Cheers to a new year and another chance to focus on your pet’s health!

Did you know…A gain of 2 pounds in a 20 pound dog is equal to a gain of 15-20 pounds in the average adult?

Picture2If your pet indulged a little too much over the holidays, a New Year’s Resolution to eat right and shed some weight might be just the thing he or she needs. These simple rules will help your pet start the year off in the right direction:

Calories In, Calories Out: Dogs and cats are no different than people – if they eat too much and aren’t active enough, they’re going to gain weight.

 Quality, Not Quantity: A good quality pet food will provide all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep your pet healthy. Your veterinarian can advise on how much to feed to obtain your pet’s optimal body weight.

Know Your Pet’s Lifestage: Puppies and kittens need more calories than adult pets to help them grow. Most senior pets need higher levels of fiber and fewer calories. Just like all pets are unique, all diets are not built the same.

Diet Impacts Overall Health: The right diet can help alleviate and treat skin problems, gingivitis, and scores of other medical issues.

 What is your New Year’s resolution for your furry companion going to be this year?

Don’t let your pet get wrapped up in the holiday celebration!

As we celebrate the holiday season, we’d like to make sure that our furry friends don’t get wrapped up in some of the decorations or festive treats that may be hazardous to their health. Mary Jean Calvi, LVT, from Pawling Animal Clinic in PawliView More: http://hailiejayphotography.pass.us/ebah2013ng, NY alerts us to some of the dangers that may be lurking around the house to ensure your pets can enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

Resist the Fancy Feastings
As a part of our family, most of us try to share our holidays with our pets. But as difficult as it may be, try and resist the urge to indulge your pet in the rich foods of the season. Gastrointestinal upsets which can actually lead to more serious conditions such as pancreatitis are common complaints we see this time of year. Pets are not people and will do much better on a quality pet food diet!

Did you know that ingesting several ounces of chocolate can kill a small dog? Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are even more toxic. Make sure to keep all chocolate far out of reach of pets.

Deck the Halls
While decorative plants adorn many homes at this time of year, be aware that many ornamental plants of the season can be toxic to pets. Mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, and lilies are just a few. Symptoms can range from mild gastrointestinal upset, nausea and vomiting to kidney failure. When decorating with plants, remember to restrict animal access.

Oh Christmas Tree …
A veritable wonderland for animals, especially cats. But dangers abound! Water from your tree may contain fertilizers that can upset your pet’s stomach. Ribbons, tinsel, and string can easily become lodged in intestines and cause obstructions. Glass or other ornaments, if ingested, can cause internal lacerations. Close proximity to candles can singe hair quickly … or cause fires if accidently knocked over.

Dangers also lurk under the tree. Electric cords are potential electrocution risks. Small toys can cause obstructions and batteries contain corrosives that can cause ulcerations to the mouth, tongue and GI tract.

The Weather Outside is Frightful …
Adequate shelter from the elements should always be available for your outdoor pets. And don’t forget … water bowls left outside WILL freeze!

Outdoor cats will often seek the warmth from a car engine and climb right up under the hood. To avert any CATastrophes, bang on the hood or honk the car horn before starting your vehicle to warn any unsuspecting cat time to flee!

Winter Wonderland
Ice melting products, depending on the active ingredient, can be irritating to pet’s skin, pads and mouth. Restrict your pets’ access to areas where these products have been applied or make sure they wear their rubber booties too!

Antifreeze is sweet to the taste but did you know that one teaspoon can be lethal to a cat (4 teaspoons to a 10 pound dog!). Thoroughly clean up all spills and store antifreeze in tightly closed containers.

Not a Creature Was Stirring ….
Except for the mice! Ingested rat and mouse bait can cause serious clotting disorders. When using these products be sure to place them in areas totally inaccessible to pets. Always keep the product information should a problem arise. In an emergency, it is helpful to know which active ingredient was involved.

 

Osteoarthritis signs and treatment

Bassettdog_jpg_jpg“My dog seems to be getting up and moving slower since the weather change. What should I do?”

The most common reason for an increase in lameness or stiffness secondary to changes in the weather is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of joint cartilage and the inflammation associated with this damage. It can be limited to one joint or can affect multiple joints of the body. It is most commonly seen in middle age to older patients, and it can be a result of previous injury, genetic predisposition, conformational stresses, obesity, or excessive wear and tear from overuse. According to Parrish Tanner, DVM, at Quail Hollow Animal Hospital in Wesley Chapel, FL, the typical symptoms of arthritis include difficulty standing up or sitting, stiffness after laying down that improves with activity, and worsening symptoms with weather changes especially rain and cold. Osteoarthritis is seen often in all breeds of cats and dogs.

The first step for any patient displaying symptoms consistent with osteoarthritis is to evaluate their body condition/weight. The vast majority of dogs with symptoms of arthritis are heavier than their ideal body weight. If your dog is overweight, weight reduction through reducing food intake and moderate consistent low impact exercise (fast paced walks, swimming, etc.) of 30-60 minutes a day can have a profound positive effect. Even if a patient is not overweight, moderate exercise is almost always beneficial because it helps maintain or even build muscle mass.  This helps to support the damaged joints, reduces pain in the joint, and improves a patient’s range of motion. It is important to note that osteoarthritis and its symptoms are usually slowly progressive and lifelong, therefore, treatment and lifestyle changes to combat arthritis are life long as well.

Medical treatment for osteoarthritis usually comprises a multimodal approach. Treatment can include but not be limited to dietary changes, nutritional supplements, anti-inflammatory and pain medication, physical therapy, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, and occasionally surgical intervention. By treating arthritis in multiple ways, improvement of clinical symptoms is more greatly achieved while at the same time reducing side effects associated with high does of pain medication.

Dietary changes and nutritional supplements are often the first logical step to combat osteoarthritis. There are two prescription diets that have been shown in studies to help control symptoms of arthritis, and they also help in achieving an ideal body weight through calorie restriction. Supplementing the diet with omega 3 fatty acids and glucosamine/chondroitin can also have a very positive effect on patients that are suffering with arthritis.

If lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and nutritional supplements are not controlling the symptoms of arthritis then medication and other therapies would be indicated. The most commonly used medications for arthritis are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs can have a significant effect on the inflammation and pain of arthritis, but it is important to understand that there potential side effects associated with these medications and all other medications used for arthritis. Consistent monitoring, examinations, and bloodwork are needed when patients are on any medication for arthritis.

As our pets age, the signs of osteoarthritis can become evident to us either gradually over time or sometimes very acutely. Dr. Tanner stresses the importance of contacting your veterinarian for an examination, if your dog has started to have difficulty with mobility. An exam is the first step in determining whether a patient is developing osteoarthritis or has other medical cause for immobility. If arthritis is the cause, we can begin tailoring therapy for your dog to hopefully give him/her the most pain free, happy life possible.

Thanksgiving safety tips

The holiday season is upon us and seems to always be packed full of family, friends and food, but with all of the celebration comes possible health concerns for our furry friends. Emergency visits to the veterinarian increase during the holidays and are usually due to pets having eaten something they shouldn’t have states St. Francis of Assisi Veterinary Medical Center Thanksgiving Safetyin San Antonio, TX. Below are some general tips to follow while enjoying the holidays with your pet this year:

  1. Make no bones about it. Meat bones can easily splinter and cause serious damage to your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Make sure you have properly disposed of all of the bones and that the garbage is kept out of reach from our curious companions.
  2. Avoid the fat. Too many fatty, seasoned, unfamiliar foods can lead to pancreatitis and gastroenteritis in your pet. Both of these medical conditions can be painful and even life-threatening. If you decide to give your pet a bite of turkey, make sure it is boneless, lean and well-cooked to avoid salmonella bacteria.
  3. Avoid the sweets, stick with treats. Consider all of the desserts prepared during the holidays, many of which contain chocolate and other toxic ingredients to our pets. Keep your pet’s noses out of the batter and focused on a treat of their own such as a made-for-pet chew bone or a Kong toy.
  4. Guard the garbage. Even if your pet isn’t one to snoop through the trash, the tasty smells of freshly cooked food can be very tempting, so make sure the garbage is properly tied up to avoid your pet reaching any dangerous items or making a mess of the festivities.
  5. Eat, drink, and be merry. With all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, make sure your pet has fresh water, food of their own and quiet time away from the excitement to ensure they aren’t overwhelmed by the festivities.

If you have any questions about keeping your pet comfortable during the holidays, contact your local veterinarian.

Why all the Feline Wellness Talk?

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Feline Wellness Exam

“Each veterinarian’s primary goal is to allow your pet to have the best quality of life feasible for as long as possible.”

As the practice of medicine, both human and veterinary, has evolved over time, physicians increasingly share a philosophy of promoting wellness. But what does wellness really mean? This mindset of wellness and prevention means that doctors are looking to provide care for their patients before the worst has already happened, and put into play supportive measures that can delay, if not completely prevent the onset of illness and disease, especially those related to aging and the environment states Bush Animal Hospital in Eugene, OR. Each veterinarian’s primary goal is to allow your pet to have the best quality of life feasible for as long as possible . The tools a veterinarian has available to achieve this can range from simple regular routine examinations and vaccinations to more complex nutritional and pharmaceutical support.  Wellness examinations do not necessarily mean that your pet is going to be subjected to a barrage of complicated medical tests and treatments.

Some animals may need close monitoring of blood work, x-rays or other tests or many pets benefit simply from being physically examined, having their heart and lungs listened to and their general health assessed. Thus preventing a health issue from developing undetected. A general health assessment before surgery can help prevent complications and assure a speedy recovery. Ask your veterinarian for guidance in developing a plan for your cats health care to give you as many years as possible with your cat companions.

The Scoop on Poop

A fecal examination is the microscopic evaluation of the feces that is used to identify the presence of intestinal parasites. Some of the parasites are worm-like, while others are simple single-celled organisms called protozoa. Fecal examinations are recommended on all animals as part of a yearly health exam. Fecal examinations are also recommended on all puppies and kittens. However, if a pet develops diarrhea of unknown cause, exhibits unexplained weight loss, or has a history of prior parasitic infections, additional fecal testing will often be recommended.

Why is this important and why should you care?

Most of these parasites are not visibly shed in the stool, though microscopic eggs can be found in otherwise normal looking feces. Some of these parasites are zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred from your pet to you or your family. Children are the most susceptible to zoonotic parasites since they tend to put things in their mouth and play in the dirt, where these parasites are found. These worms can cause abdominal pain, skin irritation, neurological problems and vision loss. Studies have shown that approximately 20% of children contract roundworms every year from their pets in the United States.

Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by one-celled organisms (protozoa) called coccidia.

Roundworms can be transmitted from pet to pet via infective eggs shed in the stool. Worms can sometimes be vomited up or seen in the feces and look like spaghetti. If a growing pet is infected with a large number of roundworms, they can stunt growth, cause serious digestive upsets and result in excessive gas formation. These pets have a characteristic ‘pot bellied’ appearance.

Tapeworms in pets cause few problems in adults, but can result in digestive upset and stunting of growth in puppies or kittens. Some tapeworms are zoonotic, meaning humans can be infected by the pet. Depending on the type of worm involved, a large number of worms can cause intestinal blockage.

Hookworms are one of the most pathogenic parasites of the dog. The hookworm is approximately 1/2 to 1” (1-2 cm) long and look like strings of spaghetti and attaches to the lining of the intestine. As a result of blood sucking, hookworms can cause severe and sometimes fatal anemia. In addition, the infective larvae can enter the host either by mouth or through the skin, particularly the feet. Eczema and secondary bacterial infection can result due to irritation as they burrow through the skin.

Giardia is a one-celled parasitic species classified as protozoa. Clinical signs can be continuous, or persistent with diarrhea and weight loss, while some animals show no signs. When the eggs (cysts) are found in the stool of a pet without diarrhea, they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding. However, in young animals and debilitated adult pets, they may cause severe, watery diarrhea that may be fatal.

Whipworms are intestinal parasites which are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) long and are usually not seen in the stool. They live in the cecum and colon of dogs where they cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs. This results in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. They are one of the most pathogenic worms found in dogs.

What should you do about it?

The doctors of Countryside Animal Hospital in Tempe, AZ recommend an annual fecal exam and a monthly parasite prevention (Heartgard Plus) to protect your pets and family from contracting any zoonotic parasites. Remove feces from your lawn, street or kennel daily. Exercise your pets in grassy areas not frequented by other animals. Prevent your pet from eating rodents such as mice, rats and rabbits. Control fleas.

Deployment with Urban Search and Rescue

In September 2013, Laura McLain Madsen, DVM of Holladay Veterinary Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT had an amazing experience deploying with FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) to the flooding in Colorado. She has been working with the search dogs and handlers for about six years, and then officially joined US&R Utah Task Force 1 in 2012 as team veterinarian.

Some of the hundreds of pets who evacuated with their owners on Army helicopters.

Some of the hundreds of pets who evacuated with their owners on Army helicopters.

There are 28 US&R task forces across the country, each comprised of several hundred people and a dozen or so dogs. Unlike smaller search and rescue teams that are focused on finding people lost in the wilderness, urban search and rescue teams are large teams with heavy-duty equipment to focus on rescuing people trapped in urban environments after large-scale disasters. The disasters to which US&R deploys include terrorist attacks (World Trade Center), hurricanes (Katrina), earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. Each task force is capable of deploying within four hours of a disaster, with all the equipment, supplies and personnel necessary to be self-sufficient for 72 hours.

Most of her teammates are firefighters, since they already have training in rigging, extrication and rescue. The team is also comprised of physicians, structural engineers and canine handlers.

Laura McLain McLain, DVM, and “Zeteo,” a search and rescue dog.

Laura McLain McLain, DVM, and “Zeteo,” a search and rescue dog.

The team was called up shortly after midnight on September 13, 2013.  Dragging herself out of bed, Dr. McLain got her uniform and equipment, and drove to the warehouse. She performed pre-deployment exams on the four dogs, and filled out their health certificates. The team spent most of that day convoying to Boulder in a long line of semis, trucks and vans. All roads into Colorado were closed that crossed into the state through a highway patrol roadblock. The team finally got to the Boulder Airport around 6:00pm, where they set up their base of operations, alongside the US&R task force from Nebraska.

As a team veterinarian, Dr. McLain’s primary goal was to keep the search dogs healthy so they can do their job of finding any individuals that were trapped. All of the Utah team dogs remained healthy for the entire deployment, but one of the Nebraska team dogs became ill, with profuse diarrhea and dehydration. The Nebraska task force does not have a veterinarian (less than half the task forces nationally have DVM’s) so Dr. McLain treated him as well and he was back to work the next day.

Dr. McLain was also called on to examine pets of evacuee, where there were long lines of evacuees coming off helicopters. 20 Army Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters flew back and forth between the canyons and the airport, evacuating residents and their pets. Some helicopter loads had more animals than people. Of course there were many dogs and cats, but also a fair number of exotic pets: parrots, turtles, small mammals, geese, fish, and even a monkey. Overall, the pets were amazingly healthy and happy. A few dogs had minor abrasions and lacerations from the flooding that were treated.

The deployment lasted a week. Dr. McLain expressed that despite being sore, soaked, and mentally and physically exhausted, it wasan invaluable experience for her and all of the other team members involved.

 

Hurricane Preparations Plan for your Pet

“When disaster strikes, preparation makes all the difference,” states Dr. John Manolukas, DVM, at Hanover Regional Animal Hospital in Wilmington, NC.  If it is not safe for you, it is not safe for them.  Make a plan and assemble an emergency kit for yourself and your pet.

Start getting ready now!

ID your pet

Ÿ  Microchip – A simple injection can place a rice-sized microchip permanently in your pet. Hanover Regional Animal Hospital will register your pet for you, and provide online access to change any information.  This is the best wiStock_000004089992XSmall_jpgay to ensure your pet can be identified.

Ÿ  Collar – Make sure your cat or dog is wearing a collar with identification.  The information should include your cell number, pet’s name and if possible the name of a friend or relative outside your area who will be able to contact you if you have to evacuate.  For cats, we recommend break away collars.

Put together a disaster kit. (see instructions below)

If you evacuate, take your pet. If it is not safe for you then it is not safe for them. Remember, while you may plan to return in a day or so, sometimes it can take days to weeks before you can get back to your house.

Plan for a place to stay ahead of time. 

Friends and relatives. This is the best choice – as long as they live out of the path of the storm, tornado or hurricane, and your pets get along with theirs.   

Hotels.

Ÿ  Contact multiple hotels within a targeted safe zone and find out their pet policy.  Be sure to ask about their policies in evacuation situations.

Ÿ  Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species.

Ÿ  Inquire if the “no pet” policies would be waived in an emergency.

Ÿ  Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.

Ÿ  Online resources for pet-friendly hotels:

     Doginmysuitcase.com

     Pet-friendly-hotels.net

     Pets-allowed-hotels.com

     Petswelcome.com 

Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office.

Ÿ  Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies.

Ÿ  Be ready for everyday emergencies – have your first aid kit ready to go. 

If you stay home, do it safely.

Plan and prepare a safe zone.

Ÿ  Gather the pets in the same safe location as the rest of family.  Identify a location where you all can stay together and make the safe area animal friendly.

Ÿ  Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.

Ÿ  Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.

Ÿ  Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.

As soon as you know trouble is on the way.

Ÿ  Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way.

Ÿ  Keep pets under your direct control; if you have to evacuate, you will not have to spend time trying to find them.

Ÿ  Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.

Ÿ  If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance.

Ÿ  Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe. 

Take care even after the disaster.

Keep taking care even after the disaster.  There are many dangers following a disaster, some of which are on the ground and in locations our pets are more likely to visit than us.  Be sure to scout out any area your pet will be investigating.

Ÿ  Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

Ÿ  Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet may be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.

Ÿ  While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.

Ÿ  Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.

Ÿ  If your community has been flooded, search your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there. Stressed wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet. 

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How to put together a disaster kit

Keep the disaster kit in a duffle bag that can be grabbed quickly if you have to evacuate in a hurry.

Food and Water

Food: (per day amounts)

5 days worth of food for each pet, bowls and a can opener if you are using canned food.

       Dry food – 1 cup per 20-25 lbs of pet is a rough estimate.

Water: (per day amounts)

Dog                                          Cats

30 lbs  ¼ gallon    (4 cups),       Small Cats    1 cup

60 lbs  ½ gallon    (8 cups),       Medium Cat  2 cups

90 lbs  ¾ gallon  (12 cups)         Large Cat     3 cups

Medications and medical records. 

Ÿ  Write down your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues in case you need to board them.

Ÿ  Keep your veterinarian’s name and number with you.  A business card works great.

Ÿ  Make sure to have photos of you and your pets, to help identify them in case of separation and to prove ownership.  Microchips are still the best method of permanent identification.

Ÿ  Place a copy of all medical records in a waterproof container. These should contain any identification information such as a microchip and rabies certificates as well as county licenses.

First-aid kit. Place your pet first aid kit in a waterproof container in the disaster duffel. 

Plan for waste. Litter box, litter and garbage bags for collection of pets’ waste.

Control of pets.

Ÿ  Carriers – for safe transport of pets and to prevent escape.

Ÿ  Pillowcases – you should have a pillowcase for each cat and small dog to aid in capture and control.

Ÿ  Leashes and harnesses – to maintain control of your pets when they are under stress.

Comfort items – blankets bed and toys if convenient, to reduce stress.

 

From Frisky to Risky: Detecting Feline Diabetes

Spotting feline diabetes is not easy. Why? If human beings with diabetes often overlook their own symptoms, imagine how difficult it can be noticing the signs your kitty may be diabetic. When it comes to noticing symptoms of diabetes in cats, recognition is even more difficult as pets lack the ability to effectively communicate how they are feeling. Any delay in diagnosis can allow the disease to advance to the point where it can cause extensive physical damage. Knowing the potential symptoms of feline diabetes is a proactive approach, ensuring your pet gets the help he or she needs before it’s too late.

Excessive Thirst

It is natural for cats to act thirsty in the hot summer months or after rambunctious exercise. However, excessive drinking throughout the day that continues for a number of days may be a sign of feline diabetes. If you notice you are fillingcalicocat_jpg the water dish more often, you should have your pet tested for diabetes. Spotting excessive thirst can not only help with early detection of diabetes, but many other diseases as well.

Excessive Urinating

If your pet is drinking more water, he or she will likely need to use the litter box to urinate more frequently. You may not recognize excessive water intake right away, as it tends to increase gradually. However, you should notice when you are changing the litter box at a greater frequency, or they may be coming in and out of the house as if through a revolving door. These are great indications that a trip to the veterinarian is warranted.

 “Sweet Breath”

Most every pet owner is accustomed to the unappealing odor of warm kitty breath. If you notice that your pet’s breath has sweetened, it may mean that his or her blood sugar levels are off. Although you may appreciate the appealing change in your pet’s breath, it could be a sign that something is amiss.

Shivering

If you notice your cat shivering even though temperatures are relatively warm, it could be a sign of hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar. This could potentially be a medical emergency. Your pet may require an insulin injection to stabilize blood sugar levels. Seek professional help as soon as possible, or your pet may suffer serious, permanent injury.

Lethargy

Cats suffering from feline diabetes may appear very tired and weak most days. If your normally active pet suddenly develops lethargy symptoms over the course of several days, take him or her to your holistic veterinarian to have their blood sugar tested.

Loss of Weight

Too much weight loss can lead to feline diabetes. If your pet is rapidly losing weight, he or she could have diabetes or a more serious illness. Take your cat to the veterinarian without delay.

What is Feline Diabetes?

According to a study performed by Purina, Diabetes is a very common disease in cats affecting up to 2% of the feline population in the United States.  This disease occurs when the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, resulting in high blood sugar.  Richard Henderson, DVM of Gavelston Vets in Gavelston, TX warns that if left untreated, many other health problems can occur which can result in blindness, kidney damage, muscle weakness, and urinary tract infections.  Diabetic cats often require daily insulin shots at home, and frequent trips to the veterinarian for blood sugar tests and monitoring.

The increasing number of diabetic cats in today’s society is a result of sedentary indoor life styles and free-choice feeding, ending in an epidemic of obese felines.  There is also research that, for many cats, the carbohydrates in dry cat food cannot be used for energy, and is easily converted into stored fat.  For this reason, feeding canned cat foods that are high in protein anPicture2d low in carbohydrates can be fed to aid in weight loss and prevention of diabetes.

Your veterinarians will take a medical history from the cat owner and perform blood tests and urinalysis to determine if your cat has developed diabetes.  Dr. Henderson notes that diabetic cats can be successfully managed but requires a dedicated owner.  In cases where a cat is overweight but not yet a diabetic, a successful weight loss program will prevent the disease from developing and increase your cat’s longevity and quality of life.  Many feline diseases can be prevented through weight loss and weight management.  Proper diet is key not only caring for the diabetic patient, but also to prevent this debilitating condition from developing.