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Diabetes in Cats and Dogs

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This week, World Diabetes Day was once again recognised (14 November), with the general focus is on the human condition, but Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a common disease in canine and feline medicine. It is a syndrome associated with prolonged hyperglycaemia due to loss or dysfunction of insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells, decreased tissue sensitivity to insulin, or both.

According to animal health experts in Spain, risk factors for developing DM in both dogs and cats include insulin resistance caused by obesity, certain diseases, or the use of some medications, such as steroids, progestins, or cyclosporine.

Regarding diseases, diabetes due to acromegaly and kidney disease have been described in cats; for hyperadrenocorticism, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypothyroidism in dogs; and for dental disease, systemic infection, pancreatitis, and pregnancy or diestrus (estrous cycle phase) in dogs and cats.

In addition, genetics is suspected to be a risk factor, and certain breeds of dogs, such as Australian terriers, beagles, Samoyeds, or Keeshonds, and cats, such as Burmese (especially in Australia and Europe), are more susceptible.

In the dog, beta cell loss tends to be rapid and progressive, and is usually due to immune-mediated destruction , vascular degeneration, or pancreatitis. On the other hand, studies have shown that diabetic cats have remission rates between 15 and 100%.

A report on the state of pet health in the United States already warned that diabetes mellitus in dogs had increased by 79.7% between 2006 and 2015. For its part, the prevalence in cats increased by 18.1% during the same period.

Regarding prevalence, a 2020 study detected an apparent annual prevalence of 0.26% in dogs over 3 years of age. In general, previous studies have estimated that diabetes in dogs has a prevalence of approximately 0.32-0.36%.

Likewise, another study, in this case from 2016, showed that the prevalence in cats was 0.58%. Previous studies have offered varied prevalence, for example, some showed 0.21% in Swedish cats, while in others the prevalence reached 1.24% in American cats.

In general, based on the American Association of Animal Hospitals (AAHA) Diabetes Management Guidelines, which were published in 2018 but received updates this year, insulin therapy is the mainstay of diabetes management clinic.

However, dietary management is also part of the treatment. The goals of dietary therapy are to optimise body weight with appropriate levels of protein and carbohydrates, fat restriction, and calorie and portion control. Thus, the goal in dogs and cats is weight loss in obese patients or stopping weight loss associated with diabetes.

In addition to these two treatments, there is the option of nutraceuticals, which can be complementary to the pharmacological and dietary treatment of feline and canine diabetes. In this area, Dr+Vet Pet Care, the brand of nutraceuticals or complementary foods for pets of the Spanish veterinary company Böthmen Pharma, have presented a new product to the veterinary community that they will launch this year.

They did so within the framework of the National Congress of the Association of Spanish Veterinary Specialists in Small Animals (Avepa) – Southern European Veterinary Conference (Sevc) which took place last October.

This is Glyco, the first food supplement to complement the treatment of animal diabetes in Spain. This complementary food for dogs and cats in the form of a palatable powder works by increasing insulin sensitivity, stimulating and helping to regenerate the Beta cells of the pancreas, and reducing glucose absorption and its use, thus helping to control long-term diabetes.

It is a product with a hypoglycaemic and antioxidant function and with antihyperlipidemic and hepatoprotective properties, rich in natural extracts from plants and seeds with antidiabetic effects, supplemented with L-carnitine and enriched with vitamins.

In this way, Glyco can be used both as a complement to pharmacological treatment, since it enhances the effectiveness of insulin therapy, and as a dietary supplement, since it helps control weight. In addition, it is recommended for the maintenance of cases of remission in cats and for dogs or cats with hyperlipidaemia, as it helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.

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