Diabetes is a chronic endocrine disorder that impacts us humans, as well as our cats and dogs. In fact, it is estimated that 1 out of every 100 dogs age 12 or older, and between 1 in 50 and 1 in 500 cats will develop the disease. While diabetes certainly isn’t what we’d call common in pets, it is prevalent enough that every responsible pet owner should be aware of the symptoms.

What exactly is diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes. In Type 1, insulin production is decreased, leading to hyperglycemia (low blood sugar), whereas with Type 2, the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. 

Insulin is a hormone needed to transport glucose (blood sugar), amino acids, and minerals through the blood to energy-producing cells. When there is a lack of insulin, glucose cannot move into the cells, and the glucose level in the blood rises to abnormally high levels. 

What causes diabetes in pets?

Diabetes in dogs and cats is caused by damage to the pancreas. If your pet has chronic pancreatitis, is obese, or has hormonal abnormalities, this puts him at higher risk. In addition, it could be that your pet has a genetic predisposition to diabetes.

Dogs are more likely to get Type 1 diabetes and rarely suffer from Type 2, while cats are the opposite. In dogs, females are impacted twice as often as males, and in cats, diabetes is seen more often in males.

Certain breeds of dogs also experience above-average rates of diabetes. These include Toy Poodles, Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.

In cats, diabetes is more common in middle- to older-aged animals, especially if they are obese. Siamese and Burmese cats tend to have above-average rates of diabetes. 

What are the symptoms of diabetes in cats and dogs?

In both cats and dogs, the main symptoms are increased appetite, increased thirst, and increased urination. It can also cause weight gain or weight loss.

How do I know if my pet has diabetes?

If you notice symptoms, they need to be examined by a veterinarian. He or she will run blood tests, which is the only way to diagnose the disease. 

Although a trip to the vet makes some dogs nervous, cats are more likely to become highly stressed when riding in a car. Diagnosing diabetes requires a simple blood test to determine the glucose level, but ensuring an accurate reading on a stressed-out cat is a challenge. Healthy cats under stress often have high glucose concentrations in their blood, known as stress hyperglycemia. To avoid this, you can schedule an at-home visit, or at the vet’s office, your vet may need to run a more extensive blood test called a fructosamine test to eliminate a potential false diagnosis.

How do I treat my pet’s diabetes?

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be controlled with insulin injections, a healthy diet, and exercise. With this care, your pet can lead a happy and comfortable life.

All dogs with diabetes are insulin–dependent and require daily insulin injections. Although most cats are also insulin-dependent, some cats are non-insulin-dependent, and their disease can be controlled by diet, weight loss, and oral medications. 

At PetWow, we believe in promoting a healthy lifestyle for our furry friends, that’s why we work hard to create a positive experience for them during their visits. More than 30,000 pet parents trust the health and grooming of their best friends to us, and we take that care seriously. To schedule your appointment, call us today at 513-738-9691 to schedule your appointment at our Highland Heights or Florence Kentucky locations, or for At Home Veterinary Care. For more pet care tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn!