Q: I have diabetes, so I check my blood sugar daily, and my physician periodically tests the A1c levels in my blood. My cat also has diabetes, so I test his blood sugar at home. Why doesn’t my veterinarian check my cat’s A1c?
A: When veterinarians evaluate whether a cat’s diabetes is well controlled, they take into account many factors: weight, appetite, energy level, and whether the cat is drinking and urinating normally or excessively.
In addition, veterinarians and pet parents like you periodically test the diabetic cat’s blood sugar multiple times over the course of a day to be sure blood sugar levels don’t drop too low or rise too high.
Since pets’ blood sugar levels can vary from day to day, veterinarians also test the blood for fructosamine, which indicates average blood sugar over the previous two to three weeks.
The A1c and fructosamine tests are similar, except that the A1c test measures average blood sugar levels over the previous two to three months. This test only recently became available for pets, and most veterinarians haven’t decided yet whether the longer time frame offers any advantage in understanding how well the pet’s diabetes is controlled.
Editor’s Note: A newly diagnosed dog with diabetes may require daily insulin. Veterinarian Dr. Lee shares information on insulin-dependent diabetes with a concerned pet parent.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.