What is Pet Diabetes and What Can I Do for My Pet?

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Sometimes I wish my dog could talk to me…sometimes I am glad he can’t. When I realize he is ill, I always wonder how long he was sick before I noticed, and I wish there was a way he could tell me what’s going on. There is so much to consider in our pet’s health; we must be proactive in order to maintain their wellness and extend their lifespan. Pet owners should be aware of the risk of pet diabetes which has tripled in dogs and increased 18.1% in the last decade.² Globally, diabetes in cats and dogs ranges from one in 500 to one in 100.¹ Unfortunately, these numbers are expected to continue to rise.²

pet diabetes

Most importantly, pet owners must remember that diabetes is not a fatal diagnosis for your family’s furry member. It is completely manageable and your ability to recognize symptoms and maintain health and diet is key to keeping a diabetic pet well. Detecting diabetes early will help reduce the risk of diabetic complications, and increase your pet’s longevity. Some symptoms to look for are excessive thirst and urination. Your pet may even start having accidents in the house because of the constant need to urinate. You may also notice that they are losing weight but their appetite is ravenous. Cats may also become more lethargic and spend more time sleeping.³ If you notice any of these symptoms in your pets, seek medical advice from your vet immediately.

If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, there are a variety of options depending on your pet’s needs. Your vet may prescribe a change in diet, more exercise, glucose monitoring, or an insulin injection routine. It will depend on your pet’s unique situation and health. When diabetes is managed properly, the longevity of dogs and cats with diabetes is typically the same as dogs and cats of the same age and gender without diabetes. They can still lead relatively normal, happy, healthy lives.³

“What do I need to do in order to keep my pet healthy and happy after a diabetes diagnosis?”

Pet owners need to work out a plan with the vet first to make sure their pet is healthy. They should know that with a little love and effort their pet will be okay. When your pet is diagnosed, the vet will develop a plan to fit their needs. The plan your vet develops could include a prescribed diet, exercise, glucose monitoring and an insulin injection routine, depending on each pet’s needs.

“My biggest fear is that I will hurt my pet when I give an insulin injection. Is there anyway to make it easier on my pet?”

Your vet can teach you a few tips and tricks to make it easy!

“What should I feed my pet?”

A vet recommended special diet would help to keep them feeling well.

“How can I be sure that I’m doing all I can to keep my pet healthy?”

It’s really important to stay consistent when it comes to activity. Try taking your dog to the park every day to stay active and make sure to play with cats every day so they aren’t just laying around.

Keep your pets healthy and happy by monitoring them for potential symptoms of diabetes and providing them proper medical care if you are concerned they might be diabetic. Our pets are part of our family, and since they can’t talk to us, we have to pay close attention to what they are trying to tell us with their actions. Your pet might very well be diabetic, but unless you know the symptoms, you could be letting them suffer by going untreated. Be sure to know the facts so they can keep living a long, happy life.

pet diabetes


¹Panciera DL, Thomas CB, Eicker SW, Atkins CE. Epizootiologic patterns of diabetes mellitus in cats: 333 cases (1980–1986). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1990;197(11):1504–1508.

²Banfield Pet Hospital. (2016). State of Pet Health® 2016 Report. Portland, OR. http://www.banfield.com/Banfield/media/PDF/Downloads/soph/Banfield-State-of-Pet-Health-Report-2016.pdf.

³AVMA. (2016). Diabetes in Pets. American Veterinary Medical Association. https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Diabetes-in-Pets.aspx.

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