While many of us have a friend or family member with Diabetes Mellitus, it is less commonly known that dogs and cats can develop this disease. Diabetes is associated with the poor production or uptake of the hormone insulin which controls blood glucose or sugar levels. The clinical signs of diabetes are initially increased thirst and urination. Pets then start to lose weight and become lethargic. Cataracts may form in the eyes causing blindness as has happened to Snowy the 9 yr old Maltese Terrier. Without medical intervention pets will deteriorate and may lapse into a diabetic coma. At the vet clinic we can perform simple blood and urine tests to check if a pet has high sugar levels or some other illness.
Dealing with diabetes in dogs and catsDiabetes in dogs is not a curable disease, but is generally well managed with twice daily insulin injections, a strict medical diet and regular blood glucose monitoring. While most diabetic dogs are diagnosed when middle aged to older, they can also be occasionally diagnosed as juveniles. Older overweight cats are also at risk of developing diabetes. Treatment is again twice daily insulin injections however some cats can actually go into remission with proper dietary management and not need ongoing injections. Hopefully a cure for diabetes for both people and pets will be found in the near future.