Merck Animal Health is launching a global awareness campaign to help educate pet owners about diabetes, which affects millions of animals.
November is National Diabetes Month but we often forget, however, that diabetes also impacts our four-legged companions, according to Merck, which makes a product called Vetsulin, the pet equivalent of insulin.
In the United States, the prevalence of diabetes has increased by nearly 80% in dogs and by almost 20% in cats over the past decade, and those numbers are expected to continue to rise.
The awareness campaign is themed “Face the Facts.” As part of the campaign, Merck Animal Health is employing an illustrative new cat and dog duo who have diabetes, Sugar and Spike, to help deliver important facts, tips and advice that pet owners can use, in conjunction with guidance from a veterinarian, to help them take control of their pets' diabetes. The advertising agency behind the creation of Sugar and Spike is Stein IAS
The effort includes the introduction of new tools such as the Sugar and Spike “Face the Facts” card game, education on risk factors associated with pet diabetes and information on disease management, which may include a prescribed diet, exercise, glucose monitoring and an insulin injection routine, depending on each pet's needs. Merck has created a microsite for the effort.
Dr. Courtney Campbell, the surgical department head of CARE Emergency and Specialty Animal Hospital, and a daytime talk show veterinary contributor, is the national spokesperson for the campaign.
"I strongly recommend that pet parents learn the clinical signs of diabetes so that they can recognize if they should get their pet tested by a veterinarian," Campbell said in a release. ”If diagnosed, it is important for pet owners to know it is not a fatal diagnosis when properly managed. Working with your veterinarian and educating oneself on how to care for an animal with diabetes are the keys to helping our pets live a healthy and happy life."
Early detection is a critical factor in preventing serious health issues that can result from diabetes. If owners notice excessive thirst, frequent urination and increased hunger while losing weight, they should seek the advice of their veterinarian.
While the cause of diabetes is largely unknown, risk factors that may contribute to the development of diabetes include age (middle-aged to older dogs and cats are more susceptible), genetics, breed and obesity. With proper management and veterinary care, diabetic dogs and cats can live long and healthy lives.