Diabetes in dogs and cats
DIABETES mellitus occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the cells do not respond to insulin.
Insulin is required for the body to efficiently use sugars, fats and proteins.
Diabetes most commonly occurs in middle-aged to older dogs and cats, but occasionally occurs in young animals.
When diabetes occurs in young animals, it is often genetic and may occur in related animals.
Diabetes mellitus occurs more commonly in female dogs and in male cats.
Certain conditions predispose a dog or cat to developing diabetes, such as animals which are overweight or have inflammation of the pancreas.
Some drugs can also interfere with insulin, leading to diabetes, such as cortisone-type drugs and hormones used for heat control.
These are commonly used drugs but only a small percentage of animals receiving these drugs develop diabetes after longterm use.
The body needs insulin to use sugar, fat and protein from the diet for energy.
Without insulin, sugar accumulates in the blood and spills into the urine.
Sugar in the urine causes the pet to pass large amounts of urine and to drink lots of water.
Levels of sugar in the brain controls appetite. Without insulin, the brain becomes sugar-deprived and the animal is constantly hungry, yet they may lose weight due to improper use of nutrients from the diet.
Untreated diabetic pets are more likely to develop infections and commonly get bladder, kidney, or skin infections.
Diabetic dogs, and rarely cats, can develop cataracts in the eyes too.
Fat also accumulates in the liver of animals with diabetes.
Less common signs of diabetes are weakness or abnormal gait due to nerve or muscle damage.
The diagnosis of diabetes is made by finding a large increase in blood sugar and a large amount of sugar in the urine.
Consult your veterinarian if you suspect your pet is diabetic.