Tag Archives: cats

Spaying/neutering your cat – always a fashion-must: Snip ‘kitten season’ in the bud this spring!

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Chef Joey’s beautiful kitties are “fixed”! (He also owns three dogs and feeds/cares for various and sundry feral cats in his big backyard.) Go, Joey, go!!!!

By Lindsay Pollard-Post
 
As surely as April showers bring May flowers, spring’s longer days bring kittens—lots and lots of them. Animal shelters from the Carolinas to California brace for what the sheltering community calls “kitten season.” It’s the time of year, starting in early spring and extending through the fall, when litter after litter of homeless kittens and pregnant cats come pouring in, and shelters scramble to accommodate them all.
 
Kittens may be cute, but the consequences of their overpopulation are anything but. Many are born on the streets—behind dumpsters or in dirty alleys—while others get their ill-fated start in life in rural areas. Unless they are rescued, most of these kittens will suffer and die young after being hit by a car, getting attacked by predators or cruel people, succumbing to weather extremes, contracting deadly diseases or suffering some other cruel fate. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 75 percent of free-roaming kittens disappear or die before they are 6 months old. The 25 percent who manage to survive to this age will likely have litters of their own, creating even more kittens with nowhere to go.
 
Some lucky kittens end up in animal shelters, but often this means that older cats who have been there for a while must be euthanized in order to make room for the newcomers. Limited-admission shelters avoid this scenario only by turning animals away when they reach capacity, leaving it to open-admission shelters to accommodate the overwhelming influx.
 
Neonatal kittens who come in without mothers must be bottle-fed around the clock—a demanding task that most shelters can’t manage without help from volunteers. Some shelters hold training sessions for foster families who take kittens home and care for them until they can be adopted. Others even throw “kitten showers” to stock up on kitten milk replacer, cat litter and other necessities. But the most important thing any of us can do to alleviate kitten season is to prevent more kittens from being born in the first place by making sure that our own cats—and the cats of our friends, family members and neighbors—are spayed or neutered.
 
Putting off spaying and neutering can result in “oops” litters: Kittens can become mothers themselves when they’re as young as 4 months of age. And even if they are kept indoors (as all cats should be, to protect them from the many dangers that lurk outside), their raging hormones can compel even the most docile among them to bolt through an unattended doorway in search of a mate.
 
One unspayed female cat and her offspring can lead to a staggering 370,000 kittens in just seven years. Guardians of male cats aren’t off the hook, either: Males can become fathers at just 5 months of age, and one male can impregnate countless females.
 
Many communities operate low-cost or free spay/neuter clinics that make it easy to do the right thing. Having cats “fixed” also has many health benefits: It eliminates females’ risk of uterine cancer and greatly reduces their risk of mammary cancer, and it prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer in males. Sterilized cats are also much less likely to roam, fight or spray.
 
So this spring,  let’s make sure that every cat is spayed or neutered before those May flowers start blooming—and snip kitten season in the bud.

Elegy for Mollie

By Edith Morgan

She passed away quietly, after a shudder, several raspy breaths, and a faint “meow.” And so Mollie, my cat of more than 10 years, gave up the last of her nine lives, cradled in our arms and kept warm and stroked for several hours.

I have always been “a cat person.” Working full-time teaching, caring for a house, and mothering numerous foster children, I could not realistically care for a dog who would have needed daily walks. So cats always seemed the perfect companions for us.

I never went out looking for a cat – they always seemed to come to me; usually it was someone who had had to move to a new place that did not allow pets. Once I received two stunningly beautiful pure Persians, who came to me in a duffle bag, cuddled up together and zipped up, for the trip from Manhattan to Worcester. They seemed to be very comfortable in their new home with me, and spent most of their waking time arranging themselves and posing at the head of the stairs. They spent several happy years here, but as they were already older, I did not have them too long.

So I have over the last few decades been home to Siamese, long-haired orange cats, alley cats, and strays of various hues and dispositions – some sleek, some more rotund (like the one the kids called “fat cat”).

But the one that was with us the longest was Mollie. We did not name her – I would have hoped for a more interesting or unusual name, but we stayed with the name she had when she arrived here, in the company of a long-haired orange cat – who was a hunter and outdoor roamer. But right from the start, Mollie was an indoor cat – and definitely NOT a hunter. She spent the first two or three years here confined to my niece’s bedroom, out of the mainstream.

But when my niece moved out, Mollie suddenly found herself with the run of the whole house: three floors, a basement, and several adults who could pick her up, pet her, speak to her and provide lap space whenever she wanted it.

It took a long time for Mollie to warm up to other people: having spent so much time with just one person, she had to have time to get used to the stream of visitors to her world. But she eventually started to come down and “mix” and even selected her special visitors who were to be graced by her deigning to sit in their laps and allow them to per her.

There was not a question in our minds as to who owned the house: Mollie’s attitude was always that it was hers, and she allowed us to stay there, feed her, clean out her kitty litter box, and tend to her needs as she made them known to us.

This past year she developed an exploratory yen: she found her way into the space between the bathroom ceiling on the second floor and the kitchen ceiling on the first floor and spent several days in that space, refusing to come out. After we finally coaxed her out of there, didn’t she do it again TWICE!!! She also sniffed out where our kitchen mouse used to run across the floor, but of course it was below her dignity to chase it.

Mollie loved to sit on our shoulders when we watched TV or perched on my neck when I was reading. She always knew where I was trying to read the paper and plunked herself right down on that page. But she always rewarded our efforts with purring loudly and steadily!

We will sorely miss her – she was really a family member, independent and full of surprises.

Sleep in peace, Mollie.

I visited Sweet Pea animal shelter in Paxton a few weeks ago …

Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella

… after the fire; after the horrible fatalities (nearly 50 dogs and cats perished in the flames); after the TV news trucks, their satellite dishes and anorexic girl reporters shoved off; after the ignorant comments that went like this had passed: Well, the animals didn’t suffer too much – it was the carbon monoxide that killed them, not the flames; after all the noise and media whores faded away. … I drove up with a friend and found owner Melanie still shaken but quietly tenacious – totally focused on regrouping and reopening her beloved animal shelter.
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Melanie’s kennels and shelter space, based on the mini-tour she gave me after the fire, did seem a bit antiquated, but this dog lover felt that IN NO WAY were her dogs crammed in cages. The kennels seemed fine – not shoddily built; there was a play area, there were runs, there was a quarantine building with kennels, there was a heating system, a washer and dryer for dog bedding, a place to wash the dogs.

Melanie had a lot  to contend with when she bought the place: first, it was built in the 1970s – the kennels, building, electrical work were old, just plain old. But probably fine for the time they were built. Melanie doesn’t have a ton of dough so gave it her all –  100% –  to make the shelter she had WORK.

And it did!

Everyone says she DEFINITELY RAN A TRUE NO KILL SHELTER. She took the dogs and cats no one wanted, kept them and loved them and PLACED THEM in loving homes. She told me she even housed feral cats, taming them down – it takes a few years – and then placing them in forever homes! As someone who had cared for two feral cat colonies in Worcester’s inner city  for 10 YEARS, I know how challenging taming down a feral cat can be and thought WOW! This lady is GOOD!

Melanie welcomed ALL to her shelter, the place  was open to every person in the community – no snobby attitude at Sweet Pea! She had 100 volunteers walking the dogs, helping with donations. Her animal shelter hid nothing, had nothing to hide, was accessible – a fun place to volunteer. On any given day you could visit Sweet Pea and see volunteers walking the dogs, a stretch of woods making a lovely backdrop. Sweet Pea is definitely in the country – a tonic for abandoned dogs, critters who are hurtin’!

There is so much to be done now!
So much rebuilding before this single working women can reopen her animal shelter, her not so small biz!
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Melanie  needs our help! The Town of Paxton has now come up with a set of standards for all kennels in town: kennel dimensions, the kind of materials that need to go into kennel floors, the kinds of walls that need to go between kennels, lengths of runs, sprinkler systems, etc. THIS IS A GOOD THING. FOR THE DOGS AND CATS and PEOPLE! These new regulations will help ensure that a fire – or other calamity-  will not wreak havoc in places where helpless animals are locked up – are unable to flee the flames, the flooding, etc. Can you imagine the FEAR, THE OUTRIGHT PANIC the Sweet Pea dogs and cats felt as they gnawed or pawed away at their cages to free themselves from FIRE … HELL? Horrific.

We will always remember them…WE MUST NEVER FORGET!
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But it’s time for Melanie to rebuild, take Paxton’s blueprint for animal SAFETY and success and make it REAL!

Please CLICK HERE and make a donation to the SWEET PEA GoFundMe or PayPal accounts!

Learn about Sweet Pea and the wonderful work that Melanie and her volunteers have done!

Make Sweet Pea come alive with dogs and cats and all critters great and small once again!

THANK YOU!

5 holiday pet hazards you never thought about

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Lilac says: Mommy, let’s play! FOREVER!

You’ve probably heard the standard advice about keeping your pets safe during the holidays: Don’t let dogs gnaw on turkey bones, make sure cats don’t swallow tinsel.

But veterinarians see a slew of other holiday emergencies you may never have considered. Here are just a few:

Christmas lights:

A string of Christmas lights may not sound dangerous, but every year veterinarians treat dogs and cats with electrical burns on their mouths. The reason? Some pets, especially cats and puppies, just love to chew those power cords.
A jingle bell toy. Buy a big package of cat toys and you’re likely to get a small plastic ball with jingle bells inside it. When is this dangerous? When your dog decides it’s a delectable treat and swallows it.

Xylitol:

If you give your dog some fatty human food, vomiting and diarrhea may result. But low-calorie food could hurt dogs even more – and possibly kill them  –  if it includes the artificial sweetener xylitol. The substance is highly toxic to dogs. It shows up in gum, sugar-free candies and baked goods  –  even in a few types of specialty peanut butters. Check labels to avoid the danger.

The ribbons on your presents:

Ribbons can cause big problems when dogs or cats ingest them, especially if they travel all the way into the intestines.

Grandma’s purse:

Or anyone else’s! Especially if they leave it on the floor where your inquisitive pet may stick a nose inside it and wind up eating something dangerous like a bottle of medicine.

Don’t let Halloween be a scary time for pets!

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Chef Joey sent us this cute pic of his friend’s dog modeling her Halloween costume!

Halloween is a fun and festive night for families, but it can be downright dangerous for pets.

During the week of Halloween, the Pet Poison Helpline reports a 12 percent increase in calls, making it the call center’s  busiest time of year.

In addition, Halloween is the second most common holiday for dogs to go missing, just behind Fourth of July.

Prevention is the best way to avoid an emergency. By using caution, you can ensure a safe and happy Halloween for pets.

Use these tips to keep them safe this Halloween:

Don’t share your treats with your dog or cat! You probably know that chocolate and raisins are toxic to pets, but so is xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free candies and gum.

Be sure to properly dispose of candy wrappers. If ingested, these can cause life-threatening obstructions to the intestinal tract, which may require surgery.

Keep a close eye on pets for vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy – all signs they have eaten something dangerous.

Consider keeping dogs or cats confined in a quiet room on Halloween night. This will shield them from the noise and the frenzy of trick-or-treaters and prevent them from bolting out the door.

Make sure all pets have proper identification, including an up-to-date ID tag and microchip, which will help your chances of reuniting should they go missing.

If you decide to dress up your pet for Halloween, choose a costume that is loose-fitting, comfortable and doesn’t cover the eyes, ears or nose, which could cause anxiety.

Keep pets away from glow sticks. Cats especially have an affinity for chewing and puncturing these products. While not life-threatening, the liquid in glow sticks can cause pain, irritation and excessive salivation.

Keep your cat indoors on Halloween! … and all year round!

By Alisa Mullins
 
When my mom was a little girl, she had a favorite black cat named Midnight. He was one of more than a dozen former strays who had wandered into the family’s life, drawn by the abundance of cat food that was always set out on the front porch. Occasionally, one of the cats would mysteriously disappear, and my mom and her sister would comfort themselves with the unlikely scenario that the cat had “run away.”
 
But when Mom’s favorite, Midnight, went missing on Halloween, she knew in her bones that something terrible had happened to him. She searched for him for days, but it was no use—he was already dead. She finally found his body under the front porch. He had been tortured—probably by neighborhood boys up to “mischief”—and had dragged himself home to die. My mom learned a valuable lesson that day, and when she grew up, the handsome brown tabby our family adopted was kept indoors at all times.
 
Nowadays, most guardians know to keep their cats—especially black ones—inside on Halloween. Many animal shelters refuse to allow the adoption of black cats in the days preceding it, for fear that cruel people would acquire them with the intent to do them harm.
 
But the danger doesn’t pass once the last Twizzler has been handed out to the last Elsa or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
 
Cats who are allowed to roam outside unattended are in danger every day of the year. The threats range from speeding cars and spilled antifreeze to stray dogs and cruel people who don’t like cats digging in their gardens or sitting on their cars. Recently, a Mississippi woman posted a photo on her Facebook page of a cat she had allegedly burned, threatening to “burn them one by one if I have to.”
 
Even in this day and age, there are people who think killing cats is “fun.” They brag and even laugh about it. They use cats for target practice, shooting at free-roaming cats as if they were clay pigeons rather than living, feeling beings. Just a few recent cases include cats who were shot with guns or crossbows in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. A cat in Massachusetts who was shot with a steel broadhead arrow (designed to inflict the maximum damage) was so badly injured that he had to be euthanized. He was just a year old.
 
In fact, the average lifespan of a cat who goes outside is just 2 to 5 years, a fraction of the 14-year average lifespan of an indoor cat.
 
Today’s concrete jungles are far too dangerous for such vulnerable little beings. Don’t learn a tragic lesson at your cat’s expense: Keep your cat indoors where it’s safe—on Halloween and every other day of the year.

Pets and summertime

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Deb and her little Juno are ready for summer!

Check your dogs for ticks! They can get Lyme disease, too!

It’s the height of tick season, which means people should take extra care to prevent the spread of Lyme disease – not just to people, but also to their dogs.

Lyme disease, as well as another tick-borne ailment called anaplasmosis, can be just as harmful to dogs as to humans. Symptoms can include fever, joint pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, neurologic disorders and difficulty walking. Lyme disease may also cause kidney damage and can be fatal if left untreated.

Dog owners should be especially watchful if their pets become feverish or start to limp, especially if they limp on different legs at different times. A dog with those symptoms should be taken to the family veterinarian or to an emergency veterinarian.

Any dog who has fever and is limping should be evaluated.

One of the best things dog owners can do is to give their dogs anti-tick medicine, not just in the summer but year-round. The medicines are available over the counter and from veterinarians.

It’s probably not realistic to keep dogs inside throughout tick season. Dogs will be dogs, they love hiking, they love the woods. So after dogs go outside, make sure to check them carefully for ticks.

Here are some more tips for making sure dogs are protected:

Talk with your family veterinarian about vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease.

Talk with your veterinarian about the best way to prevent fleas and ticks from latching on to your pet.

Your veterinarian may suggest an oral medication so that your pet is simply given a pill once a month. Or the vet may encourage spot-on medications, medicated shampoos, powders or tick collars.

Consider having your yard and home treated for ticks.

Inspect your dogs for ticks if they have been outside near wooded areas.

If you find a tick, take tweezers and remove the tick as close to the body of the pet as possible, trying to get the head of the tick out.

Watch your pet carefully over time and look out for any changes in behavior.
If your pet is not acting right, take him or her to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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Traveling with pets 

Travel can be stressful for both pets and people. These tips will make your trip a more enjoyable experience for everyone, whether they have two legs or four:

Never leave your pet unattended in a car, even with the windows cracked. If it’s 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can rocket to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always make sure you have plenty of your pet’s medication packed. Take extra to be on the safe side.

Pack a first aid kit for your pet: tweezers to remove ticks, bandaging material for any cuts, hydrogen peroxide, etc.

If your pets have any ongoing medical conditions, take a copy of their medical records with you.

Identify the nearest animal emergency hospital to where you are staying and have the phone number handy.

Make sure your pet’s heartworm and flea prevention medications are current.

Don’t feed a large meal before leaving; simply allow periodic snacking.

Carry collapsible bowls for food and water.

Make sure that dog tags are clearly visible because people are more likely to catch pets if they can return them to the owner. Having your pet get a microchip for identification is a good step, too.

If your pet has implants (e.g. plates or screws from orthopedic surgery), and he or she will be flying, you should bring a note from your veterinarian.

When flying, be sure to have wheels for your carrier. Even a 10-pound animal can get heavy when carried in a shoulder carrier walking through a long airport terminal.

If your dog is one of the 17 percent who get sick when traveling, ask your veterinarian about an anti-vomiting medication. Dogs get motion sickness either because they are anxious while traveling or because their balance is affected by movement.

Special considerations for kitty:

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Rosalie’s April on Independence Day!

Cats can be particularly sensitive to traveling. Here are tips for keeping your cat calm:

Try placing some catnip in the carrier 30 minutes before your trip; this may have a calming effect.

Don’t use tranquilizers or sedatives in cats for travel due to potential complications such as hypotension or paradoxical hyper-excitability.

Always keep your cat confined in a carrier while traveling. A frightened feline can easily escape through an open car window or door without anyone noticing.

Be sure to carry some moistened and dry paper towels and plastic bags for potential carrier accidents.

Have a safe and fun summer with your companion animal!

Don’t let the Fourth of July be a dangerous day for pets!

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Patriotic Pup #2. Jett!!!!! July 1, 2015

The July 4 holiday can be thrilling for humans, but it’s actually a dangerous time for pets — and one of the busiest days of the year in animal emergency hospitals.

Exploding firecrackers can be just as hazardous for pets as for humans, but that’s not where the danger ends. The loud noise, and even the food and family gatherings, all pose hazards to dogs, cats, birds and other pets.

It’s common for emergency animal hospitals to see 25 percent or more patients than normal on Independence Day.

The noise of fireworks – including that string of firecrackers set off by your neighbor– sometimes causes panic in pets. Scared dogs have been known to charge into glass doors or bolt outside into traffic.

Outdoor grilling is a must for many people, but some human food that gets spilled to the ground or pilfered from an unwatched picnic table can make animals sick. Foods that can upset your pet’s digestive tract include onions, garlic, avocados, grapes, raisins and chocolate.

And staying out in the sun can cause heatstroke — not just for people, but also for fur-covered members of the family.

Fortunately, a little planning and care can help your pets stay safe and comfortable as you enjoy the festivities.

Here are a few tips:

During fireworks, make sure your dogs or cats are in safe, indoor places where they cannot escape or get hurt. Turn on music or television for comforting background noise. You also can play a game with them or give them a favorite toy.

If your pets are especially nervous about fireworks you may want to buy a specially designed, snug-fitting jacket which comforts dogs by applying pressure around their bodies.

After the family barbecue, don’t treat your dogs to leftover bones from steak, ribs, chicken or other human food. The bones often splinter and may become a choking hazard.

The safest policy is to avoid giving human food to pets because so much of it can be harmful to them. If you want your pets to celebrate along with you, buy them a few extra pet treats while stocking up on your own groceries.

Don’t let your pets stay outside in the heat for long periods of time, especially if they’re not used to it. If pets do get overheated, spray them down with water that is cool or room temperature – but never ice water, which causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin and makes things even worse.

Remember, regular visits to your family veterinarian are the best way to keep your pets healthy.  But if an accident does occur over the holidays, don’t hesitate to bring your pet to an emergency veterinarian right away.

Rosalie’s kitty, April, has diabetes. Does your companion animal have this “tricky” disease? Know the symptoms!

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Rosalie figured April might have diabetes when she saw April’s cat litter boxed SOAKED with urine.
Rose took April to the veterinarian’s; the vet did a”senior panel” on the 13 1/2 year old cat (blood work) and determined that April’s glucose level was high. Now on insulin 2x daily, April is her old self! Affectionate, strong willed …
Thank goodness for Wal-Mart – the syringes and insulin (for humans – cats can metabolize their food with human insulin) they sell at their pharmacy is so INEXPENSIVE! A third of what you’d pay at the vet’s! If your pet has the disease and money’s an issue, ask your vet for a prescription and head to the Wal-Mart pharmacy! It’s right in the store! Fast and easy! The pharmacists are helpful and empathetic!         -R.T.
FROM PETA.ORG:

Could Your Cat or Dog Have Diabetes?

Written by Danny Prater | June 18, 2015

I have been living with type 1 diabetes since I was 13 years old. The last time I visited my home state, Ohio (GO BUCKS), I had a chance to meet the only other member of

Just like humans, dogs and cats can also have diabetes. From personal experience, I know that it can be a tough disease, sometimes tricky to manage. This really got me to thinking about what it must be like for a cat or dog living with diabetes. Without any way to tell us directly how they are feeling, companion animals rely on their human guardians to notice when something is off.

But what does diabetes “look” like? While it’s true that you can’t see it, you can certainly see the symptoms if you pay attention to your cat or dog.

Change in Appetite

Baxter the Chihuahua Dog Eating a Treat

Is your dog suddenly eating much more than before? Is your cat leaving a lot of food untouched? An increased or decreased appetite may be a sign of not feeling well.

Weight Loss

When the body is deprived of insulin, which is needed to carry blood sugar to the cells for energy, it will begin burning fat. If your four-legged friend begins rapidly losing weight, especially if coupled with other symptoms on this list, you should schedule a vet appointment ASAP.

Here’s an easy way to tell that something may be amiss: Your animal is eating more than before but still losing weight.

Frequent Urination

For cats, this may take the form of urinating outside the litterbox or frequent urinary tract infections; for dogs, you may notice a sudden jump in requests to go outside. This is because some of the toxins that build up when blood sugar levels go unmanaged are expelled through the urine. Your animal’s body is saying something here—make sure you listen!

Excessive Thirst

This one is actually how I first realized that something was wrong with me. Because of the increase in urination, your dog or cat will be excessively thirsty, attempting to replace those lost fluids. These two symptoms, excessive thirst and urination, will likely go together, so pay attention.

Note: When cats and dogs continue this cycle of frequent urination and excessive thirst, they can become dehydrated. How do you know if a thirsty animal is dehydrated? One quick way to check is by gently pinching up some of the skin and fur on the back and then letting it fall back into place. A well-hydrated animal’s skin will quickly snap back, while a dehydrated animal’s skin will slowly collapse back down.

Sweet-Smelling Breath

When a body deprived of insulin begins burning its own fat stores to supply energy, compounds called ketones are released into the blood stream. Acetone, a type of ketone, is typically expelled from the body through the breath, which will smell unusually fruity or sweet (in stark contrast to most dog and cat foods), so this is an easy way to tell if something is wrong the next time you’re snuggling.

Lethargy

Amsterdam the Dog sleepy© Sean Noronha

When too many ketones enter the bloodstream, the body itself can become acidic. Trust me when I tell you, this feels awful. If your animal companion can’t keep his or her head up for more than a few minutes or has experienced a sudden decrease in energy levels, be sure to get to your vet as soon as possible!

Vomiting

Just like with the toxins pushed out through the breath and urine, this is one of the body’s ways of telling you that it wants something that is currently inside it OUT.

Unkempt Coat/Chronic Skin Infections

Is your cat’s coat losing its shine? You may even notice flakes of dried skin. Has your dog been diagnosed with multiple skin infections? These are signs that your kitty or pooch may be suffering from untreated diabetes.

Cataract Formation/Change in Vision

Extended periods of elevated blood glucose levels can lead to the development of cataracts and, just like in humans, blindness. It’s important to get your animal checked out before symptoms progress too far.


NOW, LISTEN: 
I’m not a doctor, for humans or for animals. If you suspect something is off with your best (non-human) friend after reading this, consult a professional! Always keep an eye—and a hand—on your companion animals. They rely on you to know when something is wrong, so you have to be sure that you know what “normal” looks and feels like for them. Because animals typically consume significantly fewer sugars and carbs than humans do, the signs of untreated diabetes may build up slowly over time. Your veterinarian can perform necessary blood tests to find out what’s going on and get you all set up to take proper care of your cat or dog if diabetes turns out to be an issue.