FRIDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Like all good pet owners, Christine Wong didn't hesitate to go to a veterinary clinic near her home in Austin, Texas, when her cat, Kiki, wasn't feeling well.
"She just wasn't acting like herself," recalled Wong.
After running a blood and urine test, the doctor discovered the Persian-mix feline has diabetes.
Diabetes is on the rise as America's cats and dogs grow fatter, according to a new report by Banfield Pet Hospital, a national chain of pet hospitals headquartered in Portland, Ore. Since 2006, diabetes jumped 32 percent in dogs and 16 percent in cats, says the report, which analyzed trends in common and preventable illnesses from the past five years.
Just as in people, diabetes is often linked to obesity and may require lifelong monitoring and treatment.
"The most important thing we can do for a cat with diabetes is getting it on a weight loss program," said Dr. Denise Elliott, a veterinarian with Banfield.
"We know that if we can get the weight off in conjunction with insulin injections, in many cases we can resolve the cat's diabetes," she added.
Fat cats are six times more likely to develop diabetes than their thinner feline cousins, Elliott said.
For the report, researchers crunched data from the records of 2.5 million dogs and cats cared for last year in its 770 hospitals nationwide.
Symptoms of diabetes in both dogs and cats may include excessive urination, increased thirst and weight loss, despite a hearty appetite. If not detected and treated early, dogs in advanced stages of the disease might develop cataracts and cats may experience hind-limb weakness, Elliott said.
There are two types of diabetes mellitus. Dogs often get type 1 (insulin-dependent), which is similar to the form seen in children, in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that helps cells turn sugar
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