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Pet diabetes soars by 900 per cent

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The obesity epidemic sweeping Britain is taking toll on pets as well as their owners according to data from pet insurer Animal Friends which reveals a startling increase in the number of pets diagnosed with diabetes.

The alarm was raised after a survey of 9000 pets which showed the rise in the condition had risen by 900 per cent in just five years (1).

The study suggested that cats were at greatest risk with a shocking 1,161 per cent increase in feline cases being diagnosed since 2011. At the same time cases in dogs have increased by 850 per cent (1).

Experts say that a surge in overweight pets is at the heart of the problem.

Vet Dr Karland King MRCVS, Therapeutics Product Manager for MSD Animal Health which works with veterinary practices to promote the annual awareness campaign Pet Diabetes Month said weight gain and lack of exercise were key factors to blame.

These figures are a real concern. We know that weight gain leading to obesity is one of the chief reasons that pets, like people, fall victim to diabetes - Dr Karland King

She said: “These figures are a real concern. We know that weight gain leading to obesity is one of the chief reasons that pets, like people, fall victim to diabetes. It is often the case that in busy, time- poor pet owning households, exercise becomes a lower priority and owners will over-compensate for spending shorter periods of quality time with their animals by over feeding. Sometimes this extends to giving pets human food as a ‘treat’. In fact it is the reverse, something that is potentially harmful to health.”

She added that advice on the best diet for your pet is readily available through your vet.

Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, or sugar, in your dog’s blood. Diabetes results when the dog’s body makes too little insulin or doesn’t process insulin properly.

Signs of diabetes include lethargy, excessive thirst and frequent urination and in some cases, weight loss.

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Dr Karland King added: “If you’re concerned that your cat or dog may have diabetes, please take them to see your vet. They will carry out a thorough examination potentially including urine and blood samples in order to make a diagnosis.

“Should the tests prove positive, they will talk you the next steps but with prompt diagnosis and the right treatment, there is no reason why a pet with diabetes should not be able to lead a long and otherwise healthy and happy life.”

The study by Animal Friends, revealed that the British Shorthair was the most diagnosed cat breed, followed by Burmese, Foreign Shorthair, Maine Coon and Abyssinian breeds.

The most commonly diagnosed dog breed is the West Highland Terrier, followed by the Labrador, King Charles spaniel, Husky and Miniature Schnauzer.

Westley Pearson, Director of Claims for Animal Friends, said: “With weight issues and diabetes on the rise amongst human, we assumed we would find the same in people’s pets but the 900 per cent increase we uncovered was shocking.”

She said: “Follow the pet food packet guidelines on quantity and weigh out food to prevent overfeeding. Cut out the treats, as these can be very high in calories and, however tempting it may be, don’t feed your pet human food – this is a common cause of pet obesity.”

Reference:

1.    Study by Animal Friends of 9000 pets over five years published 2016 https://www.animalfriends.co.uk/blog/diabetes-pets-study-2016/

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Published: 11:08, 30 August 2016 | Updated: 11:23, 30 August 2016