November is Pet Diabetes Month

November, 2016

Did you know that 1 in every 200 cats may be affected by diabetes mellitus (DM)?

November is National Diabetes Month, and while this month was originally designed to increase awareness of this common endocrine disease in humans, we need to be aware of the growing prevalence of DM in dogs and cats also. Untreated, diabetes mellitus can be fatal in dogs and cats.

In veterinary medicine, there are two types of diabetes mellitus: Type I DM and Type II DM.

Type I DM is when the body doesn’t make enough insulin (which is a hormone that is normally produced from the pancreas), and requires life-long insulin therapy (delivered via a syringe twice a day). This is most commonly seen in dogs – in other words, once a dog becomes a diabetic, he or she is diabetic for life.

 Type II DM is when the body has some insulin being produced from the pancreas, but it is an inadequate amount or something is interfering with its ability to be used by the body. This is most commonly seen in cats and can be transient. In other words, if your cat has recently been diagnosed with Type II DM, he or she may only need insulin injections (via a syringe twice a day) for a few months to years, not necessarily for life.

Clinical signs of diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats include:

•Excessive thirst

•Excessive urination

•Inappropriate urination

•Weight loss (most commonly over the back), despite an overweight body condition

•Increased hunger

•Increased “whiteness” of the lens of the eye due to cataracts

•Blindness

•Weakness

•Lethargy

•Poor skin condition (like excessive dandruff or an oily hair coat)

If you notice any of these signs (e.g., excessive thirst, excessive urination), please bring your pet into your veterinarian as soon as possible. With diabetes, the sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated. Also, there’s less of a likelihood of an expensive emergency visit for treatment of diabetic complications.

With supportive care, the prognosis for DM is fair to good, although it does require frequent trips to the veterinarian to regulate the blood sugar and dedicated pet owners (who can give twice-a-day injections of insulin).