Could my Pet have Diabetes?

Did you know pets can develop diabetes just like people? We have some important information for you to know.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitus, or “sugar diabetes”, results from a shortage of insulin in the body. Pets that are diagnosed and treated properly can live just as long as pets without the disease. However, diabetes can lead to other health problems in pets. In dogs, cataracts can form in the eyes which can lead to blindness. In cats, it can cause weakness in their hind legs due to damaged nerves and muscle wasting. The best way to keep your diabetic pet healthy and prevent these issues is regular checkups, keeping up with daily insulin treatments and monitoring, regular exercise, and feeding them a proper diet.

How do I know if my pet has diabetes?

The most common symptoms of diabetes are lethargy, excessive thirst (polydipsia), and frequent urination (polyuria). Pets may also display lower activity levels, and a thinning, dry, or dull coat. The best way to diagnose diabetes in dogs and cats is through a simple blood test to evaluate glucose levels and organ function. Persistently high glucose levels found in both the blood and the urine can usually point towards a diagnosis of diabetes.

What are the risk factors?

There are different risk factors of diabetes for both dogs and cats.

Dogs that are most susceptible to diabetes are middle aged or older, un-spayed females, or pets who are obese or overweight.  There are also certain breeds more prone to the disease. These include Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinchers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pomeranians, Terriers, and Toy Poodles.

Cats that are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes middle aged to older in age, neutered males, obese or overweight, or typically have an indoor lifestyle. There are also other insulin-resistant disorders in cats, such as pancreatitis or hyperthyroidism, which can make them be more susceptible to the disease as well.

What can I do to prevent diabetes?

While there is no way to prevent diabetes at this time, there are things you can do to lower the risk of developing diabetes. First, keep your pet at an ideal weight by feeding the right amount of a good quality food and giving them regular exercise. In addition, having a preventive blood panel done at your pets wellness checkups is the best way to catch diabetes early before your pet is showing signs or developing complications.

Dr. Ward and our team at Johnston Animal Hospital can answer your questions about diabetes or any other concerns about your pet. Please do not hesitate to call our office at 919-934-3511 or email us at