Diabetes in Cats and Dogs


Dogs / Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Diabetes in Cats and Dogs

November is National Diabetes Month in the UK. Diabetes is on the increase in this country largely due to poor lifestyle choices. Sugary foods, obesity and a lack of exercise are all causing more people to develop the condition. Unfortunately, the diabetes epidemic is not confined to people. Millions of cats and dogs are also now suffering from the condition.

Syringe with insulin for a cat

The Symptoms of Diabetes

It is vital that pet owners are aware of the causes and symptoms of diabetes. Animals can lead long and happy lives with diabetes but early diagnosis will improve their outcomes.

Diabetes is a failure of the body’s mechanisms which control the levels of sugar, especially glucose, in the blood. As many as 20 million pets in the UK could now be affected and the condition is becoming ever more common.
The symptoms of diabetes are relatively easy to spot and include an increase in thirst, frequent urination and changes in appetite or tiredness. Unexplained weight loss may also be observed.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

There are many factors which increase an animal’s chances of developing diabetes. Age, weight, genetics and lifestyle are all risk factors. Once diagnosed, the condition can be managed well via a healthy diet, regular exercise and insulin injections. However, there is no cure. The average age when diabetes is diagnosed is 11.6 years for cats and 9.5 years for dogs.

Diabetes in Dogs

Middle aged and senior dogs are more likely to develop diabetes than younger dogs. Unneutered females are also at greater risk as are dogs with certain conditions including Cushings disease and an overactive adrenal gland. Some breeds have a greater propensity to develop diabetes. These include Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pomeranians, Terriers, and Toy Poodles. Obesity and inadequate exercise are also risk factors and these are ones which can easily be avoided or addressed.

Diabetes in Cats

As with dogs, older cats are more susceptible to diabetes as are neutered males. A high carbohydrate diet is also a risk factor as is obesity. Cats with other disorders or diseases such as acromegaly, an overactive thyroid, kidney disease or pancreatitis are more likely to develop diabetes and Burmese cats are highly susceptible.

The use of medications that contain corticosteroids long-term is also a risk factor for diabetes.

Diabetes in the UK

Diabetes in cats and dogs is on the rise in the UK and so it is vital that all pet owners ensure that their animals enjoy a healthy lifestyle. We are not faring as badly as the United States where diabetes in dogs has increased by 80% over the last ten years, but the situation remains worrying.