In November we recognize Pet Diabetes Month. During this month we shine a spotlight on diabetes in
both dogs and cats. Often pet owners do not realize that dogs and cats are at risk for developing this
disease and its various complications. Diabetes affects between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs and cats. Its
incidence has been increasing over the past 30 years.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is the full medical term to describe the disease. Mellitus means “sweet” and
refers to the increased blood and urine sugar (glucose) levels that occur with this disease. DM occurs
when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Insulin the hormone that allows the cells of the
body to utilize blood glucose. With less insulin the cells are not able to take up and use the blood
glucose. This leads to increased glucose in the blood stream, which produces many adverse side effects
in the body.
Common signs of DM include:
- Increase thirst and urination
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss
Less common symptoms include:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Cataracts (in dogs)
DM is diagnosed when the blood glucose concentration is significantly elevated. The presence of
glucose in the urine is need to confirm the diagnosis. Additional test are often indicated to look for
other concurrent diseases (such as urinary tract infections or liver disease) that may accompany DM.
Such tests include a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, urine culture, etc.
DM cannot be cured, but can be managed successfully with:
- Insulin therapy
Dogs and cats with diabetes can live long, healthy lives with appropriate treatment and monitoring. DM
can be challenging to regulate and require patience and persistence, but with dedication on the part of
the owner working closely with the veterinary team diabetic pets can live active normal lives for many