Diabetes in Your Pet: What To Do

Arkvet Pet Diabetes


What is diabetes:

Diabetes is a disease caused by insufficient levels of insulin within the body. Insulin is a hormone which is secreted by the pancreas. If insulin is not produced then the blood sugar levels will rise, resulting in hyperglycaemia. Diabetes mellitus can be described as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellites whereas Type 2 diabetes is referred to as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Type 1 is more common in both people and canines. As stated earlier it is caused when there is an insufficient level of insulin within the body, but it can also be caused by hypoplasia of the islet cells in the pancreas. Lack of insulin within the body results in non-insulin productions, which in turn results in the patient requiring regular insulin injections.


Signs and Symptoms in dogs:

  • Polyphagia (excessive hunger and abnormal intake of food) – the body thinks its hungry.
  • Increased urination caused by the glucose drawing water with it into the urine.
  • Weight loss – If there is no insulin then the sugars in the diet cannot by used by the bod, causing them to be lost in urine. As a result, to this they are not getting enough calories resulting in the body breaking down the fat reserves.
  • Excessive thirst caused by the body trying to keep up with the excess fluid loss.

Advanced signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary Tract infection
  • Dehydration
  • Ketotic breath (unusually sweet-smelling)
  • Chronic skin infections
  • Cataract formation
  • Possible blindness
  • May be obese

Signs and symptoms in cats:

-Weight loss – Cats with diabetes cannot process glucose properly resulting in their cells not receiving the nutrition they need. The body responds to this by breaking down fat and muscle tissue.

-Vomiting – when the body breaks down the fat energy the by products cannot be eliminated fast enough, resulting in vomiting. If there is a build-up of waste products it will cause the cat to feel nauseated.

-Change in appetite – Some patients lose their appetites when they have diabetes, however some become extremely hungry as a result of a nervous system reaction.

-Change in gait – In some cases cats with diabetes can develop a disorder called “diabetic neuropathy” which causes the cat to walk with its hocks touching the ground (flat footed).

-Overall ill health – The cat’s immune system will be weakened resulting in them having trouble fighting off minor illnesses or infections. Their eyes and coat may also become dull.


It is important to visit your vet if you notice and of these signs or symptoms listed above. Catching these signs early is important to reduce any permanent damage that diabetes can do to your pet. Early diagnosing is critical.