Going to your pet’s doctor appointments should not feel like going to medical school. The language used needs to be able to be understood by anyone taking care of your animal.

With that in mind, I have tried to make some of the more common terms you have heard in the past or will hear in the future easier to understand.

  1. Blood glucose: Glucose simply means sugar. It is the carbohydrate that our bodies use for energy.
  2. Hyperglycemia: Hyperglycemia is an elevated blood glucose. Signs include excessive thirst and urination.
  3. Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia is a low blood glucose. Signs may include acting dizzy or blind or confused. Severe hypoglycemia can result in seizures or coma.
  4. Insulin: Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. When we eat, insulin facilitates the uptake of the energy in food (glucose) into our cells.
  5. Blood glucose curve: A blood glucose curve is a series of blood glucose tests. The first is taken just before a dose of insulin is given and then periodically throughout the day until the next insulin dose is given. Typically the blood glucose is checked every 2 hours. A blood glucose curve is used to evaluate the insulin dose.
  6. Fructosamine: This is a blood test that reflects a pet’s blood glucose levels over the prior 2 to 3 weeks. An elevated fructosamine level indicates that the blood glucose has been elevated over recent weeks. This test is often used in very anxious cats when home glucose curves are not feasible. It is a test used in addition to blood glucose levels.
  7. Carbohydrate: A carbohydrate is a source of energy, usually from a plant, in the form of starch or sugar.
  8. Ketoacidosis: This is a dangerous condition that results from unregulated diabetes. If unable to utilize insulin, the body may use alternate routes of metabolism that result in ketone formation. Ketosis results in dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, nausea, acidemia, and potentially death.
  9. PU/PD: Polyuria (PU) means a pet is urinating large volumes. Polydipsia (PD) means excessive thirst. Diabetic pets are often PU/PD until their blood glucose levels are regulated with insulin and appropriate care. Elevated blood glucose levels overwhelm the kidneys’ ability to retain water and the pet urinates frequently and subsequently drinks excessively.
  10. Somogyi swing: If a blood glucose level drops too low after a dose of insulin, the body may remedy the hypoglycemia by releasing hormones that act on the liver to release stored glycogen in the form of glucose, resulting in a hyperglycemia.
  11. UTI or urinary tract infection: A urinary tract infection is inflammation and bacteria in the bladder. UTIs are not uncommon in diabetic pets because any sugar in the urine makes for a lovely growth medium for bacteria. Signs of a urinary tract infection are straining to urinate and urinating small frequent amounts. These are typically painful urinations.

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian to confirm that my recommendations are applicable for the health needs of your pet.