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Pets and diabetes

Pets with diabetes

As a diabetic myself I can relate to pets diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitis. Diabetes is a condition that occurs when a body is unable to use glucose for energy. The utilization of glucose is primarily controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is manufactured in the pancreas.   

In a pet with diabetes, its body either does not produce enough insulin (generally seen in dogs) or the body cannot respond effectively to the insulin it produces (generally seen in cats).

The result of either case is added sugar in the pet’s bloodstream, which can cause problems in the kidneys, eyes, skin and other body systems. If left untreated, or if managed poorly, diabetes can affect all organ systems, with sometimes fatal results.


The most common symptoms are:

  • Increased thirst (much more than usual)
  • Urinating frequently or losing control of bladder  
  • Having a ravenous appetite
  • Losing weight rapidly or suddenly

Less obvious symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Recurrent infections
  • Weakness
  • Poor coat quality
  • Cataracts
  • Seizures

Risk factors of diabetes include the following:

  • Age: 
    • Dogs are mostly diagnosed between 7-10 years of age
    • Cats are usually diagnosed when they are older than 6 years
  • Sex: Female dogs are twice as likely to develop diabetes
  • Breeds:
    • Dogs:  SamoyedMiniature PoodleToy PoodlePugTibetan TerrierCairn TerrierYorkshire TerrierFox TerrierBichon FriséDachshund and Siberian Husky
    • Cats: Russian Blue, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Abyssian breeds
  • Chronic or repeated pancreatitis. Chronic or repeated pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) can eventually cause extensive damage to that organ, resulting in diabetes.
  • Obesity. Obesity contributes to insulin resistance and is a risk factor for pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.
  • Steroid medications. These can cause diabetes when used long-term.
  • Cushing’s disease. With Cushing’s disease, the body overproduces steroids internally, so this condition also can cause diabetes.
  • Other health conditions. Some autoimmune disorders and viral diseases are also thought to possibly trigger diabetes.


A thorough clinical examination will be conducted to diagnose diabetes. They will find consistent glucose in the urine and elevated blood glucose levels. 

Your veterinarian will do additional tests to check for any concurrent infections, especially in the urinary tract.


  • Insulin will be prescribed and based on your pet’s glucose curves the vet will advise how often you must inject your pet per day.
  • Feed Diabetic friendly food. Do not leave food out for your pet to eat but rather provide 2 meals daily.
  • At-home care may also include regularly monitoring your pet’s blood glucose level, checking its urine for glucose and ketones, and keeping track of its weight.
  • Be sure to use the correct size and type of syringe so that insulin dosages are administered accurately; an insulin overdose can potentially result in seizures, coma or death.
  • Treatment will be LIFELONG!! But with adequate monitoring and care your pet may live a happy normal life.




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