Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) is a common endocrine (hormonal) disease of dogs and cats. The incidence of the disease seems to be on the increase. There are some similarities between cats, dogs and humans when it comes to diabetes, but there are also some important species differences.
Insulin is one of the hormones responsible for regulating the blood glucose (blood sugar) level. Diabetes is caused either by the body not producing enough insulin or by failure of the body to respond properly to insulin. As a result glucose cannot be absorbed by cells and the blood glucose level becomes high (hyperglycaemia). Diabetes is diagnosed using a combination of blood and urine tests.
Diabetes is most common in middle-aged to older pets. Any breed can be affected although certain breeds are at higher risk.
The symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst and urination (polydipsia and polyuria)
- Increased appetite (polyphagia)
- Weight loss
- Cataract formation (particularly dogs)
- Other side effects including high blood pressure and diabetic neuropathy can also occur
Canine and feline diabetes can be managed successfully, usually with insulin injections. A suitable diet and a consistent daily routine is also important. Treatment of a diabetic pet is undoubtedly a big commitment. The period of stabilisation where the correct daily dose of insulin is being determined can take some time. Equally diabetes can also be a very rewarding disease to treat as your pet can enjoy a normal quality of life with this condition for many years. Sometimes, especially in cats, diabetic remission can occur, however most diabetic pets will require life-long treatment. The aims of treatment are to control the symptoms of diabetes and to reduce the development of long-term complications.
Until recently, the syringe has been the only option to use for injecting insulin. Caninsulin, manufacturers of insulin have launched the Vetpen which is a new way to inject, improving administration, consistency and ease of use. The pen is loaded with a cartridge of insulin and an easy to use dial allows you to select the required insulin dose. Watch the video below for more information.
If your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes we will discuss treatment with you in detail including your preferred method of injecting. We also offer diabetes nurse clubs at some branches to help support you and your pet with treating and monitoring this disease.
If your pet has already been diagnosed with diabetes and you are interested in switching to the Vetpen technique please contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets.
There is a lot of information to absorb when your pet is first diagnosed with diabetes.