Similar to humans, dogs and cats can get diabetes and there are also two different types. The form in which a pet has absolutely no insulin is called Type I Diabetes (the inability to produce insulin). The other form, Type II Diabetes, occurs when a pet's body makes insulin, but either not enough, or there is a condition present that interferes with the function of the insulin (an insensitivity or resistance to insulin). While virtually 100% of dogs with diabetes mellitus have Type I Diabetes, this form of diabetes is actually considered rare in cats. Approximately 80% (or more) of cats have Type II Diabetes. Due to the differences in these types of diabetes, dogs and cats with diabetes are treated and managed differently.
Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for "sugar diabetes," is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, or sugar, in a dog's blood. Diabetes in dogs is most often the result of a dog's body making too little insulin (Type I Diabetes). Much less commonly, dogs may develop Type II Diabetes in which their bodies don't process insulin properly.
Insulin affects how your dog's body uses food. When your dog eats, food is broken down into very small components its body can use. One component, carbohydrate, is converted into several types of simple sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, where it travels to cells throughout the body. Inside cells, insulin helps turn glucose into fuel. If there's too little insulin available, glucose can't enter cells and can build up to a high concentration in the bloodstream. As a result, a diabetic dog may seem hungry constantly, but will lose weight because its cells can't absorb glucose.
Diabetes Risk Factors for Dogs
If you think your dog may be at risk, make an appointment today to get your dog checked for diabetes.
We’re here to help! Visit VCApetdiabetes.com to watch a video on how to give an insulin injection, monitor blood glucose with our eDiary, find expert advice and get support from our interactive community to help manage your dog’s diabetes.
Diabetes is one of many conditions that can affect your dog and cause visible changes in behavior and other signs. That's why it is important that your dog be thoroughly examined by a veterinarian at least once a year or more frequently, if your veterinarian advises.
Dog Diabetes Symptoms
Knowing the signs of diabetes is the first step in protecting your dog's health. If any of these statements describes your pet, speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of diabetes:
When evaluating your dog for diabetes, your veterinarian may ask about these signs and will check your dog's general health to rule out the possibility of other conditions or infections. In addition, your veterinarian will test your dog's urine for the presence of glucose and ketones and, if indicated, will then measure your dog's blood glucose concentration. A diagnosis of diabetes only becomes definite when glucose is found in the urine and at a persistently high concentration in the blood.
After the Diagnosis
It can initially be overwhelming when your dog is diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that you can manage successfully and your VCA veterinarian is here to help. Once the diagnosis has been made, ask your veterinarian to schedule a specific "diabetes appointment" during which you can discuss all of your questions or concerns. During this appointment, make sure to address the following topics with your VCA veterinarian:
For more information on the types of dog diabetes, please read:
To learn more about diabetes in dogs and cats, check our Pet Health Library.
Could your pet have Diabetes?
As a pet owner, you will likely be the first to spot the symptoms of diabetes. The most common symptoms of dog and cat diabetes are:
Increased Hunger or Appetite (called polyphagia)
Excessive Thirst (called polydipsia)
Increased Urination (called polyuria)
Weakness or Fatigue
Initially the signs of diabetes are not terribly concerning to most pet owners as their pet is often just eating or drinking more than usual. However, it is important to notify your veterinarian if you detect any of these changes. As with most medical conditions, early detection and treatment of diabetes is recommended for the best possible outcome for your pet. Dogs and cats with diabetes can live happily and healthfully with the proper treatment and monitoring by both you and your VCA veterinarian.
If you recognize any of the symptoms of diabetes in your dog or cat, contact your veterinarian right away to schedule an exam to test for diabetes and other potential causes.