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My veterinarian mentioned running some other tests/procedures? What would those be for?

(Diabetes Series – Part 7)

Author: Kathy Raepple

Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic testing depending on how your cat has been responding to the insulin injections.  There are several different tests that may be recommended and for several different reasons:

Urinalysis with Urine Culture

This test is done to determine if your cat has any bacteria building up in his bladder.  Bacteria loves sugar and all diabetics, human and animal, will have some sugar spill over into their bladder at some time or another which can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Signs of a potential UTI:

  • Inappropriate Urinations (going outside the box)
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Straining/difficulty urinating (this could be a sign of a bigger, more serious problem and would require more immediate veterinary attention)
  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • Blood seen in the urine

Most times it is hard to determine if your cat has a UTI so periodic urinalysis & culturing would be recommended to be sure something isn’t being missed.  Generally, your veterinary team will obtain a sterile urine sample from your cat on one of his visits to the clinic.  This sample will be sent off to an external lab for testing and most results are received within about 1 week.

If your cat does have a UTI, it can interfere with his glucose levels and insulin absorption so periodic testing is always a great idea.  If a UTI is found, your cat will likely need an antibiotic to fight off the infection.  During this time, it may be difficult to keep your cat’s glucose level maintained.

Fructosamine Levels

Your veterinarian may discuss doing a fructosamine level on your cat at certain intervals.  This test helps to monitor glucose control over a period of time (usually the previous 1 – 2 week period).  Fructosamine testing is also recommended when it is not possible to do a glucose curve (either due to the owners work schedule or the temperament of your cat).  The fructosamine reading will help determine an overall average of glucose control for your cat.

Your veterinarian will also likely recommend periodic blood panel testing as well as routine urine testing as part of your diabetic cat’s basic health check ups.  Most diabetic cats should see their veterinarian at least every 6 months or so once they are regulated.

If you notice any signs of illness or have any concerns, then he should be seen sooner than his regularly scheduled check up.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound, as many people are probably aware, allows your veterinarian to get a look inside your cat without having to perform a surgical procedure.  Ultrasonography is used to look at the internal organs like the pancreas to assess if there are any signs of pancreatitis or cancer.  The other organs in the abdomen will also be checked to be sure they are all healthy looking and to assess if there are any other underlying causes for the diabetes or poor insulin control.

The 2 main reasons for your veterinarian to recommend an ultrasound:

  • Check for tumor and assess if it can be removed surgically
  • Check internal abdominal organs to assess prognosis (especially if surgery is not an option)

Generally, ultrasounds will be performed while your pet is awake.  Most pets do not resist the ultrasound procedure, but more that they have to lay still on their back for a length of time.

Sometimes your veterinarian may be able to see what they needs to see in order to give you a definitive diagnosis while other times it may be recommended that the ultrasound images be sent to a specialist for interpretation.

Dentistry

Dental evaluations and dental prophies are highly recommended for every diabetic patient.  Dental disease or infection is found in almost every cat over 1 year of age.  If a dental infection is present, this infection can spread to your cat’s heart, lungs and other organs causing widespread problems.  Dental infections could also cause your cat to suffer DKA (see above) which could make insulin resistance possible.  Your veterinarian will likely recommend a dental exam, at minimum, with your cats yearly check up, but a dental prophy (cleaning) may be required more often with your diabetic cat than your non-diabetic cat.

A dental prophy (cleaning) for your cat is not unlike going to the dentist yourself.  Your cat will require a general anesthetic for this procedure so bloodwork and intravenous (IV) fluids would be needed.  The prophy itself consists of a complete mouth check.  Your veterinary team will check your cat’s mouth for any signs of disease, infection or other dental problems (ie, tumors, misaligned teeth, fractured teeth, etc).

For more information on dentistry, see “Maxie’s Big Day” blog – complete with photos & videos.

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