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Diabetes in Pets -Causes and Treatments

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects humans and animals alike. There is not much difference in how Diabetes affects humans vs. animals or, indeed, how it is treated. While Diabetes is common in dogs and cats (around 1 in 300 pets are diagnosed with the disease), it is highly treatable, and your pet can live a long and comfortable life with you.

What happens in the body to cause Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when there is a chemical dysfunction in the metabolic process. There are three important jobs the metabolic system is responsible for:

1. Convert food into energy.

2. Create building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates.

3. Eliminate waste.

Two things need to work together for the metabolism to function correctly: glucose and insulin. When we eat, our metabolism creates glucose. Glucose is important for creating energy in the body. It basically feeds the cells. Glucose is released into the bloodstream from the intestine. At this point, insulin, created by the body and released by the pancreas, is the manager, telling the cells which nutrients to grab out of the bloodstream to feed the body. Diabetes occurs when the body’s insulin fails to regulate the amount of glucose, or if the body simply doesn’t create enough insulin to get the job done.

Symptoms to look for:

The symptoms in dogs and cats are similar, but there are a few variations. Here are the most common symptoms to look for. If your pet exhibits these symptoms, it’s important to get in to see your veterinarian for a check-up.



-increased thirst

-increased appetite

-weight loss

-increased urination


-increased thirst


-weight loss


-increased urination


There are three ways to treat Diabetes in your pet:

1. Insulin injections.

2. Diet.

3. Exercise.

Talk with your veterinarian about the best protocol for your pet. Each animal will have their own specific needs in managing Diabetes regarding what insulin dosage is needed, and what the best food plan is. It is important to keep in communication with your veterinarian as you begin treatment for your pet.

Other facts about Diabetes in dogs and cats:


-Any breed can be affected by Diabetes but it’s more prominent in smaller breeds such as Miniature Poodles, Cairn Terriers, Beagles, Dachshunds, Schnauzers.

-It is more common in female dogs.

-Once diagnosed, Diabetes is usually lifelong without remission in dogs.

-A form of Diabetes called Diabetes Mellitus, ‘sugar diabetes’, is most common in dogs.


-Burmese, Russian Blue, Norwegian Forest Cat, Abyssinian, and Tonkinese appear to be predisposed.

-Cats can sometimes go into remission.

-More common in male cats.

-More common in overweight cats.

What happens if Diabetes goes untreated in my pet?

The hard truth is that if Diabetes goes left untreated, the outcome is fatal. In very rare cases, the disease can be treated with weight loss, but the fact is that Diabetes needs to be treated by a veterinarian. If you suspect your pet may have Diabetes, it is important to get in to see your vet as soon as possible.


Diabetes: A metabolic disease that can be fatal if left untreated.

Metabolism: The system in the body that creates energy out of food and eliminates waste.

Insulin: Hormone that breaks down sugars, fats, and proteins. Made in the pancreas. Insulin delivers glucose to cells.

Glucose: Sugar (or blood sugar since it is delivered through the blood) that provides essential energy to cells.


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