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Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

The help and support you need to care for your pet with diabetes

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What is pet diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused by your cat or dog's pancreas not producing enough insulin.

Every time your cat or dog eats a meal, glucose is absorbed from the intestines and enters the bloodstream. Insulin allows the glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter cells where it can be used for energy and growth.

What happens with a lack of insulin?

In diabetic cats and dogs, the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin.

Without insulin, glucose is no longer able to leave the bloodstream to be used as energy by the body's cells. So the glucose in the blood will rise to an abnormally high level. The level will become so high that glucose overflows into the urine and your pet's urine will contain glucose.

The body's cells cannot utilise the glucose they depend upon for energy. In order to compensate for this, other 'abnormal' energy producing processes start up which do not depend on glucose (such as fat break-down). Unfortunately, these processes eventually create toxic by-products that can make your pet very sick.

Can pets diabetes be treated?

Your vet will discuss treatment options with you.

This could include dietary changes as well as considering insulin injections to replace the insulin that your pet's pancreas can no longer produce.

What signs should I look for?

  • Increased thirst 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Deteriorating coat condition 
  • Lethargy or lack of energy

Assess your pet's risk of diabetes

Diabetes can affect any individual, however like people, genetic factors, lifestyle and diet can all affect the risk of the disease developing.

If you can say yes to one or more of these questions your pet might be at higher risk of developing or having the condition.

Information about my pet:

  • My dog is a Beagle, Bichon Frise, Border Collie, Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Corgi, Dachshund, Husky, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Samoyed, Scottish Terrier, Tibetan Terrier, West Highland White Terrier or Yorkshire Terrier 
  • My cat is Burmese 
  • My cat is overweight 
  • My pet has a close relative with diabetes (eg. mother, father, litter mate) 
  • My pet is six years or older 

My pet is showing one of the following signs: 

  • Excessive thirst/drinking a lot of water 
  • Excessive urination or ‘accidents’ in the house 
  • Excessive hunger without gaining weight 
  • Being less active/lethargic 
  • Weight loss