Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

By Dr. Anne Ray,  Associate Veterinarian

Diabetes Mellitus or “sugar diabetes” is a condition where the body cannot properly produce or respond to the hormone insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is responsible for controlling glucose levels in the blood. Glucose is an essential fuel for normal cell function within the body.

There are two types of Diabetes Mellitus, Type I and Type II.

Type I diabetes occurs when the pancreas is not producing the insulin the body needs. This happens when the pancreas is damaged or not functioning properly. This is the most common type of diabetes in the dog.

Type II diabetes occurs when the pancreas is producing insulin but the cells in the body are not properly responding to it. This is the most common type of diabetes in the cat.

Both of these types result in increased glucose levels in the blood.

Symptoms of diabetes are: increased thirst, increased urine output, weight loss, and cataracts in dogs. In more advanced stages, you see loss of appetite and energy, vomiting.

Risk factors for developing diabetes:

  • Chronic or repeated pancreatitis where the pancreas is damaged
  • Obesity that can lead to insulin resistance
  • Chronic steroid use
  • Cushing’s Disease where the body over produces steroid
  • An autoimmune disorder that affects the pancreas
  • Diets high in carbohydrates – generally dry foods are higher in carbs than canned foods

Diagnosis is based on showing increased glucose levels in both blood and urine.

Treatment involves insulin injections, diet modifications and exercise. Giving insulin injections is not as hard as it sounds. We will teach you how to administer them as well as how to monitor your pet’s glucose levels at home. There are glucose monitoring kits available for your pets and are quite easy to use.

After your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, an appointment is made so that your veterinarian and technician can insure you are shown the proper way to give insulin and check the glucose level.

If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, don’t panic. With our support, you will be able to provide the proper care for your pet to ensure you have many more happy years together.

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