Did you know that 1 in every 200 pets may be affected by diabetes mellitus (DM)?
WHAT IS DIABETES MELLITUS?
Diabetes mellitus, (better known as diabetes), is a disease caused by a lack of insulin that affects the level of glucose (sugar) in your dog or cat’s blood. When your pet eats, the food is broken down into several components, including glucose. Glucose is an important source of energy for your pet. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and is required for the cells to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream. If the pancreas is not functioning properly, then insulin is not produced in the amount needed to push sugar into the cells of the body and glucose can build up in the bloodstream. When this happens, the body is unable to utilize the glucose needed for daily functions.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIABETES MELLITUS?
In veterinary medicine, there are two types of diabetes mellitus: Type I and Type II.
Type I DM is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Pets with Type 1 require life-long insulin therapy (delivered via a syringe twice a day). Dogs are most commonly affected and require lifelong treatment.
Type II DM is when the pancreas produces an inadequate amount of insulin. Cats are most commonly affected.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DIABETES MELLITUS?
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
- Poor skin condition (like excessive dandruff or an oily hair coat)
If you notice any of these clinical signs, 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.