All Pets Veterinary Clinic
Diabetes is a common disorder that can affect animals as well as humans. There are
actually different types of diabetes. The type that most commonly causes problems in
dogs and cats is diabetes mellitus. In this type of diabetes, the body does not produce
enough insulin or does not respond to the insulin that is present. As a result, the
amount of glucose, or sugar, that is in the blood will stay high, because without
insulin, the body cannot move glucose into the cells where it is needed for energy. In
the remainder of this article, we will discuss the signs, diagnosis, and treatment of
Signs. The most common signs of diabetes are an increased thirst that results
in an increase in urination, weight loss, and an increase or decrease in appetite. One
may also see cataract formation that can lead to blindness, depression, and possible
secondary urinary tract infections. Most commonly affected are overweight, middle aged,
female animals. However, any age or sex can be affected.
Diagnosis. The diagnosis of diabetes can often be made by matching the clinical
signs with a high blood glucose and possibly an increased urine glucose. Bloodwork,
including a complete blood count and a chemistry panel, and a urinalysis should be done.
Treatment. Once an animal is diagnosed as a diabetic, it is often necessary to
hospitalize him/her to start treatment. Depending on the condition of the animal, IV
fluids may be necessary for stabilization of the animal. The animal may be put on
antibiotics if he/she has a urinary tract infection.
Since all animals with diabetes mellitus are considered "juvenile diabetics" or insulin
dependent diabetics, supplemental insulin will be at the center of treatment. Most often,
injectable insulin is the treatment of choice for diabetic animals. While in the hospital,
the animal will be started on a low dose of insulin and carefully monitored for any
complications or side effects.
The most important part of controlling diabetes is establishing a strict regimen or
plan for the animal. This plan includes, giving the animal an injection of insulin,
once or twice a day, at specific times, always feeding a special diet, monitoring urine
glucose, water consumption, attitude, and appetite, and having periodic checks of blood
glucose levels. With a little time an patience, most diabetic animals can be controlled
very well at home.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to take the place of your regular veterinarian. Please do not hesitate
to contact your regular veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet.
Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
13 December 2002