Diabetes in pets

Not many people are aware of the risk of diabetes in their cats and dogs. What is diabetes? Well, just like people, pets can suffer from a deficiency in the secretion of insulin, which is produced in islet cells of the pancreas and secreted into the blood to control blood concentrations of the body’s main fuel which is glucose.

Signs of diabetes include, but are not limited to:

Excessive urination

Excessive water consumption

Loss of weight

Increase of appetite


Recurrent infections

Diagnosis: A good physical examination is the start, followed by lab tests which will can show the presence of elevated blood sugars and glucosuria.

What are the chances my pet has diabetes? Diabetes occurs in one out of every 400-500 dogs and cats. It generally appears to be a disease of older pets. Cats that are over 6 years old tend to be more likely and dogs that are over 8 years old seem to be more at risk. However, cats seem to be at a higher risk than dogs.

Is there a cure? There are two types of diabetes. One is secondary, the other primary. Secondary diabetes is generally brought on by another primary condition such as a pancreas tumor or inflammation, steroid side effects or pancreatitis. Sometimes when the primary condition is cured, the diabetes will resolve itself. If the diabetes is primary, and not due to obesity, it will most likely not go away, though there have been cases where it has mysteriously gone away. Through a strict insulin regimen however, diabetes is very controllable with little side effects.

Will it shorten my pet’s life? Though there is not sufficient evidence to say either way, past experience shows us that once diabetes develops, the life expectancy is for another 3-5 years even if not aggressively treated. This could just be a case of the most common cases being diagnosed in older animals anyway, so it may not have really shortened their lives. With the new drug developments and better means of pet care, if the pet does not have any other health problems, there is a good chance that the diabetes will not effect the life expectancy at all. Keep in mind, getting the proper amount of insulin to regulate your pet’s glucose may take awhile don’t be discouraged if it takes several visits to the vets to establish this; it’s well worth it.

During your pets annual exams, or if your pet is exhibiting any of the signs of diabetes, it’s always a good idea to have normal blood work performed on your pet.

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