Diabetes & Your Pet – Drop the Pounds, Fight the Disease

So, you know the basics about diabetes in your pets and how serious it is here in this country.  You also know that obesity plays a HUGE ugly role in the disease.  What is the best way to fight obesity??  EXERCISE!

Now, as a dog walker, I am obviously going to tell you the best, easiest, cheapest, fun-est way to exercise your dog is by simply taking him or her for a walk.  Not only are you going to see the pounds drop off your pooch, you are going to see the bond between the two of your strengthen.  (Oh, and it’s healthy for you too!)  But maybe you don’t like to do things the easy way!  Maybe you have money burning a hole in your pocket, and dog exercise equipment is what you really love to spend your hard-earned cash on.  No worries!  We’ve got some great suggestions for you:

Go Pet Treadwheelswww.gopetusa.com

Living in New York City, the only pets I had time (or money!) for were two mice.  Those two gals LOVED their wheel and had different, intricate games they would play together using it.  (It was really something to watch…and video of them on their wheel was used as a backdrop for a modern dance piece performed on Broadway…making their NYC performance career more successful than my own!)  Go Pet has taken this mouse-running-on-a-wheel-for-exercise concept and made it dog sized.  While this seems like a clever idea, I just can’t imagine dogs really using this.  (There is even video of a cat running in one of these things on their website! )  The site advertises this as a great way for dogs to exercise when their parents are away (would a pup or cat really do that??) or when the weather is bad, but $475-$1125 seems a lot to pay so that you can sit on your booty while your pet works up a sweat.  On the other hand, I bet it is adorably entertaining to see your dog running on a big hamster wheel!

Canine Fitness Camp – Morris Animal Innwww.morrisanimalinn.com

Reading about Morris Animal Inn’s Weight Loss and Fitness Camp made me wonder if I could go too!  For about $50/day, Fido enjoy swimming, nature hikes, healthy fruit smoothies….along with “pampering massages“, “Doga“, and “Pawlates“.  (Ok, seriously…I REALLY want to go!)  I think this is a GREAT idea.  I know how hard it can be to start a diet/exercise plan – and this seems like the perfect way to kickstart your pooch’s regime.  This camp is sure to get your dog excited about getting out and being active…and the excitement is sure to carry over once you take your pup back home.

Chase It Pet Productswww.chaseit.com

This is another familiar pet toy, super sized!  Cats love these string toys, but for some reason the dog sized version of this just seems ridiculous.  I just can’t see myself lugging this fishing-pole-like contraption to the park…when an old-fashioned ball seems like it would get my pup going just as well.  They retail for about $25 – which isn’t a crazy amount to spend on something for my pet – but seems a bit over priced for something that looks like a fifth grader made it for Invention Convention.  (Does anyone know what I’m talking about?)

So get your dog running on that wheel, send them to boot camp, or get them jumping for joy over a toy!  Go to the park, around the block, or just out in the backyard.  Exercising with a buddy is always more fun – and it will be good for you AND man’s best friend to get some daily cardio in.  By taking such a simple step, you will make a giant leap in preventing diabetes in your pup.

For more information on obesity in pets and how to prevent it – visit The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s website.  It’s a great resource!

Wags & Whiskers Wednesday (#5)

Happy first Wednesday in February!

Enjoy these pics of some ADORABLE pups that I saw today!  I’m keeping this post short and sweet as my new insulin pump is making me feel less than my best.  (Read more about diabetes – in humans and dogs – in the first article of our Diabetes & Your Pet series.)

Diabetes & Your Pets – Introduction

STOP Diabetes - in Humans and Pets!

Three days ago, this diabetic dog lover broke down and finally went on an insulin pump.  I have spent the last few weeks reading up on the disease and the various ways to treat it in humans.  As dogs are never far from my thoughts, it wasn’t too long before the idea of diabetes collided with the idea of pets in my brain.  How is diabetes in pets diagnosed?  What can you do for a pet with diabetes?  How do they even get diabetes in the first place?  These are all questions I asked myself when I was first diagnosed back in my last sugar-filled year (2005)….and they seemed valid questions now that diabetes in our pets is becoming more common place: about 1 in 500 dogs and 1 in 400 cats have the disease.

I was shocked to discover that human diabetes is extremely similar to diabetes found in dogs and cats.  When researching it in dogs, I swear I was reading word for word some of the passages I had just read in my pre-pump training.  The symptoms of the disease in pets are lethargy, excessive water consumption, increased urination, and unexplained weight loss or weight gain.  (The symptoms in humans are fatigue, increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, and weight loss.)  There are two types of diabetes that can be found in people and pets – diabetes insipidus (dealing with kidneys and how they process water) and diabetes mellitus (dealing with insulin deficiency.)  These two diseases are completely different, but for now we are just going to be discussing diabetes mellitus – which is divided into Type 1 and Type 2 for humans, cats, and dogs.

Interestingly, Type 1 is more common than Type 2 in our pets…completely opposite of us humans.  Cats are more likely to develop Type 2 , though….while nearly all dogs have Type 1.  This means that dogs almost always have to be administered insulin shots while cats can often get off with a change of diet and other medications.  (Maybe we should change the expression to “You lucky cat!”)

Human using a glucose monitor

Dog using a glucose monitor (looks similar, doesn't it?)

What I found especially fascinating was the fact that you can use a human glucometer to test the blood sugar of dogs and cats.  Isn’t that crazy?!  You can also the same insulin (literally the exact same insulin that I use myself) on dogs and cats. (Heaven help you if you have to give your kitty insulin shots!)

Bigger dogs are more susceptible to developing diabetes…along with certain breeds (LabsPoodles, Miniature Schnauzer, Dachshunds to name a few) that seem prone to the disease.  Sometimes it is hereditary (just like humans.)

Sadly…obesity seems to play a HUGE part in diabetes developing in dogs and cats.  This has become an epidemic among American people and their pets.  In the next Diabetes & Your Pets post, I am going to post some startling statistics about how overweight our pets are.  Be sure to check back this week!

Wags & Whiskers Wednesday

Another Wednesday!

Hope everyone is enjoying their week thus far.  I’ve been having a bit of a rough time with my diabetes lately (new doctor and new treatment plan,) and I have never been more appreciative of the dogs in my life.  Over the years, I have gotten to know the dogs I walk almost as well as I know my own sweet Buffy…and I think they know me pretty well too.  When I’m down in the dumps, these pups kick up the cuteness, give me extra kisses, and look at me with those knowing eyes as if to say “It’s gonna be OK.”

Sometimes you don’t need words…you just need someone to cuddle up to quietly!

Enjoy these adorable puppy pics!  Please keep the submissions coming all week long: blog@wagsandwhiskershouston.com.