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The Low-down on Pet Diabetes

Blog Header Pet Diabetes

Cases of Diabetes are on the rise in humans…but do you know that it’s also on the rise in our pets?

November is Pet Diabetes month so we thought it would be a great idea to look at the signs of Diabetes, whether your pet is at risk and how we treat the condition.

But first…

What actually IS Diabetes?

Pets with Diabetes suffer from the incorrect concentration of glucose in the blood as a result of insufficient Insulin in the body, or an inability to use Insulin correctly.

This is important because, without it, glucose can’t be converted and used as a source of energy. This means that affected pets will be malnourished despite being hungry and eating all the time.

Untreated Diabetes can have significant implications for your pet’s health. It can cause damage to eyes, major organs and the nervous system.

Affected pets may also suffer from Ketoacidosis, where the body starts to break down alternative body tissue for energy when it can’t get any from glucose. Ketones, which build up as a by-product of this, are poisonous and will cause the body to become acidic if left unchecked. This is a dangerous and  life-threatening event and should be treated as a medical emergency.

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What are the signs of Diabetes?

  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Increased urination
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Fatigue and depression
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Thinning or dull eyes

Which pets are at particular risk of suffering from Diabetes?

Just as with us, certain factors make it more likely that pets will suffer from Diabetes.

Older pets are more likely to suffer from a wide range of health issues and diabetes is one of these.

Obesity is also a big factor in cases of Diabetes, as extra weight increases insulin resistance. Related to this, pet inactivity decreases insulin sensitivity and can lead to obesity.

You can perform a Diabetes risk assessment on your pet with the help of this leaflet about Diabetes in pets:

Diagnosing Diabetes:

One of the first steps in diagnosing Diabetes is taking a urine sample from your pet to test. We’ll look for the presence of glucose in the urine. If your pet’s urine shows the presence of glucose, the next step will be taking a blood test. If glucose is found at a high level in the blood as well as the urine, then we can consider it a definite diagnosis of Diabetes.

As mentioned earlier in this blog, untreated Diabetes can cause serious problems for pets so it is important to get the condition diagnosed and proceed with treatment as soon as possible.

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Managing Diabetes:

With early detection and management, pets with diabetes can lead normal and full lives.

Affected pets will normally require lifelong treatment. You may find that some pets enter remission following treatment but should remember that they are not cured.

Treatment will normally involve regular Insulin injections.  This may sound daunting at first but you will soon master it! Your vet team will demonstrate the process and make sure you are comfortable with it.

Nutrition is also a key element in managing the condition. If your pet is overweight they may be placed on a diet to help them lose weight. There are also a number of diets designed specifically for pets with Diabetes. These contain slow-release carbohydrates to stop your pet experiencing ‘sugar rushes’.


If you’re concerned that your pet is showing the signs of Diabetes (or they have any other health issues), then please find your local practice by using our online practice finder

Glossary of key terms:

Diabetes Mellitus – A condition caused by the incorrect concentration of Glucose in the pet’s bloodstream, where they have either too little insulin OR where the body cannot use the Insulin properly.

Glucose – A simple monosaccharide (a unit of carbohydrate).

Insulin – A hormone that helps absorb glucose from the bloodstream and converts it into cells.

Pancreas – An organ in the digestive system which produces a number of important hormones and aids in digestion.

‘Hypo’ – Often used as a shorthand term for hypoglycaemic, which is a sudden onset of low blood sugar.

Posted October 28, 2014 in Pet Care Advice

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