November is National Pet Diabetes month. Pet owners are being encouraged to become more aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes.
"Right now Lexie's about 56.2 pounds," said pet owner Tracey Sanguiliano.
Lexie, a 5-year-old, a pit bull mix seem look happy, but she's got a potentially dangerous health problem.
"She's overweight, so what we're trying to do is to prevent diseases like diabetes mellitus, heart disease," said veterinarian Dr. Edgardo Ortiz.
Lexie's owner, Tracey Sanguiliano, of Scotch Plains, said the pooch began putting on pounds when she was pregnant.
"I didn't get to take her out for her long walks like we used to do," said Sanguiliano. "During my pregnancy, she gained a tremendous amount of weight. and she spiked up to 67 pounds from 45 pounds."
A report by the nation's largest chain of veterinary clinics, Banfield Pet hospital, found that overweight pets are leading to an increase in the rate of diabetes. Among dogs, it's up 32 percent in the last four years, among cats, a 16 percent increase in diabetes.
Besides not getting enough exercise, another problem is people overfeeding their pets, often times ignoring the recommended amounts listed on the food labels.
In cats, diabetes can often be managed with a change of diet recommended and supervised by a veterinarian. In dogs, diabetes must be managed with insulin.
"It's so easy to over feed your pets because you know what, they feel good and they're happy when you give them a treat," said Sanguiliano.
"It's very dangerous to give table food. Table food can cause any type of diabetes in the future, overweight. It can cause heart problems," Ortiz said.
The high cost of vet visits may be one reason why illnesses are on the rise. If your animal becomes sick, pet health insurance can help, but make sure you know what's covered.
As for Lexie, "so far she already lost about eleven pounds, but we have about 10 more pounds to decrease," Ortiz said.
These days, she's doing more exercise, including playing with Tracey's 1-year-old son Lucas.
"Once we get Lexie's weight in check, Lucas will have a lot of years with Lexie running around the backyard. So we're looking forward to that," said Sanguiliano."
Exercise and proper nutrition: the keys, say veterinarians to a healthy pet.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes of which pet owners should be aware:
• Increase in water consumption
• Increase in urination
• Increase in appetite
• Weight loss
• Cataracts may be present if diabetes has been existent for a longer period of time.
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