Diabetes and your Pet

Diabetes and your Pet

Diabetes. We all know at least one person who is affected by this disease. Did you know your own pet can develop diabetes? The Veterinary community is seeing an increase in the diagnoses of cats and dogs with this serious illness, so we would like to give a quick and easy (hopefully) guide on what diabetes is, how to recognize signs in your pet, and how it is treated.

This is a diagram of how a healthy body works when it uses what your pet eats, and turns it into energy:


In a pet with diabetes mellitus (Type 1), the pancreas does not release insulin and breaks the chain of events that happens to give the cells the energy they need. Cells NEED insulin in order to utilize the glucose. Without insulin, the glucose stays in the blood and is not used.

Our felines, as usual, are special because they can get either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes the  pancreas still produces some insulin, but the body will still be deficient due to insulin resistance. If caught early, a cat that has type 2 diabetes when treated, may go into remission. Most often By the time a cat is diagnosed with diabetes, the type 2 usually has progressed into type 1.

pets; medicine hat; diabetes

Risk Factors… How does your pet all of the sudden develop diabetes?

1.) Being Obese

  • Obesity causes an increase in the amount of blood glucose, causing the pancreas to go into overdrive with insulin and essentially “Burning out”.
  • Obesity can also create a chronic inflammatory state in the body  which leads to a reduction in insulin sensitivity
  • Too many fat cells can stop producing a certain hormone which is key for insulin receptor function

2.) Having other illnesses or diseases

  • Cushing’s Disease (in dogs)
  • Hyperthyroidism (in cats)
  • Chronic Pancreatitis

3.) Age

  • Most times, both dogs and cats will develop diabetes in middle or older age

4.) Breed and Genetics

  • Some specific breeds in both species develop diabetes more often than others

5.) Diet

  • High fat diets ( like lots of table food!) can put stress on the pancreas, resulting in chronic pancreatitis


Signs that your Pet may have Diabetes

  • Excessively drinking and urinating – the body is trying to rid itself of the excess glucose through urination, and then your pet feels thirsty due to hydration loss!
  • Constant hunger with weight loss – this is due to the cells not utilizing the glucose the body makes from your pet eating, so then the brain thinks it is being starved and keeps signaling that it is hungry!
  • Thinning and dry/dull haircoat
  • Weak and/or lethargic
  • Cloudy eyes (dogs)

How is Diabetes Diagnosed?

 Your recognition of symptoms (like the ones above) are key to your Veterinarian. Blood work to look for an increase in glucose (hyperglycemia) in the blood and a urinalysis to check for glucose in the urine (glycosuria) will determine if your pet truly has diabetes.


How is Diabetes Managed?

Once your pet is diagnosed with Diabetes, the goal is to bring the blood glucose to a manageable level so that symptoms like increased thirst, hunger, and frequent urination start to become normal again.

 This will be through:

  •  Giving insulin injections under the skin to your pet (# of times per day as determined by your Veterinarian)
  •  Diet changes (# of feedings per day, and the diet itself may need to change)
  •  Regulated Exercise
  • Treating an underlying condition that may have caused Diabetes

How much insulin to give your pet will be determined by your Veterinarian (through blood glucose tests) and can change (up or down) as your pet ages. Your Veterinary team will determine the best management at home for you and your pet to successfully make them feel better inside and out. The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the better and more successful the management will be. A pet living with diabetes can live a full and long life when you and your Veterinary Team work together and have good communication.

medicine hat; diabetes; pets

The three sets of pictures above is of our Team Member, Deb, preparing and giving her dog Dino insulin.

Having your pet diagnosed with diabetes can be a scary thing to hear as a pet owner. It is a life-altering condition for both you and your pet as it requires a lot of extra love and care.  Your Veterinary Team at Cypress View knows this and will work with you and your pet to help you feel comfortable in managing the illness in your pet. And as always, if you have any questions about this article or are suspicious of symptoms your are seeing in your pet, never hesitate to give our team a call!

Extra Information and Sources on Diabetes in the Links Below







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