“Life With Diabetes Can Be Sweet” Part I – What Is Diabetes

“Life With Diabetes Can Be Sweet” Part I – What Is Diabetes

dog and cat drinking

If you have just discovered your furry family member now has diabetes, you are not alone.  1 in 500 dogs and cats develop diabetes.  It occurs most often in middle aged to elderly pets.  With insulin therapy, diet and exercise you can successfully manage your pet’s diabetes. 

What is diabetes?

During digestion, food is broken down into components that are used by the body.  Carbohydrates (starches) are converted into sugars.  Glucose is the most important sugar.  After absorption into the bloodstream, glucose provides the body’s cells with energy. 

Glucose can be used by cells through the actions of a hormone called insulin.  If there is a shortage of insulin, glucose stays in the bloodstream and a condition known as diabetes mellitus develops. 

Diabetes mellitus is basically a shortage of insulin.  In some cases, this is a relative shortage of insulin.  This shortage is brought about by overproduction of other hormones, which counteract the action of insulin. 

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that keeps your pet’s blood glucose normal and is produced by special cells in the pancreas.  In diabetic animals, these cells produce too little or no insulin.  Diabetes is most common amongst intact female dogs and castrated male cats, but also can be seen in young animals of either species or sex.  

How do other hormones affect insulin?

Other hormones such as progesterone can have a negative influence on the action of insulin.  Progesterone is a hormone that is produced by the ovaries during a female dog’s heat cycle.  Because of this negative effect that progesterone has on insulin, it is recommended that unsprayed female dogs with diabetes be spayed as soon as possible to eliminate the progesterone source.  Products that contain progesterone should be avoided if possible because they counteract the action of insulin.

Symptoms of diabetes:

Excessive glucose in your pet’s blood can exceed the “glucose threshold” of the kidneys.  When this happens, glucose is excreted in the urine.  This results in extra fluid loss from the body causing the animal to drink and urinate more.  Glucose (the important fuel or energy source) is being lost.  Therefore, a diabetic dog may eat more than normal but lose weight.  The most important signs of diabetes mellitus in your pet are:

  1. Increased urination
  2. Increased water consumption
  3. Increased appetite with weight loss

Diagnosis of diabetes

In order to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes, it is recommended to have your pet examined by your veterinarian.  The veterinarian may perform a urine sample as well as blood testing.  The urine will display an excess of glucose.  The blood sample will also show high levels of glucose in the blood stream as well as check other vital organ functions such as the pancreas, kidneys, liver and protein levels. 

To learn more about diabetes in pet’s check out Part II – How To Treat Diabetes.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, please call us at (519) 250-0099.


The resource for the information in this blog was provided by Caninsulin at www.pet-diabetes.com.

Comments are closed.