care a bit more affordable so you can ensure that your pet always gets the care he needs. 

We do not endorse or promote any products or companies. You should always consult your vet to determine what is most appropriate for your senior pet.