Diabetes Mellitus

September 5, 2013


Diabetes is a disease that can affect our entire family, including our pets. Diabetes Mellitus is a disease of excess blood sugar. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and allows glucose in the blood to enter the cells, which allows proper body function. When a patient is diabetic, their pancreas is not producing enough insulin and causes the excess sugar in the blood.  Diabetes can be managed at home by giving your pet insulin every day.


There are two different types of diabetes; type one or insulin dependent diabetes is most likely due to a lack of insulin production in the pancreas and accounts for 99% of dogs and 50-70% of cats. Type two or noninsulin dependent diabetes is often due to obesity and dietary causes. This accounts for up to 30% of cats. 


                Signs of diabetes:

  •                 Increased drinking and urination

  •                 Poor body condition – low muscle mass

  •                 Cataracts in dogs

  •                 Poor grooming in cats

  •                 Rear limb weakness in cats


If you are concerned that your pet may be diabetic or has shown any of these signs, Dr. Culbertson should see your pet right away. To diagnose diabetes we would want to start with a complete history of your pet and then complete a thorough physical exam. Next we would want to draw a blood sample and also collect urine form your pet to check for any excessive amounts of glucose.


Just like in humans, diabetes in animals needs to be managed to ensure your pet a longer and healthier life. Treating diabetes does consist of hospitalizing your pet for a couple of days so that a glucose curve can be accomplished. During a glucose curve insulin will be given once or twice a day and the blood glucose will be checked every two hours with a glucometer. We will do this until we get the blood glucose level into an appropriate range. It is important to remember that your pet won’t be completely regulated upon leaving the clinic. Four weeks after the glucose curve we will want to run a Fructosamine on your pet so we can see if the glycemic control has been achieved. A Fructosamine is much like an A1C in humans, this will tell us what the blood glucose has been over the previous two weeks. From here we can make adjustments in the insulin doses to help better regulate your pet.


Managing your pet’s diabetes consists a few different things, one being offering a good diet. Animals with diabetes will need a food low in fat, which is high in fiber and has good complex carbohydrates. A food like this will help even out the sugar that your pet gets in a day. It is also pertinent to check the Fructosamine levels every six months to be sure that there haven’t been any changes in the glycemic control. Next, diabetes